The Jaguar F-Pace pounced onto the scene here in June last year, and while it ticked all the boxes that a modern luxury SUV needs to tick (basically, it looks good) it had one key shortcoming: The lack of a modest gasoline engine.
It debuted with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel and a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged engine, the later a very familiar sight throughout the Jaguar Land Rover range of products. Diesels, still looked at with suspicion in a car, still leaves many Singaporean buyers cold, while the 340hp supercharged V6 was, on the other hand, just a little too hot for some in both price and performance.
In that sense, the new 2.0-litre gasoline ‘Ingenium’ engine – the latest JLR group drivetrain tech – is now the Goldilocks engine. With 250hp on board, it’s just about right in terms of output, and this variant, the R Sport, is $1k cheaper than its diesel counterpart.
That’s good news indeed because the premium SUV segment has really hotted up, even from a year ago, and there are many feral competitors in the ecosystem: The new Audi Q5, the soon-to-arrive BMW X3 – although the X4 with its coupe-esque lines might be a closer match, the new Volvo XC60, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC, and/or GLC Coupe. The GLC itself has the matching GLC 250 model, but also an even lesser, and likely more popular, GLC 200.
The F-Pace’s Ingenium engine’s up there with the key competition: It delivers a hefty amount of power and more torque than most of the rivals, 365Nm versus 350Nm, close to the Audi Q5’s class-leading 370Nm. Not that you’d notice, the Jaguar’s rapid enough and deceptively refined, so you’ll gain more speed than you thought.
The familiar ZF eight-speeder does duty and shifts power to the rear wheels only, unlike the all-wheel drive V6, which also accounts partially for the 110kg weight saving over that model. As a result, the 2.0’s very agile and fun to drive on most road conditions.
The only fur on your tongue here is that it doesn’t do bumps well, as mid-corner lumps tend to throw it off a little, and bigger imperfections make the car squat. As far as sporty luxury SUVs go, it’s not the worst offender, this aspect along with the occasional random lurch from the gearbox, disturb the veneer of calm somewhat.
The R-Sport model comes with adjustable dynamics – you can mess around with the steering, engine and transmission response, and there are regular driving modes to use too, though adaptive suspension is a conspicuous absence at this price range.
While the car’s still heavy on smart looks, there’s plenty of space on the inside and the massive 650-litre boot, and it comes with a full complement of the usual equipment including a nav-packing infotainment system. For those who opt for the smallest price tag, the 2.0 Prestige offers a further $13k saving, where you lose the sunroof, the drive modes, and the perforated leather seats.That probably represents better value for most buyers, unless one simply has to have the R Sport trappings, as we can’t see it behaving much differently in terms of actual driving.
At the end of the day though, that might be exactly what many buyers want. Spiritually the closest related car would be the new Range Rover Velar, which uses the same drivetrain and platform, though it didn’t impress us very much in 3.0 V6 guise, so presumably those who buy the car do so on the basis of its looks alone.
In comparison, the Jaguar doesn’t have as many compromises, and still looks a lithe enough beast, so buyers who’ve always wanted to get with the pace, but needed a 2.0 gasoline engine, can now do it in peace.
Jaguar F-Pace 2.0 R-Sport
Engine 1,997cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 250hp at 5500rpm
Torque 365Nm at 1200-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 217km/h
0-100km/h 6.8 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.1L/100km
Price $266,999 with COE
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Verdict: A mainstream engine adds more appeal to the F-Pace but the competition is just as sharp-clawed in the very active SUV/crossover segment.