My first glimpse of Jaguar’s F-Pace R-Sport 20d was memorable. I saw the car in profile at dusk where it was subtly lit by the setting sun. It sat atop beefy twenty-inch, five-spoke black rims wrapped in 255-width Michelins and appeared hunkered down, ready for just about anything.
The Jaguar looked like a mid-sized powerlifter stuffed into a well-cut suit. Nice.
It’s fair to say that I anticipated ripping about for a week in living room comfort while enjoying the soundtrack from a well-tuned high horsepower V6.
Then I noticed the badge indicating that beneath the bonnet of this particular Jag was a small displacement diesel engine.
Had this powerlifter been avoiding leg day?
Jaguar’s F-Pace R-Sport 20d is a two-litre, four-cylinder engine that quickly warms and settles to a murmur that I can’t hear without aggressive use of my right foot. The smooth eight-speed transmission applies the available power very nicely. It doesn’t hunt for gears and responds to manual inputs politely, if not quickly. The dynamic driving mode allows me to hold gears and wring out the engine – but two litres of diesel oomph aren’t capable of pushing this 4,300-pound Jag into the stratosphere.
While the Jag doesn’t smoke tires or urge me to drop the windows and head for the nearest tunnel, it does return mixed city and highway fuel consumption of 7.7L/100km. If your intent is to leave other mid-sized sport utility vehicles languishing in your rearview, I’d suggest looking at an F-Pace that drinks gasoline.
In the city, the F-Pace feels a little larger than it actually is. However, armed with accurate distance control cameras, squeezing the Jaguar into snug street parking doesn’t pose a problem. On the highway, the F-Pace is mild-mannered, very comfortable, and eats bumps and ruts better than I expect from a car running in twenty-inch shoes. The brakes feel consistent – even during unplanned quick stops – and bring the F-Pace to a surprisingly abrupt halt.
The gear selector in this car is an unobtrusive disc in the centre console and other than a small on/off button for the radio (an engineering afterthought, perhaps) it represents the only protrusion from a clean and orderly dashboard. The entirety of the driving and infotainment systems in the F-Pace are operated through a large in-dash screen, a few flush-mounted buttons on the centre console and the stalks mounted to the steering wheel. The dash is otherwise free from distractions, like strips of wood harvested by eco-terrorists.
I have no trouble manipulating the touch-screen controls and can easily ask the F-Pace to make me comfortable and keep me entertained. The sound system is fantastic, offering several listening modes and the multi-media functions enable a quick and seamless sync with my iPhone. The navigation system is adequate, but without electronic manipulation, the map periodically re-orients itself and displays a view that the F-Pace expects me to appreciate.
The heated and ventilated seats are firm without being harsh. I do slide around to some extent when driving with gusto and would appreciate a little more side support for my thighs. Nonetheless, when positioned in conjunction with the electrically adjustable steering wheel I can be comfortable for hours when driving like an adult.
The aggressive stance of the F-Pace includes a roofline that does not comfortably accommodate second row passengers who are taller than 6’4”. If you’re taller than this you’ll have to either find someone else to drive you back to the circus or ride with the Jaguar’s massive panoramic glass roof in the open position and affect the look of a giraffe. The F-Pace sends power to all four wheels and as such rear passengers in the middle will have to contend with limited legroom courtesy of the ‘hump’.
Jaguar’s F-Pace R-Sport 20d provides a very accommodating and economical place to be whether eating highway miles or getting around town.
I have a good relationship with the muscular looking F-Pace – and can almost forget that it routinely skips the squat rack.
2018 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 20d
Base Price: $61,000
As Tested: $72,562
Drivetrain: two-litre four-cylinder diesel; 180 horsepower, 317 lb-ft of torque, eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
Performance: 7.7 litres per 100 km in mixed driving
VVUZZ Recommended: It won’t win the race to the kids’ soccer game, but it will definitely make an entrance.
Images courtesy of the author.