As good as it gets
2017 Jaguar F-PACE brings serious fun to affluent crossovers
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.