If ever there were a disruptor in the chain of traditional thinking, it is the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. It is not likely this British purveyor of luxury automobiles needs a luxury-performance off-roading all-wheel drive sport-utility vehicle. But the F-Pace will become an elite recruiter for a new generation of Jaguar.
The F-Pace is not merely a statement of prestige; it is a flash-bang grenade in this very popular vehicle segment. Its designers and engineers have had time to review the competition and winnow the weaknesses in this arms race for new money. Though Jaguar is the car side of Land Rover, the F-Pace shares nothing architecturally with any Land Rover product. Underneath it shares the same architecture as the Jaguar XE and XF sedans.
A third of the F-Pace is made of aluminum (including most body panels and the suspension) with high-strength steels, a composite tailgate and a magnesium cross-car beam. It is held together by 2,600 self-piercing rivets, 238 feet of glue and 2,600 spot welds. It’s a stiff chassis to make the suspension work with svelte control and a hushed cabin.
The F-Pace has three powertrain choices: diesel or two V-6 powertrains with eight-speed automatic transmissions and an advanced all-wheel drive system. Supercharged 340-horsepower or 380-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engines are available in the 35t AWD or F-Pace S, today’s tester.
The F-Pace diesel, with a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, has the lowest starting prices, which range from about $42,000 to $55,000. The engine spools up 318 foot-pounds of torque from a fairly low 1,750 to 2,500 rpm and has fuel economy ratings of 26 mpg city, 33 highway and 29 mpg combined. But its fuel tank is about a half-gallon smaller (for diesel-exhaust fluid) than the already small 16.6-gallon tank in the V-6 models, so the cruising range takes a bit of a hit, though it still has more range than the thirstier V-6. The diesel’s performance is far more relaxed than either V-6, posting zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds vs. 5.4 seconds for the 35t AWD and 5.1 seconds for the S model.
The 35t, also sold in three trim levels, has starting prices that range from $43,385 to $56,300. Included for all 2016 Jaguar models sold in the U.S. is the EliteCare warranty: five years/60,000 miles of bumper to bumper coverage with free scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance and Jaguar InControl Remote & Protect emergency services.
The F-Pace S starts at $57,695. Some wheel, paint and package upgrades could add another $12,000. But the tester had no extras and was well-equipped with such features as a Meridian surround-sound audio system, a 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, a 10.2-inch touch screen, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, power reclining, heated rear seats, panoramic roof, 20-inch alloy wheels with red calipers and, of course, leather upholstery, smartkey entry and push-button ignition.
Advanced technologies include torque vectoring by braking (spin control), stability and traction controls, roll-stability control, adaptive all-surface progress control and a configurable performance mode. And all these systems stand at the ready without emitting frightening alerts of a possible unpleasant event.
Pour on the power and hold on to the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 380-horsepower feels about right for nimble hefting of the 4,015-pound curb weight. The transmission moves briskly through the gears and has a sharp punctuation in Sport mode. My average fuel economy reflected my enthusiasm: 21.2 mpg, but that’s comparable to others in this segment. Braking is absolute and smooth due to four-wheel vented disc brakes –13.7 inches front and 12.7 inches rear.
Despite an exterior that appears almost compact, the interior is broad and roomy, though it has a low ceiling — 37.8 inches of headroom with the panoramic sunroof. Sightlines are cropped at the broad base of the windshield pillars, and over-the-shoulder views will rely on correct side-mirror placement. The big rearview camera is priceless for reversing and parking.
The cabin is smartly arranged with many considerate features that come with the budget of a luxury vehicle. The assembly is immaculate with rich-looking materials and liberal use of soft-touch surfaces. Storage areas are generous with a good charging bin in the center armrest console and a slot to lay a phone on the shifter console. Touch screen access is reasonably simple for audio, climate, phone and navigation. But there also are buttons for fan-AC-temp and a volume control knob. The visors (with covered and lighted mirrors) do not slide and are almost inadequate when it comes to blocking sun.
Back seat space is commanding on the raised bench with a skyline view through the pano roof. The seat bottom is quite firm, and center footroom is consumed by the tall transmission tunnel. Amenities include a fold-down padded armrest with cup holders, two charging USB ports and a 12-volt plug.
Cargo capacity is larger than it may seem at 33 cubic feet. The space is flat and square and significantly expandable by the 60/40 seatback. The seats manually spring to an almost flat position by levers in the cargo area. It’ll hold boards, but it’s probably not so handy for bikes. There are also four bag hooks and four beefy tie-downs.
Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum is a car enthusiast who has built a hot rod and totally customized a vintage Mk2 Jag saloon (four-door) custom. He calls the F-Pace “an all-weather Jaguar sports car, life-proofed for five people and their belongings.”
Welcome to the new Jaguar.
Mark Maynard is online at email@example.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage