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RARE is the entry-level model that can excite a prospective buyer more than a higher-end variant but the Jaguar F-Pace 2.0 diesel AWD is one of them.
The British marque launches its first performance crossover this month with three engine outputs - 180 hp 2.0D, 340 hp 3.0 V6 Supercharged, and 380 hp 3.0 V6 Supercharged.
The petrol-engined V6 may be more muscular but the 180 hp turbodiesel's ability to deliver driver enjoyment is a big surprise.
Of course it helps that the F-Pace is mechanically engineered to be an extremely competent crossover.
It shares the XE compact saloon's platform, with the same double-wishbone and Integral Link suspension set-up and an aluminium-intensive monocoque body that is stylishly distinctive and spaciously useable. Think of it as an XE with a taller body and longer wheelbase but just as fun to drive.
The F-Pace's relatively long wheelbase - 2,874 mm - not only benefits rear legroom but also ride comfort.
Its torque on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) system sends 100 per cent of the engine's torque to the rear axle under normal conditions to give it Jaguar's rear-wheel drive character. But when greater traction is needed, up to 50 per cent of this is seamlessly transferred to the front axle.
Add Jaguar's trademark steering and suspension tuning and you will understand why the F-Pace shines. The electric power assisted steering has a variable steering ratio as standard; the more the steering wheel is turned, the more responsive it becomes. There is amazing feedback and going fast into an S-bend, this 1,651 mm tall SUV feels as connected as a sports car, thanks to torque vectoring to brake the inner wheels and minimise understeer.
The 2.0 turbodiesel produces a whopping 430 Nm of torque but it still pales in comparison to the V6's oomph. That means you have to work the 2.0D harder going in and coming out of a corner.
But this is where the fun begins because get it right and the F-Pace 2.0D rewards you with its sublime dynamics. The meaty steering is precise, the front axle compliant over uneven surfaces, and the body control near-perfect.
Most of all, it is so much more involving squeezing every ounce of power out of a small engine than bashing through easily with a big motor.
At about 1,800 kg, the F-Pace 2.0D is no lightweight. But Jaguar says this EU5 unit consumes just 5.5 litres of fuel per 100 km under the combined cycle or 18.2 km per litre.
There is no question about the crossover's ride comfort and interior space though. The F-Pace's ability to blend handling and comfort has to be its biggest strength. And that is another reason why entry-level is not necessarily the lowest level.
Jaguar F-Pace 2.0D AWD
Engine: 1,999cc turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Max power: 180 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Max torque: 430 Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
0-100 kmh: 8.7 secs
Top speed: 208 kmh
CO2 emissions: 145 g/km
Average OMV: S$56,000
Price: S$245,999 (with COE)
Distributor: Wearnes Automotive