Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
If anybody needs a road map of how to reinvent a car company, look no further than the example set by Tata. Since taking ownership of Jaguar, or depending on your point of view, rescuing it from Ford in 2008, Tata has overseen the marque from Coventry sharpen its claws and rise again.
Jaguar as a brand has undergone a significant change. In one of those, you need to spend it to make it situations, investment from head office has allowed Jaguar’s talented engineers and designers to do what they do best – make quality cars that bring performance and desirability to rival those of Germany’s big three.
Along with the F-TYPE and XE, the new regime has overseen the development of Jaguar’s first SUV, the F-PACE. A model that has received much praise in a short amount of time. Production only began in 2016, the F-Pace is as fresh as it gets.
So why is there a need for Jaguar to build an SUV when its bread and butter is in sporty sedans and desirable performance cars? Quite frankly, the market is to blame. The insatiable appetite for SUVs, especially in the premium segment, has left Jaguar with no choice if it wants to remain relevant and competitive.
So the market has brought us to this, the 2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport 30d, one could easily argue this is one of the most desirable points in the range, if not the most sensible. Before ticking any boxes on Jaguar’s extensive options list, an R-Sport 30d will set you back $90,304 plus on-roads. It’s a significant spend, however, it is very competitive when lined up against the competing models from other premium manufacturers.
Firstly, we’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as such, it’s subjective. In this case, we happen to agree with the judging panel at the recent 2017 World Car Awards, where the F-PACE won two awards, including World Car Design of the Year.
The F-PACE is a great looking car. With Ian Callum as Jaguar’s Director of Design, the F-PACE was always going to be a looker. Callum is royalty in the world of car design. He’s a man with a rather extensive résumé and a back catalogue of greatest hits to rival the best in his profession.
Probably the best aspect of the car’s design is that it looks like a Jaguar, the F-PACE slots into the current range by utilising the brand’s existing design language. The F-PACE doesn’t carry the usually SUV proportions, it’s a sharp and sleek exterior that offers a muscular silhouette without going overboard.
The interior is also not what you would find in the traditional SUV. The driver and passengers sit in the car, removing the feeling of sitting on top of it. The seating position is similar to what you would expect from a sedan, with the high centre stack and high-rising door cards you feel the F-PACE has wrapped itself around you. It’s a sporty seating position that suits the car.
The cabin layout is very similar to the XE sedan. Material choice is a mixed bag, the Taurus leather sport seats are nice to touch. The plastics are soft touch, but not the best available.
One of the interior’s highlights is the R-Sport multi-function steering wheel, it’s wrapped in lovely softgrain leather, with a foam material underneath, running your hands over it is a wonderful tactile experience.
Rear leg room is satisfactory but not as good as it could be in a car of this size. The F-PACE is on a generous wheelbase, yet it struggles to match the rear seat room found in some mid-size SUVs, making rear packaging an area for future improvement.
Our test F-PACE included the standard InControl Touch system with an 8-inch screen. The more we use this system, the more we like it. It also incorporates the Meridian 11-speaker sound system. After experiencing the Pro offering in the XE, we didn’t expect too much, however, in base form, it will do everything you need. The InControl system does provide quick changes between functions and sound quality is good. Lovers of the latest and greatest technology will most likely fancy the optional Pro infotainment unit which brings a 10.2-inch touch-screen and a 12.3-inch HD virtual instrument display.
On the road, the F-PACE continues to break away from the traditional SUV conventions. It’s a car for the drivers. Under the bonnet sits a 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine, capable of delivering 221kW of power and a whopping 700Nm of torque.
Power is sent to all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic. ZF have a proven track record of producing transmissions that offer smooth, precise and quick shifts. They are true to form in this case. With the transmission quality on offer here, it makes us wonder what the future holds for dual-clutch and CVT options.
Over the initial stages of this test, it was hard to ignore the amount of torque on tap. With 700Nm available at just 2000rpm, the F-PACE 30d is quick. It feels far quicker to 100km/h than the official 6.2 seconds. The throttle response is excellent and there’s no lag to speak of.
