FIRST TEST Jaguar F-Pace versus Mercedes GLC. New king of the hill?

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Autobild presents the first-ever test Jaguar F-Pace versus Mercedes GLC. The first comparison tries to establish if the new ”off-road cat” can upset the established leaders in the ever expanding premium mid-size SUV segment. Full verdict.

A stately Jaguar with more than 1.65 meters in height? The unusual sight fades out amazingly fast. The F-Pace sends enough signals to qualify as a true Jaguar: the long hood lifted from its limousine siblings and catlike narrow headlights and taillights. The design is successful enough to meet the middle ground between ”old luxury” and “high-tech bonanza.” So, Jaguar cautiously enters the next novel territory for the brand. What Porsche, Maserati and Bentley did, Jaguar may also do. But will the first SUV for the brand be good enough to beat the current herd leader, the Mercedes GLC, who last won the AUTO BILD comparison test?

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Seven centimeters in length and five in breadth- the Jaguar is half a size larger than the Mercedes. And inside too it is airy, especially at shoulder level, although the smaller windscreen detracts from the panoramic view. Who wants a sexy look will also ignore this. Jaguar celebrates the typical show: leather with double stitching, tachometer… too small, the protruding gear knob too big, everywhere Jaguar logos and many submenus on the 10.2-inch touch screen that can only result in some confusing times. English quirks 3.0. The GLC does it all accurately. German flat. Here a classic key goes in the lock, the lever is a decent stick behind the wheel (American style). It even offers reasonable storage room on the center console. The seats are so trustworthy firm as the steering, only the trunk (550-1600 liters) sees itself beaten by the family-friendly “Cave” of the F-Pace.

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The GLC 250 d is powered by the most popular engine in the range. The 2.1-liter diesel is as good as a janitor, sometimes fast, sometimes reluctant, but always efficient – just as zealous as the modern nine-speed automatic transmission! Once under way, the four-cylinder carries out its job quietly in the comfortable GLC cocoon. Especially the air suspension with its clear stages absorbs the outside world like a sponge. The Jaguar wants to spoil, but differently so. With the adaptive dampers (1210 Euro) the aluminum front axle stumbles only over deep holes, but the drive remains posh enough. Diesel? Is that a diesel? The new two-liter (from the sedan XE) accelerated so discreetly and uniformly that one forgets this is an engine which should gargle like a heavy whiskey drinker. In fact, it swallows moderately 8.6 liters/100 km as reported by the on-board computer (Mercedes: 8.1 liters).

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Inconspicuous as a butler. This is how the engine is served by the ZF automatic and its eight speed steps, never rushed, but never exceedingly sporty either. “Dynamic” is the sharpest of the three driving modes offered by the F-Pace. Even in this setting, though, the electromechanical steering always retains its light fluffiness which defines the character of the cat. The F-Pace moves portly, as well, although it weights 70 kilos less than the surprisingly more agile GLC thanks to its aluminum body.

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Still, the F-Pace does not speak the English of “sports car for all weather”. Responsible Jaguars will always offer the compromise between comfort and agility, says Dave Shaw, chief of Jaguar body development. A Porsche Macan will not overtake the Jaguar on comfort. Therefore, the British rolls in its price list. If the basic prices for the F-Pace (47 490 Euro with all-wheel drive, automatic gearbox and 18-inch wheels) are largely on par with those of the Mercedes, the extras list is equally extensive. Wheels go as high as 22 inch in size (goodbye off-terrain), electrically adjustable backrest in the rear, a gravel program or the Activity Key – a waterproof bracelet dedicated to active swimmers etc..  Customer bait at its best. How reasonably contrasting sounds the greater and meaningful 66-gallon tank offered by Mercedes for only 60 euros!

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VERDICT. Numbers don’t lie. The F-Pace is already the fastest-selling Jaguar in the program: 12 000 pre-orders have been received. Sweet on the eye, the F-Pace will quickly seduce the audience. But the GLC remains the cheaper, more spacious and even the sportier SUV (peculiar!) of the two. Germany 1, England 0.

Specifications Jaguar F-Pace 20d: • Engine: Four cylinder, turbocharged, front longitudinal • Displacement: 1999 cc • Power: 132 kW (180 hp) at 4000 / min • max. Torque: 430 Nm at 1750 / min • Vmax 208 km / h • 0-100 km / h: 8.7 s • Drive: Permanent four-wheel, eight-speed automatic transmission • Fuel tank capacity: 60 l • L / B / H: 4731/2070 / 1652 mm • wheelbase: 2874 mm • trunk: 650-1740 l • Net weight: 1775 kg • EU mix consumption: 5.3 l / 100 km • Price: from 47 490 Euro (Germany)

Specifications Mercedes GLC 250 d 4Matic: • Engine: Four-cylinder, twin turbo, front longitudinal • Displacement: 2143 cc • Power: 150 kW (204 hp) at 3800 / min • max. Torque: 500 Nm at 1600 / min • Vmax 222 km / h • 0-100 km / h: 7.6 s • drive: Permanent four-wheel, nine-speed automatic transmission • Fuel tank capacity: 50 L • L / B / H: 4656/1890 / 1639 mm • wheelbase: 2873 mm • trunk: 550-1600 l • Net weight: 1845 kg • EU mix consumption: 5.0 l / 100 km • Price: from 46 410 Euro