What is it?
What you see here is the freshly crowned 2017 World Car of the Year in a more affordable of its avatars. This is the Jaguar F-Pace 20d and the prices range from Rs 68.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the Pure trim to Rs 77.8 lakh for the Prestige trim version featured here. The more powerful F-Pace 30d, for reference, costs upwards of Rs 1.18 crore. That’s a huge gulf in prices.
The biggest saving is on account of what’s under this F-Pace’s shapely hood. Where the 30d uses a stonking 300hp, 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine, this 20d comes with a more down-to-earth 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. It's Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium engine and on the F-Pace it makes 180hp and 430Nm. The power figure may seem low in something touted as a sports SUV, but we’ll give the engine a fair hearing.
On the outside, the F-Pace 20d does with lesser chrome garnishing than its pricier siblings but it's none the worse for it. Even in this parliamentarian-friendly shade of white, the handsome Jag SUV stands out. And why won’t it? It looks so different from every other SUV on sale today.
Elsewhere, the 20d Prestige gets less as standard than the 30d models. Surround camera, LED lights and reclining rear seats are just some of the options on the expansive list of paid extras. And you’ll be wise to tick the box for lumbar support for the front seats. The rear seats, however, are comfy and there’s space aplenty in the back. In general, the ambience inside the bright and airy cabin is nice but some plastics and materials aren’t in keeping with the F-Pace’s price.
What’s it like to drive?
Get going and the engine sounds a bit grumbly at low revs. It’s not loud per se but there’s enough noise from the engine bay to serve as a reminder that similar money could have bought you a Mercedes or Audi SUV with a quieter V6 diesel. You’ll also note a bit of hesitation from the powertrain in typical low-speed urban environments. Things do settle down as speeds pick up and the engine does find its rhythm quickly enough. By default, the eight-speed automatic gearbox shuffles through the ratios to keep revs low and the engine operating for good efficiency but weigh down on the throttle and you’ll find the engine revs at the right side of 2000rpm, where the power is concentrated. The mid-range is reasonably strong and the engine pulls quite comfortably to 4000rpm and beyond. The engine helps make this F-Pace a good highway cruiser. But the small 2.0 engine sounds a bit coarse when extended and performance is not earth shattering. The 0-100kph takes a leisurely 10.66 seconds. Even a Ford Figo 1.5 diesel is quicker to the ton! The F-Pace’s near 1.8-tonne bulk really weighs it down.
Where the F-Pace comes into its element is when you introduce corners into the mix. It turns in with lovely fluidity and generally feels well balanced and sure-footed - it drives like a Jaguar SUV should. Dynamic, that is the sportiest of the four drive modes on offer, adds sufficient weight to the steering and also keeps the engine in its strong zone. The gearbox does tend to be indecisive in auto mode at times, such as when you are charging up a hilly road, but you can always tug at the paddles to take manual control. Ride comfort is largely good but more than expected vertical movement at high speeds and some side-to-side motion at low speeds are part of the experience too. Note, there are no adaptive dampers as First Edition 30ds on board here.
Should I buy one?
Even in 20d form, the F-Pace’s high asking price remains a sticky point. You see, while the 20d is significantly cheaper than the 30d, it’s still not particularly well-priced. There are larger and more powerful SUVs that cost less and that’s what makes the F-Pace a bit hard to recommend to someone not primarily interested in his/her SUV’s cornering abilities. Also, ironically enough, this F-Pace lacks in pace.
If you want the full F-Pace experience, then, we’re afraid you’ll have to stretch for the V6 diesel.