Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV
British luxury brand Jaguar, owned with its sibling Land Rover by Tata Motors of India, announced Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV will launch a new smaller SUV Wednesday, the E-Pace, which will go on sale in the U.S. next year.
Jaguar filled in its product range last year with its first SUV, the F-Pace. For Jaguar to compete effectively in the U.S. it now needs an SUV bigger than the F-Pace, according to Dave Sullivan, Detroit Based analyst at the AutoPacific automotive sales forecaster.
In remarks just before the announcement of the new E-Pace, Sullivan said Jaguar has opted for controversial diesel power to help it meet oncoming tougher fuel efficiency standards, but this strategy needs to be quickly changed.
Whether we like it or not, SUVs and crossovers are fast becoming the dominant species in our automotive ecosystem. Sure, a station wagon offers all the same convenience without compromised handling, but people just aren’t reaching for their wallets for those the way they do for a raised ride-height and the (theoretical) potential to drive on rough terrain. Even OEMs that ply their trade based on a heritage of racing, with back catalogues full of sports cars, have gotten in on the act. Porsche showed the way with the Cayenne—the vehicle that arguably saved the brand—and then the Macan. Audi has the SQ5. Alfa Romeo has high hopes for its Stelvio. And then there’s the Jaguar F-Pace.
The F-Pace is the first Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV, built on a lightweight aluminum platform that also underpins the company’s sedans. One might think Jaguar wouldn’t need an SUV, since its Tata-owned stablemate Land Rover makes SUVs and nothing else. But the corporate bean-counters evidently saw an untapped market, and here we are. Jaguar says that the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV is a “performance SUV for those who love driving, with exceptional dynamics and everyday usability,” something we decided to put to the test during the course of a week we spent with an Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV 35t R-Sport.
First, let’s decode that name. The Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV is available with four different engines in the US—there are 2.0L turbocharged gasoline and diesel options and a pair of 3.0L supercharged V6s. Our car is one of the latter, with 340hp (254kW) and 332ft-lbs (450Nm) on tap (there’s also the range-topping F-Pace S which has 380hp). It also comes in a variety of trim levels or themes; in our case, the R-Sport has a more menacing look from the outside and heavily bolstered front seats. At $57,295 as tested, the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV 35t R-Sport isn’t particularly cheap, but it still undercuts similar options from Porsche or Audi.
Do they still make good engines?
One thing Jaguar has always been known for is its engines. The days of straight-six and V12s are now sadly gone, but the 90-degree V6 under this car’s hood (or bonnet, if you prefer) is a gem. It’s the same engine found in the F-Type sports car, and, with only 190lbs (86kg) more mass to move, it means the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV 35t is no slouch. The V6 uses direct-injection, variable (intake and exhaust) valve timing and mounts the Root
And it’s good to drive?
Again, the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV has clearly been infused with Jaguar’s corporate sensibility when it comes to rewarding the driver. With the car set to Dynamic, it’s a rather enjoyable thing to drive, disguising its mass quite well. Engine response is near-instantaneous and sonorous, too: induction growl mixes with supercharger whine and exhaust roar.
But take note: if you’re in Dynamic and have the transmission set to sport, best be ready to change gears with the paddle shifters. We banged into the rev limiter more than once expecting the ‘box to shift up, which is embarrassing when you’re attempting to indulge a demand to floor it (on a deserted, very straight road with good visibility, obviously).
Despite that lofty ride height, there isn’t too much body roll, and even though the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV is usually 100 percent rear-driven, it behaved a lot like a slightly overgrown, hot hatchback. It’s particularly at home at freeway speeds, where it never feels anything other than stable or predictable.
Sadly, things are let down a bit at anything under 20mph. Regardless of whether the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV was in Dynamic, Normal, or Eco modes, it suffered from a punishing low-speed ride. Every jolt—fore and aft, or side to side—gets transmitted through the sports seats and bounces the back of your head off the headrest or, worse, pummels your kidneys and lower back with the big side bolsters. This proved to be our biggest complaint about the F-Pace, and it seemed quite unlike the traditional Jaguar trait of being able to soak up road imperfections without affecting the ride.
The engine is coupled to a Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV a fine eight-speed automatic. Like the F-Type, it normally sends all its torque to the rear wheels, but up to 50 percent can drive the front wheels when the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics module deems it necessary. (Jaguar claims the module can make the transition from RWD to 50:50 AWD in just 165 milliseconds.)
Like the chassis, the suspension makes extensive use of aluminum, which helps contribute to that relatively light (for an SUV) curb weight of Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV. The suspension is a double wishbone arrangement at the front and an integral link setup at the rear, with monotube dampers all around. The Adaptive Dynamics package (as fitted to our test car) is constantly adjusting those dampers based on a constant sampling of the vehicle’s body movement (at 100Hz) and wheel movements (at 500Hz). Jaguar says this gives good handling at high speed as well as a comfortable low-speed ride. As we shall find out, they may only be half right.
You mentioned it was practical
Hop up into theJaguar F-Pace Compact SUV’s cabin and it’s obvious that Jaguar has a solid understanding of how to design an attractive interior. The main driving ergonomics—wheel position, pedals, and the ability to reach the infotainment system—are spot on. Not everyone will be a fan of Jaguar’s rotary gear selector dial, which sinks back into the console when you turn the car off, but it does fall easily under your right hand. Ahead of the steering wheel is the main instrument display. In our car, fitted with the Technology Package, that’s a 12.3″ LCD that’s relatively configurable with several different themes (in addition to changing within those themes depending upon the drive mode you’ve selected).
The dials are well animated with little lag and what appears to be a 60Hz (or near about) refresh rate. You can also fill the entire display with a moving map, similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit display, although we prefer the Audi’s better use of space since it isn’t just a large rectangle. We also like that Audi has a Google Earth view.
Less impressive is the huge blindspot caused by the very thick A pillar on the driver’s side and the extremely odd decision to locate the window switches atop the door. As has been the trend for some years now, the Jaguar F-Pace Compact SUV has a very high belt line, so the window opening is pretty high up and requires a bit of a stretch. Curiously, the design team chose to use the spot you would naturally expect to find those controls—right next to the door handle—for the memory buttons for the seats. I don’t know about you, but I use those far less frequently than I open my window.
With a relatively long wheelbase—113 inches (2.9m)—there’s plenty of room for both front and rear seat passengers, and despite our test car’s jet black leather interior, it isn’t particularly gloomy thanks to a massive glass roof.
The F-Pace happened to arrive right as I was in the middle of moving house—what better way to test its utilitarian side and cargo ability? With the rear seats folded down, cargo volume goes from 33.5 cubic feet (949L) to 63.5 cubic feet (1,798L). Getting stuff in and out was simple enough thanks to a relatively low loading height and the remote trunk-opening button on the key fob. And indeed, the F-Pace acquitted itself well, running multiple loads across town as well as more than one recycling run. (Of note: turning up at the city waste transfer station in an F-Pace will not go unquestioned by the people working there, but we did get several questions about the car, and they seemed to like it.