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Review: 2017 Jaguar F-PACE S AWD

The 1990’s were especially fond of truck-based SUVs. But then, with the new millennium, a change came. First it was the BMW X5. Then Porsche followed it with the Cayenne. Eventually there were many others, too. Unibody vehicles in the general shape of SUVs, but with direct resemblance to their corporate luxury sports car siblings were popping up everywhere. Those vehicles combined, more or less, the road manners of sport sedans, the utility of SUVs with none of the off-road prowess, and the preconceived notion of prestige. Needless to say they sold in droves to those who wore sport chronometers.

Jaguar was resilient toward an SUV model. The brand exhausted every possible option first. They evolved the XJ, they introduced of a beautiful convertible and then an equally stunning coupe. Two sport sedans followed – the new XE and the revamped XF. Jaguar was even about to introduce the C-X75 supercar, only to nix it in the last minute, probably when someone in a board meeting asked how it was going to be financed. In the end, there was no other means of generating profits but to succumb to the evil that is SUV.

In the current Jaguar lineup, the F-Type is the fast and sexy one but it is small and few will really buy it as their primary car. The XJ is stunning to look at but its age prevents it from being comparative in its segment. The XF and XE look almost identical, look cool, and drive great, but people have stupidly stopped buying sedans. This is because SUVs, like the F-Pace, are easier to get into and out of, have honest room for four, and are better at accommodating golf bags, scuba gear, hiking essentials, or any other extreme activity devices that car buyers have the desire to utilize.

But the luxury SUV market seems awfully saturated. And even many pedestrian brands offer versions of their SUVs that can be considered downright luxurious. Is this F-Pace just another fish in the big pond of SUV fish? Why would anyone buy the F-Pace over any of its many competitors?

First, Jaguar really did their homework on the F-Pace. This one drives very well. When the road gets twisty the F-Pace stays composed and neutral with a hint of understeer, as it should. When the road gets bumpy, the F-Pace cruises in the universal set of sporty handling and comfortable ride Venn diagram. It’s very good in both aspects and doesn’t favor one over the other.

The sporty F-Pace S model, seen here, with the 3-liter supercharged 380-horsepower engine, gets from stand still to 60 MPH under five and a half seconds and kills the quarter mile in the high thirteens. That’s fast but competitive vehicles from Stuttgart are faster. The base F-Pace engine is a fuel-efficient diesel and a 340-horsepower version of the supercharged V6 is the middle offering. Judging by other Jaguar products, it would not be a surprise to see a more powerful F-Pace in the future.

Likewise, the interior carries over JLR’s design language seen in other models. It is simple, clean, airy, and modern. The F-Type has JLR’s new infotainment system which is a huge improvement over the previous system but still lagging offerings from Audi and BMW. The Meridian audio system sounds fantastic. The Activity Key is a Fitbit-like waterproof bracelet that allows the driver to lock the keys inside the car while he or she performs their choice of extreme sports.

The second advantage of the F-Pace is the fact that it’s new and no one has one, yet. And it is not just another BMW, Porsche, Lexus, or Infiniti. It’s new and it is different, but familiar and instantly recognizable as a Jaguar. Jaguar, unlike some other brands, is an established luxury brand, an original, which is important to a buyer’s perception. Along with that, the Jaguar brand doesn’t have much stigma associated with it like other European brands do, not to say that it lacks its own perceived issues, yet it still speaks of its owner’s successes but without flaunting it like a Benz with its illuminated star emblem.

F-Pace’s final advantage comes in form of the price. There are three models and the base diesel model starts at $41,990, which is relatively low. But like most European cars the price quickly swells up from there. The F-Pace S pictured here starts at $57,700 and has $15,700 in options. Add a destination charge and the price nearly doubles to $74,395. Standing behind their new and improved products, Jaguar throws in a 5-year/60,000 mile warranty, free scheduled maintenance, and roadside assistance.

Jaguar will soon be selling every F-Pace they can make because it is what the market demands and is quite good what it was designed to be – a good looking SUV that drives like a sport sedan. It might be best current Jaguar for most people. It will very quickly become the bestselling Jaguar ever. Some may find this awkward, or at least ironic, given the brand’s sport car history but that is the reality. Thankfully the F-Pace is here to keep vehicles like the F-Type alive for the enthusiasts.

Disclaimer: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC,  provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. Images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Redusernab 2016.

  • Maymar

    I drove one of these at a Jag event about a month ago, and really was impressed. There’s no getting away from physics, and 4300lbs and a higher CoG meant the scent of cooked brakes wafted through the parking lot, but it could absolutely hustle. For my money, I’d still stick with an XE (as I’m childless, shorter, and indifferent to my infrequent rear passengers), but the F-Pace isn’t a bad compromise over the XF for the sake of getting the 5th door.

    I still await the SportBrake though, as I exist on the internet.

  • Ross Ballot

    I have no use for a F-Pace but sorta/kinda want one. It’s good looking enough, luxurious enough, and roomy enough, and (likely) good enough in deep snow to warrant being a fantastic primary car.

    I wonder how they’ll age? Curious to see if in 3-4 years, a Carmax-purchased F-Pace is a good buy. Based on the deals you can get on Cayennes, Land Rovers, and so on, it could be a steal.

    F-Pace…P-Face…must not mix up…

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