Everywhere I went in my Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport, I met a man who said his wife wanted one of those. It was uncanny. On forecourts, outside school, in the street, there was a Jag fancier with a demanding wife. As any fool knows, the Jaguar is the ultimate anniversary vehicle, the car you buy as a couple at a certain point that says you’ve Done OK. It’s like renewing your vows, only the vow was to maintain a steady, decent income. When I was at university, my friend’s parents bought a Jag with a personalised number plate, and she said, “Dad, but that means sexually transmitted disease”, and he said, “It may mean that to you, young lady, but it means Sean and Tracey Dixon to your mother and me.” So there’s a chance that when men say, “The missus wants it,” they mean, “I want it and she still loves me enough to pretend to.” But I don’t think that’s what’s going on: there’s something about the F-Pace R-Sport that is particularly metrosexual, built for the distaff sensibility which the real man, of course, is only too happy to access.
It is outstandingly handsome: clean, beefy lines and an attractive but not undue heft (it has aluminium casing; it will never be dainty but it doesn’t feel wasteful). It’s an automatic that purrs through all eight gears as if gliding to a meeting with another fabulous, exotic cat. It’s a turbocharged diesel, but Jaguar rules at those, accepting none of the sluggishness or reluctance you often accept as the pay-off for economy. The all-wheel drive gives it an ersatz-country feel, as if you could be whizzing up a dirt track to the stables, and it’s just happenstance that puts you on the way to Waitrose. Life is too short to explain torque vectoring in full, but it puts the brake emphasis on the inside rear wheel and makes you feel sporty and nimble at awkward angles. The ride is outrageously smooth, you could go over an elk and only notice in the rear-view. The cabin is classy, harking back to an era when to perforate a leather good was the endpoint of chic. The controls look sharp, the screen quality is almost sumptuous, but it has none of the needless complication that can hamper a cluster with a lot of features, docks, compatibilities and alerts, and it has none of the fussiness that comes with nooks and crannies.
I think what they’re trying to say, all those people whose wives like it, is that it’s really good. I think that’s what we’re talking about here.
Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport in numbers
Top speed 129mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions 139g/km
Eco rating 7/10
Cool rating 7/10
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010