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2017 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 2.0d AWD review

THERE WAS a time, not as long ago as the company might like to admit, that Jaguar refused to stoop to the level of other car makers and sell cars with anything as common as a diesel engine.

Then someone woke up to the reason that car makers like Audi, BMW and Mercedes were selling ten times as many cars: they had diesel motors throughout their range.

The first Jaguar to burn heavy oil was the X-Type, introduced in 2003 – 67 years after Mercedes put its 260 D on sale.

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Today, the company not only offers a wide range of diesel-powered cars, but an SUV, the F-Pace. It’s the fastest-selling Jaguar of all time, says the company. And the model that the majority of drivers buy is the 2.0d R-Sport AWD, seen here.

At this point, it’s tempting to extend sympathies to all those F-Pace owners, and hand out a lifetime’s supply of earplugs. Because if our test car was anything to go by, this is one of the most unpleasant diesel engines on the road.

At low engine revs there is the most appalling grumbling noise and vibration coming up through the F-Pace’s aluminium structure. Imagine an upstairs flat’s washing machine on the spin cycle.

At 70mph the diesel engine rattles the cabin, so you must decide: drive at about 60mph and arrive late everywhere you go; or speed up to over 80 mph and risk losing your licence

This is so pronounced that it bears comparison with one of the roughest engines of all time, the Ford 2-litre, four-cylinder ‘YB’ petrol that powered the thuggish Sierra and Escort Cosworth models.

Despite comments from passengers, it might be possible to overlook this racket if it went away when you were cruising on main roads. Unfortunately, the engine is turning over at about 1,700rpm at 70mph, exactly the point where it rattles the cabin. So you must decide: drive at about 60mph and arrive late everywhere you go; or speed up to over 80mph and risk losing your licence.

Visiting friends, a neighbour asked for a second opinion on a knocking noise they thought the diesel engine in their six-year old Mercedes E 200d was making. The knocking was faint but even with it, the noise overall seemed whisper-quiet in comparison with the F-Pace.

And then there’s the performance. Or rather, the lack of it. Jaguar describes the F-Pace as a “luxury performance” car but there is nothing about the driving experience that suggests you’ve paid for something a cut above the herd of other SUVs on the road.

It is said to take just under nine seconds to accelerate to 62mph, but someone was counting too quickly. The acceleration is initially brisk, because the engineers have cunningly made the first part of the throttle pedal’s movement give most of the engine’s power. But as you extend it toward the floor, the diesel engine runs out of puff and feels like it’s struggling to add every single mile per hour.

What’s more, it only returned an average of 36mpg, well short of its claimed 53mpg, while its over-£40,000 price sees it fall into the higher £450 annual road tax band from year two after registration.

The 2.0d’s shortcomings are a shame because the F-Pace could be a joy to drive. The all-wheel drive system, while completely unnecessary on a car with this little performance, has been engineered to send 90% of its power to the back wheels in everyday driving conditions, so the F-Pace feels agile. And it steers with a rare precision for this type of car, handling a winding road with relative enthusiasm – although a Porsche Macan is still the bar that no other SUV-maker can hurdle.

2017 Jaguar F Pace R-Sport 2.0d review

Coupled with a smooth, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, decent ride comfort, elegant-looking interior, good driving position, top build quality and well-designed infotainment system, this could have been a solid package. It’s one of the best-looking SUVs going, too.

Perhaps the lesson here is to either invest in a set of moulded earplugs or stretch to the smooth, powerful V6 diesel version. Better still, buy a Porsche Macan.

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