As good as it gets

2017 Jaguar F-PACE brings se­ri­ous fun to af­flu­ent crossovers

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - AUTOMOTIVE - By David Sch­midt If you have any ques­tions, com­ments or ideas, please send them to com­ment@ Au­toWrit­er­sInk.com.

Jaguar’s F-PACE is a mid­sized cross­over that fo­cuses on style and per­for­mance and does a good job with each.

This is a quick car, one whose ride and per­for­mance be­lies its looks. It’s al­most a “tall” tour­ing car, as it has little in com­mon with the driv­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of most mid-sized cross­over utes.

The F-PACE is plea­sur­able to drive, easy to push hard on Satur­day-morn­ing through-the-woods runs on de­cent, twisty roads. It is also a good car in sub­ur­ban traf­fic, it will get go­ing and get out of the way quickly. All the while it will be­have it­self with a great deal of com­fort, al­though the en­gine ex­haust note will con­stantly, but sub­tly, re­mind you that a cat lurks be­low, ready to leap.

The sus­pen­sion is taut, with­out be­ing hard. It is also alu­minum, with the front be­ing a dou­ble-wish­bone setup and an In­te­gral Link rear sus­pen­sion. Elec­tric power steer­ing al­lows vari­able steer­ing ra­tios – which is stan­dard.

The big – up to 22-in. – wheels shod with per­for­mance-ori­ented tires, trans­mit a de­cent amount of feed­back to the steer­ing wheel, and the brakes do a great job of clamp­ing down on the speed while leav­ing plenty of space for driver’s brake-pedal in­put, un­like the “on-or-off” feel­ing of some cross­over utes.

More tech­ni­cally in­trigu­ing is Jaguar’s Torque Vec­tor­ing by Brak­ing. It ap­plies brak­ing to the in­side wheels, help­ing the car ro­tate in hard cor­ner­ing when the car might oth­er­wise “plow” for­ward, not want­ing to turn. It’s some­thing that makes the car safer and quicker through a cor­ner.

The most ef­fi­cient ver­sion of the F-PACE, pow­ered by a 2.0-liter diesel en­gine, pro­duc­ing a 180-hp. and 317 lb.-ft. of peak torque from four cylin­ders. The EPA rates its ef­fi­ciency at 26mpg city and 33-mpg high­way. This en­gine pow­ers the least ex­pen­sive of the F-PACE mod­els, al­though the en­gine is avail­able on all trim lev­els ex­cept the hotrod F-PACE S.

Two ver­sions of Jaguar’s 3.0-liter gaso­line V-6 en­gine are avail­able, start­ing with 340-hp. ver­sion but there is a 380-hp. in the F-PACE S model. A 247-hp. tur­bocharged 2.0-liter-cylin­der en­gine is go­ing to be avail­able on the 2018 model. This marks the first time a gaso­line four-cylin­der will be avail­able for the FPACE.

The car I tested fea­tured the su­per­charged 3.0-liter V-6 churn­ing out 380-hp. and 332 lb.-ft. of peak torque. This power purrs through an eight-speed ZF trans­mis­sion to all four wheels, thanks to a torque-on-de­mand all-wheel drive sys­tem. It’s fuel ef­fi­ciency rat­ing is 18-mpg city and 23-mpg on the high­way

Nor­mally all the power goes to the rear. When needed, power will also go to the front wheels. Us­ing a com­pact trans­fer case. The all-wheel drive sys­tem is in­cred­i­bly quick and will move half the power for­ward in a split sec­ond.

Great as the me­chan­i­cals are, what’s re­ally im­por­tant is the ve­hi­cles emo­tional con­tent, and the F-PACE has it in spades. The styling is dis­tinc­tive, the kind of look that makes it easy to find in a crowded park­ing lot, and eas­ier yet to get a warm feel­ing of pride and plea­sure when you spy it.

There is a clearly ma­cho and clearly Jaguar front face, thanks to its upright and clas­sic grille. From the side, the F-Pace gives the im­pres­sion of be­ing ready to spring, thanks to the pow­er­ful rear quar­ter panel de­sign. While it is an of­fer­ing from the af­flu­ent-mom seg­ment of crossovers, it very well may look too, well, in­de­pen­dent and ag­gres­sive. But it is still a prac­ti­cal, ca­pa­ble fam­ily-sized ve­hi­cle.

In lux­ury ve­hi­cles, the in­te­rior is what re­ally counts. It must be beau­ti­ful, feel good to touch and use, make oc­cu­pants feel both safe and spe­cial and have all the toys. The F-PACE fills that bill, seem­ing to be quite un­der­stated about all of its fea­tures as you might ex­pect from a brand that has only pro­duced fast and lux­u­ri­ous ve­hi­cles in its his­tory.

With typ­i­cal Bri­tish aplomb, the style and fix­tures are both mod­ern and just a bit un­der­stated. Some aren’t all that un­der­stated, such as the $400 op­tional wrist­band. This al­lows those who take their car some­where to do some­thing phys­i­cal to con­trol ac­cess with­out car­ry­ing keys. Clever, that.

I liked the leather sports seats. They keep peo­ple in place dur­ing spir­ited driv­ing. More than that, they are quite com­fort­able: per­haps a bit of Goldilocks, not too soft and not too hard. They are also very ad­justable, heated and cooled. As you would ex­pect, what you see is what it is, no plas­tic mas­querad­ing as wood or metal.

The in­stru­ment panel is clas­si­cally Jaguar, with two hooded di­als or bet­ter yet is the cut­ting edge 12.3-in. vir­tual in­stru­ment clus­ter. It’s cus­tom­iz­a­ble and presents the car’s full-screen nav­i­ga­tion right in front of you. It is part of Jaguar’s InCon­trol Touch Pro in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

This uses a 10.2-in. touch­screen and the a vir­tual 12.3-in. in­stru­ment clus­ter with fullscreen nav­i­ga­tion dis­play but adds a heads-up dis­play. You can even get a Wi-Fi hub that can host as many as eight de­vices. This is sim­ply a com­fort­able cabin that of­fers ev­ery fea­ture it should and then some. The same holds true with safety and driv­ing as­sists. Just as­sume they are avail­able or al­ready on this Jaguar.

The range of F-PACE mod­els is fairly broad. It con­sists of: FPACE, F-PACE Pre­mium, F-PACE Pres­tige, F-PACE R-Sport, FPACE S and F-PACE First Edition. The pow­er­train range in­clude the diesel – the “20d” -- as well as 340hp. and 380hp. 3.0-liter V-6 gas vari­ants (35t and S, re­spec­tively). Based on the en­gines, the prices start at $41,900 to $57,700 for the F-PACE S, and run to the $78,351with ev­ery box checked.

While fam­ily trans­porta­tion is the fo­cus this hugely suc­cess­ful seg­ment, and most of the miles on them are by mom do­ing her duty, this is one model which will bring joy to those who ac­tu­ally en­joy driv­ing.

There is a clearly ma­cho and clearly Jaguar front face, thanks to its upright and clas­sic grille. From the side, the F-Pace gives the im­pres­sion of be­ing ready to spring, thanks to the pow­er­ful rear quar­ter panel de­sign.

In lux­ury ve­hi­cles, the in­te­rior is what re­ally counts. It must be beau­ti­ful, feel good to touch and use, make oc­cu­pants feel both safe and spe­cial and have all the toys.

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