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Jaguar’s new F-Pace offers a diesel option

‘A diesel Jaguar SUV?” That was the most common question I received from puzzled co-workers and friends. Yes, it’s true. Jaguar must have decided that if Porsche could succeed with a premium CUV, they could, too.

I recently tested a 2017 Jaguar F-Pace, and with the full-time all-wheel drive, it felt more like a sport wagon from days past than a crossover.

While the name could use a re-think, the styling is spot on. Looking at the F-Pace, you think athletic, not heavy or blocky-shaped, and it looks like it’s a part of the Jaguar family.

Jaguar now offers the F-Pace with an inline-four turbodiesel featuring 317 pound-feet of twist but a drop of 200 horsepower from the V-6 in the F-Pace S. It’s teamed with a crisp-shifting, rotary-dial, eight-speed automatic.

Inside, the F-Pace is spacious, but I did find this version a little dark except for the contrasting tan stitching on the black leather seating and panels. There’s decent space for five adults inside, but the seats are a little firm and could use more bolstering. The power split back seats fold down to boost cargo space from 33.5 cubic feet behind the second row to 61.4 cubic feet.

As for technology, all F-Pace models come with Jaguar’s InControl infotainment system. My test vehicle came with optional 10.2-inch capacitive touch screen, easy-to-use SSD-based navigation, bright and colorful 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster and outstanding Meridan 825W surround sound system. I liked the power tailgate that opens with the wave of your foot (a la Ford Escape) if the key fob is in your pocket.

On road, the F-Pace drives like a very competent wagon. It has strong braking, smooth handling and responds to driver input. In around-town driving, on 19-inch tires, the ride is not cushy but not uncomfortable either. The eight-speed automatic comes with paddle shifters to spice things up. Step on the diesel and passing power is adequate enough, and for off-roading (on mild trails), the diesel’s low-end grunt is good. The F-Pace’s standard all-wheel drive is a chain-driven setup that splits power from rear bias to up to a 50/50 division rear to front. The percentage is based on measured acceleration and cornering forces. Off-roading is possible up to the

8.4 inches of ground clearance,

approach and departure angles of 25.5 degrees and 25.7 degrees, respectively, and you can ford up to 20.7 inches of water.

According to Jaguar, handling rocks, sand, heavy snow or deep muddy ruts is possible with selectable Jaguar Drive Control. A center-console selector allows you to choose driving modes that adjust throttle, gearing and traction-control settings based on the selected driving environment.

So, now how long will it be till Jaguar’s cousin, Range Rover, adds an AWD sedan?

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