As long as they’ve been sold in America, Jaguars have occupied a unique space in the luxury market. Equal parts sporty and Old-World luxury, Jaguars have been for the well-heeled buyer who wants the best, but doesn’t want another German or Japanese luxury car. And for decades, that’s been great if that buyer is looking for a luxury sedan or a sports car. But as the traditional luxury automakers have increasingly shifted to SUVs, Jaguar had, until very recently, found itself left in the lurch.
Today, however, Jaguar is fielding what is arguably its finest lineup ever, and at the center of it all is the 2017 F-Pace — a handsome, powerful five-seat SUV that’s landed in the same class as the Mercedes GLC, BMW X3, and Lexus RX. Unlike most of the luxurious but bland-looking field, the F-Pace is distinctive and muscular-looking; in short it’s everything you’d want from a Jag style-wise, but as a lifted, all-wheel drive people mover.
And while the F-Pace is a crossover worthy of wearing the Jaguar badge, it had a little help getting there. Jaguar and Land Rover have been related in some form or another since 1968, and since 2008, they’ve been the same company, Jaguar Land Rover. Of course, Land Rover has written the playbook on off-roading since 1948, and its Range Rover has spent the better part of its 46 years on this planet as the luxury SUV. While the F-Pace is all Jag, it wisely turned to its sister company for help in developing its all-wheel drive system. What’s more, the F-Pace’s competitive pricing puts it into pretty direct competition with the Land Rover Discovery Sport. So in a battle of Brits, who comes out on top? That’s what we’ll find out in our latest Buy This, Not That.
Tale of the tape
Few SUVs have been as eagerly anticipated as the F-Pace, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. Like the rest of the Jaguar lineup, it has aluminum-intensive architecture, and a fully-independent suspension. And while its torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system has Land Rover DNA, its platform is shared with the also-new XE sedan (though it will be used for an upcoming Land Rover model). Power comes from a pair of supercharged 3.0-liter V6s, rated at 340 and 380 horsepower, respectively, or Jaguar Land Rover’s 2.0-liter Ingenium turbo-diesel, proving that despite the bad press, diesel isn’t dead yet.
With the 380-horse mill, the F-Pace can make the zero-to-60 scramble in a seriously impressive (for a 2-plus ton SUV) 5.3 seconds. And while it can’t quite keep up with the segment’s athlete, the Porsche Macan, in the straightaways, its superb suspension and rigid chassis means it can still put up a fight in the corners.
But performance aside (we’re talking luxury SUVs after all), the F-Pace can compete in the luxury department as well as anything in its segment. Its sporty styling continues inside, where every surface is covered in leather, aluminum, or soft-touch materials. But this is where the overlap with the Land Rover begins to appear too. Anyone who’s been in a Jaguar or Land Rover model in the last six years or so will recognize the rotary gear selector, window controls, and a host of other switchgear. It’s by no means a bad thing, but it’s enough to let you know the two companies are related.
Despite being a few inches shorter than the Jag (15 feet versus 15.5 feet) the Disco Sport manages to fit an extra row of seats in back, making it a legitimate seven-seater — as long as you have two small children back there. Style-wise, its interior is a bit more familiar than the F-Pace’s — it’s been on the market since 2015 and is seeing its first round of updates for ’17 — but fit-and-finish and use of materials is up to the same high standards.
And like Jaguar, Land Rover’s current lineup benefits from a handsome and distinctive styling language, and the Disco Sport wears it well. Despite being 9 inches longer, and (thankfully) avoiding its sloping roof line, it could easily be mistaken for the stylish Evoque. Under the hood, however, the SUV doesn’t quite live up to its Sport moniker. The same 2.0 diesel mill is offered, but the lone gas powerplant is a 240-horse, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic.
The Disco Sport is a luxury SUV with seating for seven (well, comfortable seating for five), unbeatable British luxury, and Land Rover’s reputation for ruggedness — the company just doesn’t make trucks that are afraid to get dirty. And with the SE model starting at a reasonable $38,690, and the range-topping HSE Luxury from $46,695, it offers more truck than virtually anything else in the segment — and the F-Pace is no exception here. It starts at $42,390, but well-optioned models will leave dealerships for $70K or more. So the Land Rover is cheaper, smaller, has more seating, and is nearly as nice inside. This should be a no-brainer, right?
Believe it or not, we’d be crazy not to pick the Jaguar F-Pace. Despite the Land Rover’s positive attributes (and there are many), we can’t resist the Jag’s good looks, great interior, fantastic chassis, and impressive performance. Plus, it comes with Jaguar’s competitive five-year/60,000-mile EliteCare warranty, which is virtually a necessity when you’re dealing with complex British cars. Jaguar and Land Rover may be at the top of their game, but when it comes to compact SUVs, the F-Pace is the star of the show.
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