What is it?
Our wade through the Jaguar F-Pace line-up continues with a UK drive of the 296bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. The larger oil-burner comes exclusively in the more luxurious S trim and can be had only with the eight-speed ZF automatic and Gaydon’s rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
Experience abroad suggests that the model ought to be the pick of the range, remedying the four-cylinder Ingenium motor’s tendency to come over all clattery and overworked the moment the throttle pedal gets pushed hard. Certainly there ought to be more energy on tap; the V6 provides almost 200lb ft more torque from similarly low revs.
Its premium is equally as significant. The mid-spec 2.0d AWD R-Sport model we road tested a few weeks ago started at £40,360; for the diesel S, it’s £51,450. The kit list is extensive, though. Of the few options selected on our test car, the most notable is the upgrade to 22in wheels, giving Jaguar’s adaptive suspension even more work to do on Gloucestershire’s quick A-roads.
What's it like?
I’ve actually driven the V6 before - once under the veil of pre-launch secrecy in south Wales and later across Sweden and Norway for a feature. The first time it was a hand-fettled development on 22in rims; the second time it wore winter tyres and faced mostly compacted snow. Both times I thought it irresistible: big-chested, snug-riding and generally as indulgent as you’d hope nearly two tonnes of Jaguar would be.
It has occurred to me, though, that both previous experiences came almost exclusively with the engine pre-heated like a baker’s oven. Here, from cold, and until the oil warms its nether regions, there is some clatter to remind you that it’s diesel being compressed rather than petrol. After a few minutes, this settles down into the kind of far-away sonorousness that makes the Ingenium seem very much like an underling – although not without completely expunging a slight gruffness at low revs.
It’s forgiveable, though; not least because the mid-range comes with a gratifying whirr and the kind of munificent shove that makes the F-Pace’s impressive sporting credentials seem all the more worthwhile. Jaguar quotes 60mph in 5.8sec, but really it’s the overtaking and motorway merging wallop that makes sense, along with the way the V6 wafts energetically through the ZF’s ratios rather than grabbing at them like the flustered four-pot model.
Also on the road test’s list of demerits was the passive suspension’s tendency to go a bit clunky over broken surfaces. The S model’s adaptive dampers don’t immediately alleviate the suspicion of boniness at slow speeds, and the car is noiser than I remember – two criticisms it’s probably fair to attribute to those oversized rims. The comparative shortfall in refinement is easily bearable if you’re besotted with the look, but don’t be surprised if the standard wheels offer a sweeter compromise.
On the open road, all tends to be forgiven anyway. At speed, the F-Pace’s capacity for conveying the initially relaxed, long-travel, high-roll-centre feel of an SUV without having it diminish a saloon-like enthusiasm for cornering is striking. The progressive, memory-mattress-quality body control and hip-pivoting, vectored grip of the all-wheel drive system deliver an impressive free-flowing feel, resulting in a crossover that can driven for enjoyment, very quickly, without ever seeming like it’s engaged in the business of trying particularly hard. Little wonder that the V6’s mellow generosity suits it down to the ground.
Should I buy one?
There was always a decent chance, given the shared XF underpinnings, that the V6 diesel version would prove to be the pick of the litter, and so it turns out. The price hike will be a stumbling block, though; the S trim doesn’t necessarily fix the F-Pace’s somewhat inconsistent cabin, and it makes the car noticeably more expensive than the equivalent Porsche Macan.
But the Jaguar is more practical, prettier, more powerful and just as affordable to run. It also drives better - or at least more enjoyably most of the time. That makes it 95% of everything we’d want from a Jaguar crossover.
Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d S AWD
Location Gloucester; On sale Now; Price £51,450; Engine V6, 2993cc, diesel; Power 296bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 516lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1884kg; Top speed 150mph; 0-62mph 6.2sec; Economy 47.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 159g/km, 31%