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At the present time in the global motoring landscape, Jaguar is a brand that is asking questions, not just delivering answers. It could be said the brand is currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts, but in reality, it goes well beyond that.
Jaguar now finds itself writing a new chapter in its colourful and at times, troubled history. Desirability has found its way back to the brand. Through contemporary design and innovation in the form of new engine technology, Jaguar has produced an impressive, yet appropriately sized portfolio.
Jaguar can now go toe to toe with the giants from Germany and do better than just hold its own. The cars in Jaguar’s fleet are now strong enough to get buyers to question what the best choices in the premium segments really are.
Nothing proves these points more than the F-PACE. Jaguar’s first SUV represents all the things the brand is getting right. The F-PACE offers the premium experience in more ways than one.
On test here is what we think is the sweet spot in the F-PACE range, the 20d in R-Sport specification. It will set you back $80,044 plus on-road costs. That price is likely to climb, as with all the premium manufacturers, you're very unlikely to get an order in without ticking a few boxes on the options list.
The exterior design has got to be a ‘hall of famer’ from Ian Callum. It’s a captivating design that gets the emotional details right. From every angle, there are lots of lines and curves purposefully placed to elicit an emotional response. I was once told, the secret to a beautiful watch design was one that kept the owner looking at it long after they had the time. This sums up the F-PACE, it’s hard not to stare at it long after the need to do so has ended. This is what differentiates that F-PACE from its rivals.
Italian Racing Red is the colour that sets the F-PACE on fire. In a car that already has so many of the emotional details, the red paint is the cherry on top. It’s remarkable how striking the car is in the right hue. I was devastated to see the colour removed from the 2018 model year spec list, however, some research has shown me the new offering, Firenze Red, shares the same colour code.
What Jaguar has done, either in a moment of madness or clarity, is land the F-PACE in between the size categories of other premium SUV makers. In terms of size, comparisons with models from Mercedes and BMW are not overly helpful, the GLC and X3 are both smaller, while the GLE and X5 are larger. That puts the F-PACE into just right territory, without a direct rival.
Keeping the proportions just right translates to an excellent driving experience. The F-PACE is a sharp handler that regularly asks the driver for more. This is evident when cornering, the grip is superb and body roll is minimal. The overall body control of the F-PACE is far tighter than what most of its competitors deliver.
From behind the wheel, in no way does the F-PACE feel like anything that resembles a family car. The electric steering is well weighted and sharp, the F-PACE shakes off traditional SUV handling.
The engine is a ripper, the 2.0L Ingenium diesel is refined and strikes a great balance between performance and economy. In our test car, the engine develops 132kW/430Nm. There is plenty of low down clout to get the F-PACE promptly off the line.
There’s also a versatile nature to the F-PACE, it’s comfortable as a daily driver and a very capable long distance cruiser.
Blending sporty handling with comfort is never as easy as it may sound. Even on large wheels, the F-PACE does manage to get the mix right.
In the 20d F-PACE, Jaguar stick with a ZF 8-speed transmission, it’s a different unit to the one in the six-cylinder models. The four-cylinder gets a smaller and lighter unit. The difference is negligible, both units offer quality shifting.
Jaguar utilises a torque on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD) system in the F-PACE. It’s a system with a rear-drive bias. Essentially, all the torque is sent to the rear until more traction is needed. Jaguar’s Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) determines when and how much torque should be sent to the front axle depending on the driving conditions. It’s a responsive system that will keep you going on a slippery track.
After covering 1,350km of city and country driving in the F-PACE, the consumption figure came in at 6.5L/100km. A very impressive result, even though it’s above the claimed 5.3L/100km figure.
After spending a week with the 20d it would be difficult to recommend the six-cylinder engine. It’s hard to justify the difference in cost to gain the extra kilowatts.
So the four-cylinder F-PACE looks great, drives well and is fuel efficient, but, being an SUV it also needs to bring some practicality to the table.
For family duties, the F-PACE does offer space and practicality. It’s roomy enough to carry four reasonably sized adults. Comfort in the front and back is above average. Our tester came equipped with two rear USB ports and a 12V socket, all manufacturers should now consider this the bare minimum.
In the R-Sport trim level, the cabin is a nice place to enjoy a drive. It’s a modern looking layout with clear and easy to use controls.
Some of the interior materials used in the F-PACE don’t feel as nice as they look. There are some harder plastics that lack the premium feel buyers in this class may expect. A notable exception is the lovely soft leather R-Sport steering wheel, it’s great to hold and screams first-class.
The InControl Touch infotainment system again proved itself to be a responsive and easy to use platform. The system features an 8-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation. The quick access keys that sit either side of the screen have a really well-made feel to them.
Connecting phones and streaming music are extremely simple tasks that don’t require much effort.
Apple Carplay would complement the infotainment package and will soon be seen as an essential part of any comprehensive infotainment system if it’s not already. Being such a connected society, smartphone mirroring software should be considered a safety feature, not just one of convenience or luxury. I remember feeling the same way about Bluetooth when it first arrived in cars to the backdrop of booming mobile phone sales.
A lengthy options list awaits F-PACE buyers. Just ticking a few boxes to add to the luxury atmosphere can quickly pump the price up. No brainers like a panoramic roof, heated seats and metallic paint will have you reaching for the calculator app.
It’s annoying when manufacturers limit the best safety kit to range-topping models, so it’s somewhat commendable Jaguar does allow buyers to option all the available safety gear regardless of the F-PACE variant they choose. However, the F-PACE is missing some safety kit that is standard fare on cars that cost considerably less. Things like lane keep assist, blind spot monitor and head up display really should be standard inclusions on a premium family car at this price point.
Maintenance costs are often an impediment to purchasing a premium car. There is still a perception premium cars are expensive to service. The F-PACE is affordable to maintain if you opt to take the service plan. $1,100 will cover servicing for five-years/100,000km.
Another benefit of the Ingenium diesel engine technology is long service intervals. The F-PACE is only required to visit the workshop every two years or 34,000km – remarkable.
For what is effectively still a fresh model, the three year/unlimited kilometre warranty lets the team down. It should move to a sensible five-year offering.
The Jaguar F-PACE is a versatile SUV, it blends style, performance, handling, refinement and economy in a family friendly package. The R-Sport 20d, if properly optioned, is the SUV to have. The options list is extensive and can add a significant number to the overall price. Some boxes are worth ticking in order to deliver the premium Jaguar experience. In saying that, even without all the trimmings, it’s a compelling offering and importantly, a wonderful car to drive.
2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport 20d Specifications
Price from $80,044, plus on-road costs Engine 2.0L 4-cylininder Ingenium turbocharged diesel Power 132kW @ 4,000rpm Torque 430Nm @ 1,750 - 2,500rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 5.3L/100km Tank Capacity 60L Performance 0-100km 8.7 seconds Length 4731mm Width 2175mm Height 1667mm Wheelbase 2874mm Ground Clearance 213mm Weight from 1775kg Turning circle 11.59m Service Intervals 24-months or 34,000km Warranty three year/unlimited kilometre
Let’s start a Car Conversation, what do you think of the design of the F-PACE? How about the size, should Jaguar have made their first SUV large enough to be a direct rival to the BMW X5 or Audi Q7?