Jaguar’s four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine has already been under our gaze when powering the XE and XF, as well as the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport – but the F-Pace may represent its toughest gig yet.
This is supposed to be the most sporting SUV in its class, lest we forget – as well as one that’s right on the money for fuel economy and CO2 emissions. And while it may be true that its emissions statistics are on the pace, its performance isn’t quite, which may prove a disappointment for prospective buyers.
Where fleet-friendly, premium-brand diesel SUVs are concerned, the GLC 250 d is currently a tough act to beat, sprinting to 60mph in 7.8sec and from 30mph to 70mph through the gears in precisely the same time. The F-Pace needs 9.2sec to reach 60mph and an even less impressive 9.7sec for 30-70mph – big enough shortfalls, in our view, to make a hole in the case for buying one.
The engine doesn’t really operate with much strength or conviction, even in subjective terms. Slightly noisy and coarse under load, it launches the car away from standing responsively enough but soon starts shuffling suspiciously quickly through the ratios of the eight-speed gearbox.
A glance into our archives confirms that the F-Pace is notably shorter geared than an equivalent XF saloon – and you can’t miss that on the road. And despite the short gearing, it feels slower than most of its competitors when overtaking and accelerating hard and, although torquey at low revs, a little unwilling to work hard at higher crank speeds.
Away from the test track, the F-Pace is well capable of making fairly brisk and assured progress on country roads and it hauls along keenly enough on the motorway. The gearbox responds quickly and with a well-chosen ratio when it kicks down, and when driving at a relaxed pace it taps into the engine’s low and mid-range torque reserves very effectively.
That’s fine, of course, provided you haven’t been fed the line that the car you’ve just bought is a sports car among utility workhorses.