HomeOpinionThe sporty SUVs shootout

The sporty SUVs shootout

Andrew Muzamhindo
Analyst

ARE you looking for a cool new family car that offers more than just the practicality of a sport utility vehicle (SUV)?

Making a decision on which vehicle to buy can be quite a challenge, a head-scratching exercise.

There are life decisions such as those to get married, make a major purchase, have children, go to college, move, turn right or left amongst other important choices.

Then there are major decisions that may not be as life-altering, but do affect the outcome of an individual’s day, such as the decision to get out of bed, take a bath, go to work or school— you know— the normal routines.

According to The Mirror, the average person will make 773 618 decisions over a lifetime and will come to regret 143 262 of them.

Some scholars estimate that an adult makes about 35 000 conscious decisions each day. (Sahakian and Labuzetta, 2013). This number may sound incongruous but, in fact, we make 2 267 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University (Wansink and Sobal, 2007).

Jeff Bezos, the CE and founder of Amazon, says: “If I make, like, three good decisions a day, that’s enough. And they should be as high quality as I can make them. Warren Buffett says he’s good if he makes three good decisions a year.”

These rich gentlemen focus on few decisions that matter. The downfall of many is trying to make too many decisions in a short space of time, some that have nothing to do with you at times. This causes decision fatigue. In the end you might make bad decisions or none at all!

If you know the car you are about to buy will be used mostly by your wife, let her make the decision.

What would you opt for between the performance-inspired 2018 Jaguar F-PACE S 35t and BMW X3 M40 SUVs?

The Jaguar F-Pace S came into being in 2016, and it has since undergone a few minor updates. Until the fire-breathing SVR V8 arrives, this is the flagship variant. It’s available with either the 30d twin-turbo diesel that produces 221kW and 700Nm, or, the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol that barks out 280kW and 450Nm. This is the most authoritative variant on sale. I hear there is 404kW SVR on the way.

From Germany comes the BMW X3 M40i. It uses a 3-litre turbo inline six that screams out 265kW and 500Nm. Like the Jaguar, the X3 adopts an eight-speed automatic built by ZF. However, the X3 uses a constant all-wheel drive system while the Jaguar’s setup is a variable on-demand type of setup. The M40i is also the flagship variant, until the X3 M comes along.

BMW takes a different approach to Jaguar by equipping the X3 M40i with such features as a head-up display, a premium Harman/kardon sound system, adaptive headlamps, power tailgate and heated seats all as standard. It certainly wants for little, and its spec list absolutely reinforces the M40i’s flagship status.

The fast Jag is pricier than the BMW, but is a bit thin on the specs. The basics are there, but what about a powered tailgate or Jag’s high-end infotainment suite? They are reserved for the options list. That means you pay more to get the top Jag F-Pace.

The X3 has a dark premium cabin that feels sporty, thanks to classy design and superb seats. It gives you a sportier feel inside whilst Jaguar offers a sleeker feel. The X3 also boasts commendable space and practicality. It is blessed with the high-set infotainment screen and BMW’s iDrive controller that remains segment-leading for ease of use and feature-count.

The F-Pace’s interior is more about restrained elegance than overt luxury, with design that is uncluttered but lacking in the flair that I expect from a premium SUV. The systems interface needs refinement to make it intuitive and maximise all of that screen real estate that is mounted on it.

On the road, the X3 M40i is more focussed when you ring it up to Sport Plus, yet remains plush for daily duty in comfort mode. If you are dropping kids at school, the dampers slacken to ensure your kids are comfortable during the ride. It is versatile and ably ticks the boxes when it comes to performance and practicality, which what is expected from a sporty SUV.

It is clear Jaguar has reserved the appropriate dynamic chassis settings for the F-Pace SVR. It has smoothness to its suspension that places it as a powerful cruiser. Even so, its rear-biased AWD system and torque vectoring means it can turn like a cat sliced mid-way.

When you step on the gas pedal of the BMW, the turbo inline six feels not so alert or as powerful and smooth as the Jag’s engine, but its strength lies in its 50Nm peak torque advantage and massive reserves of low-rpm thrust. Its 4,8-second 0-100km/h sprint is also 0,7s ahead of the Jag so it is a straight-line winner, while it is all backed up by a booming exhaust soundtrack plus an intelligent eight-speed auto that is fast shifting than that of the Jag.

Jaguar went for a supercharger instead of a turbo to augment the F-Pace’s 3-litre V6. This resulted in an engine with a very different feel to the BMW. It is ultra-responsive with a wonderfully linear power delivery, while the exhaust note has a sports-car raspiness sound to it that’s more musical than the BMW’s tone.

The Jaguar F-Pace S is a stunning machine to feast your eyes on, and, subsequently, much nicer to look at than the BMW. A similar thing can be said about the interior, too.
And if you get the colour and wheel options right, you could say the F-Pace is the “coolest” SUV in the class. The F-Pace wins on charisma, expressions and defining luxury
As a sporty variant of something that is already one of the most practical propositions in the class, the BMW X3 M40i is hard to beat. The firm suspension means it handles like a bona fide sports SUV. It gives you a feel of it hugging the road. It is lively on corners and has better sangfroid around bends. Value for money is also better on the German than the Briton. Pair that with the sensual inline six engine that offers incredible acceleration, and you are left with a very enjoyable and desirable performance SUV. One is tempted to hand the crown to the X3 in this squabble.

andrew@muzamhindo.com

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