2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t

Test Drive: 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t

I have been reviewing Jaguar automobiles since 1984 when I started selling luxury and exotic cars at a local dealership in my hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario. Now, you might not consider a car salesperson to be an automotive review expert and there is truth in that. They typically push one or two brands and not provide an unbiased overview of the market. But nevertheless, they are reviewing the automobiles with you in order to help facilitate an educated decision. At least, that’s how it should work. And then there’s reality.

So how does any of this relate to the 2017 Jaguar F-PACE?

My point is this. I think I have a fairly good understanding of who Jaguar is as a company and what type of cars they build. Jaguar is typically not a follower in the marketplace, but rather a trend-setter. Even back in the day when I was peddling the Jaguar VandenPlas and XJS models of mid-1980, they were considered the benchmark for elegance and status; unfortunately not reliability and resale value. Love 12-cylinder engines – hate 12-cylinder engines.

Today, the XE, XF, XJ and F-TYPE line-up hold similar cache with buyers. So why are they introducing an all-new SUV. Instead of leading the charge this time, Jaguar is playing catch-up in the hot SUV market. They are not alone in this, so too are Maserati and Bentley. But ultimately Jaguar’s goal is to once again set the mark for others to follow and after spending quality time driving the new F-PACE, I am convinced they have another solid hit on their hands.

Three engine choices are available for the F-PACE. The first is a 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel that delivers 180 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 318 lb-ft of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm. Matched to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, the diesel F-PACE accelerates from 0-100 km in 8.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 208 km/h. Fuel economy is listed as 8.1 L/100 km combined city and highway.

The most powerful powerplant resides under the hood of the F-PACE S. It highlights 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in a scant 5.5 seconds.

My test drive takes place in the 2017 F-PACE 35t R-Sport featuring a supercharged 3.5L V6 gasoline-powered engine with AWD. It develops 340 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque between 3,500-5,000 rpm. Mated to the same 8-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted paddle-shifters, it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds and reaches a limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Performance in Eco mode is stately and fast-paced. It is safe to assume when driving the car around town or on long highway trips, this is the mode to choose if your goal is lower fuel consumption. When the passion for power kicks in and it will, a small button on the center console highlights a checkered flag and I suggest you toggle to it and activate. This is where the fun really begins!

If there was any worry that an SUV from the UK automaker with Chinese backing was going to deliver a boring vehicle, the checkered flag should alleviate your concern. In a flash, the Jaguar SUV goes from highway cruiser to pavement-stomping, crazy-smile-inducing family hauler. Every child at Saturday morning dance practice is going to want a ride home in your new F-PACE.

Technical wizardry abounds. Vehicle control is augmented with speed proportional steering, torque vectoring, JaguarDrive Control and something called All Surface Progress Control (ASPC). Bottom-line, it adds to the experience of driving at speed and never seems to intrude when you least expect it.

Exterior design elements include Bi-function Xenon headlights with LED “J” blade daytime running lights. The cat-like qualities inherent in every Jaguar are evident throughout. But given this is an SUV, the feline attitude is less sublime than it is with other models in the line-up. Front fog lights, headlight power washers, LED tail lights and power-folding door mirrors with auto-dimming are standard.

R-Sport equips the F-PACE with 20” Templar twin 5-spoke alloy wheels. Body coloured door handles and rear valance, a unique front spoiler, plus satin metal side vents with R-Sport badging round out the profile.

Inside, space for five is comfortable and everyone should feel at ease. Jaguar continuously improves on their passenger compartment experience and while it might not quite reach the level of the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan for overall look and feel, it is a close third.

Front sport seats provide outstanding hip, shoulder and butt support. Leather stitching adds class and a functional 3-spoke steering wheel offers a full complement of buttons to adjust everything from audio volume to adaptive cruise control. It deftly responds to my every input, providing excellent feedback as I push hard through the tight twists and turns of Niagara’s best backroads. This is not a phony Jaguar; it feels more like a finely-tuned sport sedan.

Unique features abound such as the optional configurable interior mood lighting. Brushed satin metal and veneer gloss black highlight the door panels, dash area and center console. It doesn’t overwhelm, but rather accentuates the interior.

Back seat passengers may find legroom challenging at times, but no more so than in the competition. Head room is excellent and our R Sport model highlights a panoramic roof. Vent controls, heated seats and three power outlets are mounted on the back of the center console for easy access. Power recline for the rear is also included.

And then there is this unique feature Jaguar calls the Activity Key. It’s actually not a key at all, but rather a bracelet in the style of Fitbit that you wear on your wrist. F-PACE is designed for those on the go. Specifically, you might want to lock everything in your vehicle, including the keys, then head off into the woods, go surfing, or hit the slopes. Activity Key is activated by touching the “J” in the word “Jaguar” on the trunk lid which flashes the lights, locks all doors and deactivates the vehicle keys inside the car. When you return, simply touch the “J” again and all is back to normal. Watch the video at the bottom of this review for a quick demo.

The 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t R-Sport might just be the best 5-passenger luxury SUV currently in the market. Main competitors from the likes of Audi, BMW, Porsche, Lexus and others offer similar space, equipment and levels of performance, but only the Porsche Macan comes close to how the F-PACE drives. And it turns heads, seriously turns heads. The UK automaker may have been a little late to the game, but it appears they were busy doing their homework first and it shows. Now it’s up to everyone else to keep pace.

2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t R-Sport
Price as tested (before taxes): $69,325.00
Freight: $1,375.00
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L 6-cylinder/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 340 hp/ 332 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (63L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 13.0, hwy: 10.0 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.7 L/100 km (500 km)
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi Q5, BMW X4, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan

Related links:
Jaguar Canada

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