Well, they’ve got away with it, haven’t they? Land Rover’s sister brand parked its tanks on the family lawn by building a wilfully stylish, clumsily named SUV, but Jaguar’s F-Pace hasn’t brought about civil war in middle England. Because the most handsome SUV money can buy is not a 4×4 that feels hamstrung away from rough terrain. It wants to live on the road.
Tread mighty carefully with the spec. The 22-inch wheel-shod F-Pace in the picture is the most photogenic one, but though some fashionable types in the TG office are prepared to put up with the comfort compromise the stylists’ favoured rims bring, you can choose handsome 20s on an F-Pace that transform the ride and handling into something far more Jaguarish. Leave the Germans to the business of wheel one-upmanship, and spend the change upgrading the infotainment to the (at long last) world-class InControl Touch Pro screen, to give the F-Pace’s rather plain cabin the fundamentals are fine.
Finally, Jaguar has produced an aluminium-bodied car where the weight savings are palpable – this is a remarkably agile bus – without eating up valuable space inside. It’s a roomier car than its closest rivals, and what it loses in handling genius to the Porsche Macan that Jaguar so publicly benchmarked, it gains in hushed cruising refinement and comfy seats.
The turbodiesel V6 that delivers the power this car so clearly deserves isn’t the freest-revving motor, but the torque delivery is meaty and it settles well when not being abused. Details that you’ll struggle to prioritise on a test drive, but will warm you to the Jag during a long period of exposure. Nerdy points in what’s actually quite a cool bit of kit. A proper modern Jaguar that doesn’t feel at all out of place in the range. Grace, pace and space, says the old Jag cliche. Check, check, and check.