Not long ago, Jaguar had much of the automotive industry (myself included) convinced that it was headed for the edge of a cliff. By the early 2000s, the UK automaker’s sensual designs had faded beneath Ford’s crippling profit demands. Ironically, the quest for ROI had dried up Jaguar’s key differentiation, and with it, sales.
Ford’s ownership wasn’t all bad, though. The American manufacturer united the Jaguar Cars and Land Rover brands into a single company, packaging it up neatly for what would be the next owner: Tata Motors. In 2008, the Indian automotive group rescued Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and set in motion a plan of intense future product investment.
In the several years since, Jaguar has been mounting an assault on the luxury car market. Sure, the F-Type has been an incredible success, but sports cars have always been a low volume play. With the revitalization of the XF and introduction of the XE compact sport sedan, things are getting serious. But all plays up to this point will pale in comparison to the significance of the F-Pace crossover.
Though Jaguar is late to the crossover party, the growth in consumer appetites for more premium variants is perfectly timed with the F-Pace’s introduction. And though there are plenty of options, the Jag’s competitive set lacks a sense of aesthetic intrigue.
Taking full responsibility for the blasphemy of my words, I consider the F-Pace to be Jaguar’s most attractive model. Yes, the F-Type is beautiful in sight and sound, but there’s something to the F-Pace’s proportions that work Ian Callum’s design language even better.
Slender headlights and taillights, large air intakes, a high beltline, short overhangs, and wide flanks give the F-Pace presence. As one of 275 US-bound First Edition models, my tester is equipped with 22-inch dark 10-spoke wheels and red brake calipers that only amplify the crossover’s confident exterior. With few F-Pace examples in customer’s hands, the Rhodium Silver figure gets more attention on the road than most sports cars.
The F-Pace crossover utilizes a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 to deliver two stages of tune. The entry-spec model makes do with a stout 340hp and 318 lb-ft of torque while the S variant churns up 380hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Whether you demand additional grunt or not, every F-Pace is paired with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.
Underpinning the F-Pace is the same aluminum-infused chassis as the XE and XF sport sedans, meaning the crossover weighs a respectable 4,100 lbs. Built upon that platform is an all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring. Each First Edition example mates the most available power with Jaguar’s optional all-wheel drive system for optimal performance.
While the F-Pace’s 5.1-second sprint to 60 mph isn’t the fastest in its segment (that title goes to the Porsche Macan and its 4.9-second romp), it’s more than enough pep to scoot past suburbia’s finest. Choosing the Adaptive Dynamics package ($1000 on lesser F-Pace models) introduces the Dynamic drive mode to the standard Normal, Eco, and All-Weather modes. Adaptive Bilstein dampers strike a balance between taut tuning and supple ride quality and transform the F-Pace’s character at a moment’s notice.
Despite a modicum of body roll, the F-Pace hugs corners with ease and feels far more capable than its stability control system would have you believe. Steering feel is predictably muted, but the electronic rack communicates instantly with the front tires in a display of surprising eagerness. Jaguar includes a set of steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual shifting, but ZF’s transmission tuning is so adept, I prefer leaving that responsibility to automation.
Aided by a set of sticky Pirelli tires, the luxury crossover is at home on a technical road, alluding to its potential for SVO’s performance enhancement.
The Great Escape
A refined, high-quality cabin matches the F-Pace’s elegant exterior. Artistic touches like a steeply swooping door panel, slender console borders, and a raising/lowering gear selector knob stand out among more traditional luxury cues like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dashboard, piano black trim, and aluminum accents.
The First Edition F-Pace tallies up every optional extra on lower-spec variants to provide a buffet of creature comforts. Alcantara headliner, 10-way heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, ambient lighting, head-up display, surround-view camera system, 825-watt Meridian sound system, panoramic sunroof, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, 4-zone climate control, WiFi hotspot, automatic liftgate, and a 10-inch InControl infotainment system, are all standard goodies.
There may be luxury vehicles on the market with more available convenience features, but chances are, they’re gimmicky (I’m looking at you, BMW 7 Series gesture control).
Head and legroom in the F-Pace are astoundingly good for such a steeply raked shape. Behind my 6-foot driving position, I had three inches of knee room in the rear seats and generous headroom. As with other slope-flanked crossovers, trunk height could be an issue from hauling big items, but width and length are plentiful.
Though the F-Pace errs on the sporting side, the seats are molded for comfort more than lateral maneuvers. Passengers won’t flop beyond the side bolsters, nor will their backs ache after hours of driving. The First Edition’s unique door trim and embossed seat designs (which feature overlaid stars) may not gel with my personal tastes, but the abounding cabin richness far outweighs minor stylistic oddities.
Nearly $30K separates the entry-level F-Pace from its $69,700 First Edition range-topper, but this vast margin should be welcome news to those that shop for compact luxury crossovers. At $42,390, the base model includes all-wheel drive and the supercharged-six but skips some of F-Pace’s best features. If you can do without the additional 40hp, the Premium trim level bundles most of the First Edition’s highlights for a very reasonable $50,100.
The F-Pace’s closest competitors, which include BMW’s X3, Audi’s Q5, Mercedes-Benz’s GLC, and Porsche’s Macan are fine alternatives, but none as well-rounded as the Jaguar. Striking good looks, an elegant interior, superb driving dynamics, and attractive pricing pushes the F-Pace to the front of the pack.
3.0L Supercharged V6
380hp/332 lb-ft of torque
8-speed ZF automatic
0-60 in 5.1 seconds
top speed 155mph
$69,700 ($995 destination fee), S starts at $56,700, Regular $40,990
First Edition only 275 sold in the U.S., 22-inch double-helix 15-spoke aluminum wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires, head-up display, Automatic parking, adaptive cruise, leather seating, Wi-Fi hotspot, heated rear seats, rear A/C, and auto liftgate, panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, Rhodium Silver Metallic paint,
BMW X3 xDrive35i, Porsche Macan S, Mercedes-AMG GLC43
For more information, options, and pricing, please visit our 2017 Jaguar F-Pace page on AutoWeb’s search and configure site.
Photo Credit: © Miles Branman