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Jaguar F-Pace: The f'ing good and the f'ing bad

Jaguar has never made an SUV before and yet here we are looking at the 2017 World Car of the Year. So it's time to bust out the champagne, right? Ben Griffin takes a look at the pros and cons after a week-long road test.

When we booked the F-Pace in for an extended road test in the UK, we had no idea it was going to become the 2017 World Car of the Year virtually the same day it arrived at Recombu Towers. Nor did we know it would win World Car Design of the Year.

Jaguar's answer to the SUV beat the Audi Q5 and VW Tiguan to the punch for the best car accolade, as voted for by 75 fellow motoring journalists. Proof, if ever it was needed, that SUVs are flavour of the month.

Meanwhile it was the Honda CH-R and Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet that were deemed less pretty and the F-Pace was already the proud owner of the 2016 Women's World Car of the Year trophy. As voted for by women, presumably.

We already knew it was a good car, but the first time we drove it was in Montenegro and that sort of breathtaking scenery would put anyone in a good mood. It was time, then, to see what Jaguar's second best-selling vehicle could do on UK soil.

1) The exterior

One look at the Audi Q5 or Q7 and you will be running for the bleach to apply generously to your eye-holes. But with the Jaguar, you could stare at it all day. It has a front-end reminiscent of the XE and XF and the profile is sleek and curvy. It's still a box on wheels, but it's a damn stylish one.

2) The interior

Even with some rather nice red leather and overall solid build quality, let's be honest, this is where the Jaguar F-Pace falls down. Some of the plastics would look tacky in Poundland and, while the styling is mostly nice to look at, in certain areas it's downright cumbersome.

3) The practicality

SUVs are meant to be practical and not just poser-mobiles. So it is good to know the F-Pace can house 650 litres with the rear seats up, as much as a BMW X5, and 1,740 litres with them flat, which is more than the Land Rover Discovery Sport (1,698 litres). The rear seats can be split in a 40:20:40 arrangement for added versatility.

4) The passenger space

Another plus of the F-Pace is the sheer level of space you get beyond the boot. Those up to 6ft will be happy in the back seats, even with the optional fixed panoramic roof in place, and leg room is even more plentiful.

There is no option of seven seats so really big families should look elsewhere, but some of its competitors are guilty of this, too.

5) The running costs

Go for the little 2.0-litre diesel and Jaguar claims up to 57.6mpg and CO2 of 129g/km if you are happy with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive reduces the figures to 53.3mpg and 139g/km, respectively.

As for the the 3.0-litre V6 supercharged lump from the F-Type, the F-Pace is said to achieve up to 31.7mpg and 209g/km of CO2, making it Mr Frugal when it wants to be.

6) The depreciation

Almost all new cars depreciate at a depressingly costly rate, but the F-Pace does seem like it will fare better than some of its rivals. Potentially better than an equivalent BMW, but maybe not as well as an equivalent Porsche. Not that many brand new cars are a wise investment.

7) The refinement

The F-Pace manages to smooth out lumps and bumps confidently and with relatively few issues. It is also tremendously quiet at motorway speeds, with only the faint hum of the engine and wind noise keeping you from total silence.

Well, that and any children you have. The diesels can be more gruff and noisy than rival equivalents, but the eight-speed ZF soon drops the revs and near-silence is restored.

8) The handling

For a car taller than some houses, the F-Pace manages to feel light and spritely. It is never going to challenge a saloon because of physics, but it has a bloody good go and the result is more lively and sporty than its dimensions would suggest.

If there is such a thing as a driver's SUV, this is one of the best examples, especially once you start loading up on horsepower.

9) The infotainment

People want to be wowed with technology and the F-Pace has a solid enough infotainment system, but we have seen better and the superior touchscreen option is a lot more money.

Plus there is no support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, if either of those mean anything to you. With that said, InControl is fairly easy to use and the navigation system didn't try to take us for a long drive along a short pier.

10) The price

It is a little easy to bump up the price of the Jaguar F-Pace with optional goodies such as 20-inch alloys (£1,200), silver paintjob (£675), fixed panoramic roof (£1,200) and the black pack (£660). Our test car, for instance, came in at £44,770 – virtually £10,000 above list price.

We reckon most people would be happy with the bottom-spec Prestige though, which comes with grained leather seats, adjustable front seats, 18-inch alloys and daytime running lights. Yours for £34,730, which is cheap for any SUV – let alone one this pretty.

Jaguar F-Pace: The verdict?

After some careful consideration it really is time to celebrate with a glass or two of the champers. Because the biggest problem with the F-Pace is one you can overlook once it starts moving.

Partly because you spend very little time admiring the stitching of a dashboard while driving (it's quite unsafe apparently), but mainly because the rest of the package is, to put it bluntly, f'ing excellent.

The Jaguar F-Pace looks stylish, drives well, can manage a spot of off-roading, keeps your running costs reasonably low and offers decent levels of practicality. All of that for a first attempt – maybe it does deserve an award, after all.

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