Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by Lizzie Pope
   
We've been itching to drive the Jaguar F-Pace, so when the chance came to try the 178bhp variant, we couldn't resist – what tow car potential does it have?

Few new tow cars in recent times have been as keenly anticipated as the Jaguar F-Pace.

This might seem strange. After all, this is Jaguar’s first SUV, so it has a reputation to establish, rather than one to build on.

But parent company Jaguar Land Rover has a history of building some of our favourite tow cars. Most notably the Land Rover Discovery, which we crowned our Tow Car of the Decade last year.

And Jaguar’s XF and smaller XE have recently put in strong performances during tow car tests and at Tow Car Awards testing.

So, what tow car potential does the F-Pace have?

What’s under the bonnet?

On test we have the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel, which has 178bhp and 317lb ft torque.

There is a detuned variant with 161bhp/280lb ft torque, but this is sold only with a six-speed manual gearbox.

And, of course, there are more powerful 2.0-litre diesel and petrol offerings, before you consider the mighty 3.0-litre models: either the V6 diesel or the supercharged petrol V6.

But let’s start with something a little more accessible and real world. And priced from £35,020 OTR, in Jaguar terms at least, this 178bhp model is definitely that. For the record, the range starts at £34,730 OTR and the car tested was £44,770 OTR.

Not every F-Pace is four-wheel drive, but we’re pleased to say that our test car is. This isn’t just great for pulling a tourer off a muddy pitch, it helps matching ratios, too. And with a kerbweight of 1775kg, meaning an 85% match figure of 1508kg, this car is a match for a wide range of caravans.

Getting the details right

From the moment you get into the Jaguar F-Pace, it’s clear you’re in for a treat.

The cabin is beautifully made and a lovely place to be. If you delight in thoughtful details, you’ll notice the ‘Jaguar’ script on the air vents: a neat touch.

It’s pleasing on the road, too. With that much weight and ‘just’ 178bhp at 4000rpm, accompanied by 317lb ft torque at a usefully low 1750rpm, it comes as no surprise that the 2.0-litre diesel sounds a little strained under load. After all, it’s working hard.

But this is the same engine that took the F-Pace’s Land Rover Discovery Sport stablemate to a glittering five-star rating when we subjected it to our comprehensive tow test last year. Which surely is all the proof you need that, while it’s not the top-of-the-range option, it is really rather good.

The well-insulated cabin protects occupants from the worst of the noise, and it’s quiet enough when cruising.

The smooth and surreptitious operation of the eight-speed automatic gearbox that our test car was fitted with doubtless aided the seamless power delivery. It really is excellent and you don’t notice it working; should you wish to intervene, there are shift paddles.

Behind the wheel

What also strikes you is that the Jaguar F-Pace is a seriously nice car to drive. Not ‘for an SUV’, but full stop. Of course, this is without a caravan in tow, but its characteristics should mean it tows with assurance.

It does not feel like an SUV. The F-Pace shrinks around you, which is probably at least in part due to the fact that the driver sits nearer the floor than in other SUVs, so the driving position is somewhere between that of an SUV and a sporty saloon.

Even when threading it through tight, twisting country lanes, there seems to be a disconnect between the sizeable car you walked up to and the one you’re driving. Is it really an SUV?

Our R-Sport-specced car’s chunky and compact steering wheel felt great. The big Jag’s turn-in is clean and there's enough feel for keen drivers.

Despite the 20-inch alloys wheels (a £1200 option) that ‘our’ F-Pace was fitted with, ride comfort was impressive, which bodes well for cross-country schleps when towing on your caravan holidays.

As does the fact that body roll was very well controlled, the car remaining composed even when pushed. And that its brakes were strong without being ‘grabby’.

Space to relax

We’ve said that cabin ambience is spot-on and must add that, with a wide range of adjustment, it is easy to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Rear-seat passengers aren’t short-changed, though. The luxurious feel extends to seats three and four, with generous head- and legroom.

That’s not to say there’s no fifth seat, but the chunky transmission tunnel means that whoever sits there will have to straddle it.

With nets on the backs of the front seats, air vents, a 12V socket, two USB ports and a centre armrest that pulls down to reveal a pair of cupholders, back-seat passengers really have got it good!

Also of note is that while the rear window line is quite high, in the name of aesthetics, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic, even with the privacy glass (£375) as in our test car. Although this may have been at least in part due to the fixed panoramic roof (£1200).

Practical point-scorer

Boot space is mightily impressive, too, with 650 litres when all seats are in place. It’s quick and easy to drop those rear seats (although they’re a little heavy to reinstate), and doing so gives you 1740 litres to fill.

It’s an SUV, so you have to lift items quite high to get them into the boot, but there’s no lip to negotiate. What you do have, however, are tethering points and a 12V socket in there.

Further practicality points are earned by the Jaguar F-Pace’s large wing mirrors, that should prove easy to attach towing mirrors to. And by the dashboard’s big, easy-to-read dials, that display 30 and 70 prominently.

However, there were times during our test drive where visibility at junctions was impaired by the stout, swept-back offside A-pillar. Otherwise, visibility front and rear is good.

An impressive all-rounder

So, what tow car potential does the all-new Jaguar F-Pace have? We should’ve guessed that a car sharing engines and breeding with the Land Rover Discovery Sport would not disappoint.

The luxury of yet more power will doubtless aid performance, but it’ll cost you more – outright and in terms of running costs. And apart from a little badge envy (then, get it debadged!), there can be no cries from within an F-Pace that this isn’t a seriously comfortable, luxurious place to pass the miles.

Jaguar has a hit on its hands with the F-Pace. And this surely has to be a contender at this year’s Tow Car Awards.

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