It’s not just Jaguar’s designers that have set the bar high, the chassis engineers have also done their work to deliver a genuinely sharp handling SUV. Built on Jaguar’s Lightweight Aluminium Architecture with a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the F-PACE possesses a dynamic ability that puts it at the pointy end of the premium SUV segment. The steering is direct and the body stays taut when enjoying the corners. The F-PACE really needs the right road to exploit all of its talents.
Depending on the quality of the road surface, the suspension setup can be a little on the firm side, no doubt this is exacerbated by the 20-inch wheels. The upside of this is the huge amount of grip available, the F-PACE is very surefooted.  
When it does come time to relax, the F-PACE is very refined. It’s a comfortable car to cover large sections of highway. The cabin is well insulated and noise, vibration and harshness don’t disturb my podcast.
Modern Jaguars offer innovation and thinking that’s a little bit different. Nothing demonstrates this more than the Leisure Activity Key. Essentially, it’s a waterproof and shockproof wristband that allows the car to be closed and reopened while the key remains inside. A clever accessory for those who lead active lifestyles.
As a model marketed towards families, it's pleasing to report, the F-PACE is packed with safety equipment. Emergency brake assist, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, rearview camera, ISOFIX points and a full house of airbags are all standard.
Torque Vectoring - a technology that improves both handling and safety - can apply gentle braking force to the inner wheels to alleviate understeer when cornering. This essentially assists the driver to maintain the ideal line when turning.
While the F-PACE has plenty of safety credentials, to date, it hasn’t been subjected to testing by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Over our week of testing, we were fortunate to cover more than 900km of town and highway driving, this included an agonising Easter Monday airport run to Tullamarine. The overall consumption figure returned for the week was an excellent 6.9L/100km, a strong, real-world result when compared to the official combined consumption figure of 6.0-litres of diesel for every 100km of travel.
In terms of the ownership credentials of the F-PACE, Jaguar supports its first SUV with a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Although this level of coverage is standard fare for premium brands, a three-year offering looks out of place in 2017, another two years would be a welcome addition to the package.
Jaguar does make up some ground when it comes to maintenance. Service intervals are set at a convenient 12 months or 26,000km, whatever comes first. Jaguar does not offer capped price servicing, however, a service plan is available for $1750. This covers the first five years or 130,000km. It averages out to a very sharp $350 for each return to the dealership over that time. It’s great value, not just in the premium segment and it’s well worth ticking this box when purchasing.
So there you have it, Jaguar’s first SUV is not just here for novelty value, it means business and provides an alternative to the now over-represented German brands. Speaking of firsts, for many buyers the F-PACE will be their first Jaguar, their first interaction with the brand and its 83-year history. Jaguar has got the balance right with the F-PACE. It offers the performance, handling and styling to satisfy the faithful, while also opening the door to newcomers to the brand. So the F-PACE is a story of firsts for Jaguar and it’s buyers, for those who take the plunge, they won't be disappointed and it’s very unlikely to be their last.
2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport 30d Specifications
Price from $90,304, plus on-road costs Engine 3.0L V6 Turbocharged Diesel Power 221kW @ 4000 rpm Torque 700Nm @ 2000 rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 6.0L/100km Tank Capacity 66L Performance 0-100km 6.2 seconds Length 4731mm Width 2175mm Height 1667mm Wheelbase 2874mm Weight from 1884kg Turning circle 11.87m Service Intervals 12-months or 26,000km Warranty three year/unlimited kilometre
Options fitted to test car
Practicality Pack (Rear seat remote release levers, Gesture Tailgate, Loadspace safety partition net, Lockable cooled glovebox and Air Quality Sensor and Jaguar Smart     Key System with Keyless Entry) - $3660
Advanced parking pack with Surround Camera (Surround Camera System, Park Assist and 360° Park Distance Control) - $3450
Sliding Panoramic Roof - $4200
20” Matrix Twin 10 spoke alloy wheels - $1700
Leisure Activity Key - $640
Let’s start a Car Conversation, is the Jaguar F-PACE a strong enough offering to take sales from the popular premium SUVs like the BMW X5? Do you agree Jaguar’s first SUV remains true to the brand’s heritage?