2017 Jaguar F Pace 35t R-Sport
Late to the SUV party, maybe, but it still makes quite an entrance.
It sure is easy on the eyes…
Jaguar has had a few missteps in its long history (mostly of the reliability persuasion, thankfully a thing of the past nowadays) but building ugly cars hasn’t been one of them. The F Pace follows that tradition by wearing the current design language rather well- it translates pleasingly onto the proportions mandated by an SUV. You may think of it as an F Type in hiking attire, if you like. The taillights are instantly familiar as what you’ll find on the sports car’s rear end, and the front visage with its prominent mesh grille and embellishments are taken from the XF to good effect. It is certainly a handsome conveyance, and it’s one of those cars where we’re constantly cleaning fingerprints and nose smudges off the windows and sinuous body work when we arrive back to where we parked it.
Have they installed one of their ballistic V8’s in the engine bay?
Not at this point, although don’t be surprised if that becomes a reality as the story of the F Pace’s first generation continues to be written. Not that the F Pace is lacking in motivation- you get the same 3.0 supercharged V6 that we experienced in the XF recently. It shoves the SUV around with convincing authority, and makes a delightfully snarly noise with accompanying supercharger whine while it goes about its business. It’s not the same malevolent sound that stablemate F Type makes, but anything approaching that would be to obtrusive for the families who will ultimately put these in their driveways. Our tester was the R-Sport model which meant that the V6 made 340 horsepower, down on power from the full-fat 380 horse version found in the top rung S model. There’s a $7,000 gulf between the two, and the only difference where the engines are concerned is a slight variance in the ECU programming which nets the extra 40 horsepower. Please Jaguar- could you find in your heart to give all F Paces the stronger engine and simplify the trim levels? That would easily pave the way for one of your charismatic V8s to find their way underhood sometime in the future. For those who covet fuel economy over outright speed, Jaguar will offer a 2.0 litre turbodiesel which may be down on horsepower from its gasoline brethren but churns out almost as much torque. What that means is in the real world, it is not that much slower and will return much better fuel economy figures. With the demise of Audi’s Q5, the F Pace will have a good portion of the market there for the taking- only BMW’s X3 can be equipped with an oil burner.
How does it drive?
The F Pace is a feast of dynamic delights- feelsome and accurate steering, brakes that are up to the challenge and a suspension system that leans towards the firm side of the spectrum, but not overly so. In fact, the ride motions are nicely clipped and it won’t crash over bumps the way we’ve seen from other stiffly sprung SUV’s with monster wheels and tires. If the standard drive mode isn’t engaging enough for you, select Dynamic mode on the console. It firms up the steering and the suspension in concert, but you’ll prefer doing this when you’re out traversing smooth roads- it makes the F Pace feel a but nervous when you’re driving throughout the city. Grab a shift paddle and marvel at the keen response and rev matched downshifts, courtesy of Jag’s ubiquitously excellent 8-speed automatic. There’s an Eco mode too, but it feels like it hobbles the F Pace too much so we really didn’t bother with it. Suffice it to say they’ve managed to make an SUV drive much like its sedan counterparts which is a huge challenge. Well done, Jaguar.
What’s it like inside?
Like their aversion to building ugly cars, Jaguar has always crafted interiors that impress. They have tried to distance themselves from the traditional cockpits of rich wood, heady leather and thick carpeting while chasing the “this isn’t your grandfathers Jag” ethos of luring new and younger buyers into the fold. It’s very well finished and everything feels quality and substantial, but we can’t help but wish for a little dash of what made the old Vanden Plas cars of the late 1990’s feel so special. It’s just a bit too austere, although contrasting white stitching does perk things up a bit. It is as good or better than the other offerings at this price point, and Jaguar can lavish some embellishments here and there as they see fit. It struck us as remarkable how roomy it is for rear seat passengers with an equally impressive amount of headroom, even for tall folks. The massive panoramic sunroof doesn’t make things cramped the way we’ve seen with so many SUVs offering the same thing. There’s decent space in the cargo hold too, which imbues the F Pace with the rare trait of being a luxuriously sporty SUV that hasn’t forgotten it’s supposed to be practical too.
What might go wrong?
As of this writing, the F Pace has become the bestselling product in the Jaguar lineup. Judging by all the folks who drive its competition coming up to have a closer look ask questions with us during our Road Test, we expect that trend to continue. As a first effort into the compact luxury SUV foray Jaguar has done a solid job. There are some issues- the stop/start system kills and reignites the engine with an awkward hiccup at traffic lights, the InControl infotainment system suffers somewhat from less than snappy responses and while we appreciate a sharper feeling throttle, it becomes a little too jumpy in Dynamic mode. Sure it might be a little late to the compact luxury SUV party, but it’s certainly made one heck of an entrance.
2017 Jaguar F Pace 35t R-Sport- Specifications
- Price as tested: $69,325
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 340 @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 332 @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,821 kg (4,014 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 13.2L/100km (18 mpg)