JAGUAR DRIVES ITS FIRST EVER SUV INTO HOT MARKET
By Tom Crosby
Jaguar has entered the lucrative sport utility market with its 2017 F-PACE crossover that incorporates the luxury and performance of a Jaguar sedan with the rugged off-road chops of a Land Rover SUV. Tata Motors, the India-based owner of Jaguar Land Rover, knows trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles are the most profitable vehicles made and believe Jaguar’s iconic image will inspire buyers.
The luxury compact F-PACE enters a hotly contested market – numbering 103 SUV’s – which has been gaining sales, spurred by continuing low gas prices. The F-PACE comes in five trims: base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport and S. We tested the 35t R-Sport (there are also diesel powered R F-PACE trims). Our test-drive had $7,090 in much-needed and appreciative options that included design cues, technology upgrades, and a unique activity key – a water and shock proof wristband for locking your key in the car (disabling the engine) and unlocking upon return.
Eye-catching good looks – bound to win awards – is achieved with a classic simple, streamlined, aerodynamic look mingled with muscular wheel arches, extended spoiler, short front overhangs, sculpted hood and level beltline. Sturdily built with 80% aluminum – including the 3.0-liter premium gas-fed engine – the F-PACE handles like a sports car with familiar adrenaline rushes under acceleration inspired by precisely responsive handling using torque vectoring, plus adaptive and configurable dynamic systems. On 20-inch wheels cruising the highway, the ride is compliant with double wishbone and integral link suspension. Off-road, 8.4-inch ground clearance and all-wheel drive Land Rover-inspired features allows the F-PACE to hold its own off-road.
Adaptive surface response adjusts throttle speed and wheel spin for sand, wet grass, gravel or snow surfaces. Inside, our two-tone black and white theme included premium materials, intricate fit and finish, ample knick-knack spaces, a two-row panoramic moonroof, contrast stitching, tastefully placed Jaguar icons and cutting-edge safety features. Windsor soft-grain leather cosseted seats are comfortable and rear seats electrically recline plus fold to create ample cargo space with a reversible floor covering above a spare tire. InControl Touch Pro offers information and controls a 10.2-inch dashboard screen, swipeable like a tablet.
A Meridian sound system is excellent, sometimes having to overcome engine drone. Voice control works well but there is no navigation voice control, visors don’t extend and the start/stop feature is rough. It can be disabled, eliminating minor gas savings. Choosing Eco drive mode, instead of Normal or Sport, also helps conserve fuel.
LIKES: Power, profile, handling, posh interior, versatility, audio
DISLIKES: Visors, engine noise, options needed
BOTTOM LINE: F-PACE will elevate status of Jaguar brand
- Base price w/destination fee $43,490 (as tested $48,280)
- Curb weight 4,330 lbs.
- Wheelbase 121.6 inches
- Length 203.8 inches
- Width 79.6 inches
- Engine specs 2.5 liter, DOHC, inline 4 cylinders
- Horsepower 287 hp at 6,400 rpm
- Torque 262 ft-lbs. at 4,000 rpm
- Transmission 9-speed automatic
- EPA Rating 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy
- Range 19.0-gallon tank, regular
- Performance 0-60 in just under 7 seconds