Its raw good looks will attract first-time luxury buyers into the Jaguar dealership.
With plenty of competition from European rivals as well as within their own product family, Jaguar had enough reason to avoid playing in the luxury crossover market. Until now, that is – the family of cats is expanding for the 2017 model year to include two new players that should be particularly huge sellers for the brand. The XE luxury sport sedan will be playing with the revered BMW 3-series (reviewed here) when it arrives this year, and the European crossovers had better watch out too. We snagged the keys to a 2017 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 35t for a weeklong evaluation to determine just how strong of a player the Brits have arrived with.
First things first – the F-Pace is a seriously hot looker. Even with the polarizing new Lexus RX 350 (reviewed here) available now, the sexy F-Pace is easily the best-looking luxury crossover this side of a Range Rover. It incorporates the stunning front end, grille and headlights that make the new XF (reviewed here) stand out from its enemies, and maintains the same muscular haunches as the F-Type. From the rear, the taillights are very F-Type, and the car almost looks like the brand’s gorgeous roadster with a backpack on it. Is this a bad thing? Not in the slightest – why not make your crossover look like the spawn of a sports car?
The interior is equally elegant, albeit with some confusing bits. Fit and finish is near perfect, with high quality materials, leathers, and fine woods used throughout. The center console is lined in piano black gloss wood, with nicely styled black leather and contrasting white stitching. The steering wheel is a three-spoke R-Sport design and has usable controls on it, almost reminiscent of the one in the Porsche Macan (reviewed here). Gears are changed using the Jaguar rotary dial, which is responsive and disappears into the console when the car is turned off.
Jaguar’s InTouch infotainment system has been updated slightly from the older designs, featuring nicer colours, a cleaner theme, and better response. However this technology is still outdated when compared to BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s latest Virtual Cockpit applications. It’s not exactly the most user friendly nor is it all that fast. Jaguar and Land Rover models now incorporate some further connectivity apps that allow for optimal use, but a full cycle redesign will be wholly welcomed in the upcoming year. Those loyal to the brand over the past decade will not be disappointed, but the goal of the F-Pace is to win over crossover buyers from the Germans, and the infotainment remains a challenge in this regard.
The F-Pace offers a few powertrain options, including a diesel – we were fortunate enough to test the most powerful 35t model with the R-Sport goodies. This isn’t a 3.5L turbocharged engine, as the name would suggest. It’s the latest application of Jaguar’s 3.0L supercharged V6, an incredibly smooth motor that I’m personally a huge fan of. Here it pushes a healthy 340 horsepower at 6,500RPM and 332 lb-ft of torque at 4,500RPM. The only available transmission is ZF’s eight-speed automatic (with paddle shifter), which is okay but the tuning isn’t as crisp as it is in the BMW X5 (reviewed here).
With regards to the motor, Jaguar is one of the only players in the luxury crossover class (not including sister company Land Rover) that offers a supercharged engine. With single and twin-turbochargers becoming the norm from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the Audi Q7 (reviewed here) remains the only non-JLR offering with a supercharger. Engine response is smooth and linear, with excellent low-end pull, and the whine of the blower can be heard at higher RPMs.
The engine in the F-Pace is not only responsive – it hustles and sounds great while doing so. While the BMW and Mercedes-Benz (even in M and AMG) trims are very technical-feeling and Teutonic in nature, the Jaguar has its own personality that’s very traditionally British. It’ll hit 100 km/h in the mid-to-high 5-second mark, which isn’t as fast as the Porsche Macan GTS but significantly faster than the new GLC 300. Plus, the sport exhaust, something Jaguar’s engineers have become masters at, is a constant reminder that you bought something different and special.
When pushing the F-Pace 35t around some of our favourite driving roads, the handling continued to impress. Some understeer made itself evident as the car’s limits were approached. Steering is electrically assisted, and doesn’t have any meaty feel to it. Also, the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires on our test vehicle were on another limitation to the handling. Jaguar Canada is only offering the F-Pace to Canadians in all-wheel-drive guise, which will undoubtedly make sales easy.
A cool feature aboard the Jag is the Adaptive Dynamics Package, which is a fancy name for electronically adjustable dampers made by Bilstein. This is standard on top-trim F-Pace S models, and an option on the rest of the line. Along with the dampers, putting the F-Pace into “Dynamic” mode also adjusts throttle response, transmission shift points, and weight to the electric steering. Lastly, the car quiets down in “Eco” or “Normal” settings. Leaving it in “Dynamic” is obviously preferred for performance driving, but the ride is very firm in this setting.
In the past, when testing supercharged V6 examples of Jaguar/Land Rover products, the fuel efficiency was a huge weakness. This was the case as recently as this year, with our test of the Land Rover LR4 (reviewed here). The F-Pace’s gearing and available “Eco” mode go a long way to helping, and our test, with a good mix of highway kilometers, concluded at 11.3L/100km on premium 91-octane fuel. The electronic fuel gauge is also capable of displaying the exact percentage of fuel remaining in the tank while driving.
With the new Jaguar Activity Key, the brand is trying to bring in athletes and outdoorsy families. This feature consists of a wristband that you can use to unlock or lock the doors and leave the actual key fob inside the vehicle. Tapping the band on the “J” on the trunklid Jaguar logo operates the locks. If done correctly, you have thirty seconds after the doors are unlocked to open one of them. We found this feature worked intermittently, though it’s an industry first and we’d like to give it some time to improve before writing it off.
Intriguingly, Jag has chosen a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine as the entry-level model for the F-Pace. This starts at just $50,900, though most Canadians will opt for this 35t, which begins at $54,900. Our car was the Prestige model, which adds Taurus leather seats, interior mood lighting, bi-xenon headlights, and a few gizmos for $59,400. Adding in the Comfort & Convenience Package, Driver Assist group, heated windshield and Activity Key brought the total to just shy of $67,000 as-tested.
The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport 35t is a new player in an established market, and marks Jaguar’s entry into the luxury crossover segment. It’s an aggressively priced crossover that offers excellent front and rear legroom, ample headroom, and adequate sightlines considering its stylish design. Its raw good looks will go a long way to attracting first-time crossover buyers into the Jaguar dealership. Under direction and supervision from Indian automaker Tata, the Jaguar Land Rover group is sure to see improved reliability and far better customer experience, which will go even further to help the luxury brand succeed globally.