On the off chance that the F-Pace showed one thing over a week and a few hundred miles it’s this: long gone is the hybrid trade off.
Around 20 years back, Mercedes-Benz did the incomprehensible and manufactured the auto based M-Class SUV. It didn’t bring about much mix at the time other than the abhor of Benz brand idealists who just needed the organization to manufacture vehicles, cars, roadsters and the intermittent G-Wagen. Be that as it may, for reasons unknown, the M-Class is a standout amongst the most critical vehicles of the advanced age.
All alone, the M-Class (now the GLE-Class) did bounty to move the needle, yet it was the entry of the Lexus RX, BMW X5, Acura MDX and inevitably the Audi Q7 throughout the following 8 years or so tat began the development. Hell, even Porsche got into the amusement with the Cayenne in 2003. See where I’m running with this?
Today, the moderate size hybrid market is a standout amongst the most well known and jammed portions in the realm of extravagance vehicles – Lexus offers significantly more RXs than whatever else – and if an automaker doesn’t have an offering for SUV-crazed shoppers, it could likely be a demise toll.
Sports vehicles and cars these behemoths are not… however with its first SUV ever, Jaguar is out to at long last demonstrate generally. However, are great looks and extraordinary execution enough to compensate for a long time of lost deals potential? Turns out they could conceivably be.
Design: 8.0 Rating
Many a casual consumer complain to me that “all cars are starting to look the same.” While it’s quite literally my job to be able to tell the difference. Try telling the difference between the Audi A4 and A6 at a quick glance, or better yet, the Jaguar XE and XF. It’s nigh impossible, even for the trained eye.
But in the case of a big, hulking SUV, looking like a sleek sedan or even a sports car can end up working very, very well. Case in point: the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace.
With the company’s now-ubiquitous front end, the F-Pace actually somewhat resembles a Jaguar, scowling with ravenous intent at its prey from the shadows. The big, rounded-off grille cuts a distinct signature, and the “J-blade” LED headlights are unique enough to be recognized in the dark but not gaudy enough to make you cringe. Out back, by seemingly lifting the taillights straight from the F-Type Coupe and Roadster, Jaguar has given the F-Pace a taut, athletic rear, lifted just high enough off the ground to make the whole SUV look like it’s lunging forward even at a full stop. The profile is clean and sleek, too, with a sloped roofline almost reminiscent of the BMW X6 or Mercedes GLE-Class Coupe rather than a traditional SUV.
This is the type of design that will look good in 10 years’ time: svelte enough to turn some heads, but reserved enough to risk being a one-hit wonder.
For as pretty as it is outside though, the F-Pace is boring within. Straight lines and conservative design features weave a functional – well, not entirely, but more on that later – cabin layout that has about as much character as stale crumpets. It’s not bad-looking, for sure, but such a curb-appealing SUV deserves an equally impressive interior, and this Jag just doesn’t cut it.
Comfort: 9.0 Rating
In terms of size, the F-Pace slots somewhere in between compact and mid-size luxury crossovers, but think of it as a midsize without a third row rather than a large compact.
For as un-inspiring as this Jag’s cockpit is, it’s thankfully plenty comfortable, with supportive, plush seats that are adjustable in a myriad of ways and rear legroom to compete with some of the best in the midsize segment. Headroom is adequate too at 37.8 inches in the front and 37.5 in the rear, so despite the sloping roofline, even taller passengers will find themselves comfortable enough.
Front seats come ventilated and heated as well as heat in the rear with the $1,800 comfort and convenience package, and the rear seats electronically recline, though not quite enough to really feel the difference.
Controls: 6.0 Rating
One benefit of Jaguar’s heavily-reserved interior design is its commitment to function over form – or rather, it really should be a benefit. In practice, the F-Pace is somewhat harder to operate than it seems, with little ergonomic oversights like placing the start/stop button where the volume knob should be and moving volume control towards the passenger for the sake of symmetry.
Climate controls are smartly laid out in two parallel lines, but one button with a seat icon forces you to go into the infotainment system to set whether you want your seat to be hot or cold and to what degree, and defaults to turning the heat all the way up, forcing you to fiddle around on the touch screen for several seconds just to get the seat to blow cold air.
The ergonomics of the new 10.2-inch infotainment system aren’t flawless either, but more on that later.
Utility: 7.5 Rating
If you’re cross-shopping the F-Pace with the likes of the Porsche Macan or Audi SQ5 – even the BMW X5, for that matter – you may be surprised to find that the slinky Jag actually packs more cargo room behind the rear seats than all three. With 33.5 cubic feet of volume, the F-Pace can accommodate more than you might think possible, including two full-size suitcases side-to-side.
It also boasts a maximum towing capacity of almost 5,300 pounds with the supercharged V-6, which isn’t nearly enough to take the fight to any of the full-size pickups, but for towing a small boat or camper that should be more than enough capacity.
Where the F-Pace lacks, however, is in interior storage space, mainly in the front cabin. There are the standard door pockets that can hold a decent amount of knickknacks, but other than a few small shelves on the side of the center console, there’s hardly any storage space to speak of.
A large part of this is the massive amount of real estate the housing for the rotator dial gear selector takes up. Electronic gear selectors are meant to save space, so why does the piano black slab around the dial take up so much? It could be used to have storage shelves or cubbies but instead, it’s wasted space.
Technology: 8.5 Rating
At a base level, the F-Pace doesn’t have much to speak of in terms of technology and convenience features. Every F-Pace comes standard with a touchscreen infotainment system, but running on Jaguar’s last-generation processor and hardware, it’s slow and finicky to use. The infotainment system you want is the optional 10.2-inch InControl touchscreen, with a faster processor and snappy, pleasing graphics.
Adding the technology package also gets you a configurable digital display, which can be altered in terms of theme and information from the steering wheel controls. The F-Pace packs Bluetooth phone and audio functionality, in-car 4G Wi-Fi, navigation powered by Nokia’s excellent “Here” mapping system, satellite traffic updates and optional satellite radio, as well as connected convenience features.
Unfortunately, as with many luxury automakers, it’s all pay-to-play, costing a heavy premium over the F-Pace’s relatively low base price.
Safety: Not Rated
As it is a brand new vehicle in its first model year, the F-Pace has not yet been crash test rated by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the F-Pace is available with several active safety features, but there’s a catch.
Features like rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and more are only available in a package on lower trim models for $3,200, and adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking only come on the R-Sport trim and above. That’s a major oversight in the era of increasing safety technology, when automakers like Toyota and Honda are starting to offer a full suite of smart safety tech features included on every model or for a reasonable price.
Power and Performance: 8.0 Rating
Did anyone tell the F-Pace that it was, in fact, a crossover? I’m not sure anyone informed this handsome Jag of its high-riding roots, because you’d be hard-pressed to find an SUV that acts more like a sports car than this one.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four cylinder, but the F-Pace you want – and the one I drove – packs a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 340 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is routed to all four wheels (for now, as rear-wheel-drive F-Pace models will come later this year or early next) through an 8-speed automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly and chooses optimal gears wisely.
The 8-speed also helps immensely with fuel economy, as over my 70-mile test loop, I managed almost 22 mpg with the F-Pace, one more than the EPA’s estimated 21 mpg. That’s not stellar, but if you want the fuel economy king stick with the diesel engine.
Acceleration from the supercharged V-6 is not as punchy as some turbocharged competitors, but absolutely flies as you climb up the rev range. It makes a hell of a noise too, emitting a guttural growl that’s just loud enough to make you feel all fuzzy inside, but fades away to a whisper in relaxed driving. It’s as exciting as a non-performance SUV can get, and often causes you to forget that you’re behind the wheel of a crossover, not a sports sedan.
Ride and Handling: 9.0 Rating
As good as power delivery from the V-6 is, Jaguar’s chassis and handling engineers have one-upped the powertrain department, crafting a driving experience that’s second only to the excellent (and Daily News Autos Award-winning) Porsche Macan in terms of handling precision.
Turn in is incredibly direct, and the adaptive steering system makes sure you don’t have to give too much input to get the F-Pace to go where you want it to. The steering rack is nicely weighted too, and thanks to the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, there’s almost no detectable understeer even in hard driving. Jaguar’s engineers seem to have used magic at the front end of the car, because this crossover will hustle around corners despite its considerable heft.
The ride quality is pleasant as well, giving you just enough road feedback to remind you that you are, in fact, driving, but things can get a little bumpy thanks to the stiffer suspension on less-than-well-maintained highways (I’m looking at you, New York).
If I’ve got one piece of advice for prospective F-Pace buyers it’s this: skip the massive wheels and stick with 20 inches or less. It’ll be much less jarring on the road and you’ll be happy you took the curb appeal penalty to save your own spine.
The F-Pace is certainly not perfect, but quibbles with some of the interior materials and control ergonomics aside, Jaguar has managed to elbow its way into the luxury crossover fold with an impressive combination of good looks, great driving manners, and an air of exclusivity.
And trust me, this is still a Jaguar through and through. When all is said and done, while the practical side of your brain may scream for a more reasonable or tried-and-tested option, the F-Pace appeals to the ego deep down inside us that wants to be looked at and heard. Sure, buy an X5 if you want to play it safe. But if you want to live a little, leap for the Jag.
Total Vehicle Score: 154/190 points
Overall Vehicle Rating: 8.1