Wheels

Behind the Wheel of the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

The new crossover sports a 340 horsepower V-6 engine and 8-speed transmission.

By |

From the land of Stilton Cheese, the Pimm’s Cup and odd English jargon, the arrival here of Jaguar’s first ever crossover/sport utility vehicle not only added to the marque’s Britannic cachet, but also was a Johnny-come-lately addition in a crowded segment of the U.S. automotive market.

Jaguar’s new F-Pace crossover comes from across the pond with unique bragging rights: royal warrants. These are endorsements from Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales. Lovely.

I wanted to drive a Jaguar F-Pace after seeing a thrilling television commercial about it. It showed legendary stunt driver Terry Grant defying gravity in an F-Pace while going 360 degrees in the largest loop-to-loop circle, setting a new Guinness world record in the process. Jaguar reportedly sold more than 30,000 F-Pace models globally in the six months after that spectacular commercial ran.

Upon accepting a new 2017 Jaguar F-Pace from a representative for a week behind the wheel, I was given a mandatory orientation to the vehicle’s Activity Key, a waterproof, shockproof wristband with an integrated transponder. The device, which resembles a Fitbit, “supports an active lifestyle,” the representative said, because it allows the key fob to be locked securely inside the vehicle.

Why would you want to do that? Because it makes sense if you’re going surfing, kayaking, hiking, or engaging in other outdoor activities. It’s waterproof to 98 feet.

Locking the F-Pace with the Activity Key will disable any key fobs left inside. When you return to the vehicle, you simply unlock it by holding your wristband in close proximity to the J of the Jaguar lettering on the tailgate. The Activity Key is a $400 option.

My F-Pace SUV was an R-Sport model with a supercharged 3.0-liter, V-6 engine rated at 340 horsepower, and a smooth 8-speed transmission. There are shift paddles on the steering wheel for manual driving, like a Formula One race car. The engine delivers a lot of torque at all speeds. 

The Jaguar F-Pace is a handsome and refined crossover, with fresh, distinctive styling that includes a modest hood bulge and muscular rear haunches. The iconic Jaguar “Growler” emblem is on the front grille, and the Jaguar “Leaper” can be found on the tailgate.

According to Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design, the F-Pace “offers all of the interior space you would expect, and more. But because of our disciplined approach to surfaces, pr portions and purity of line, we have designed what I consider to be the most balanced, most attractive vehicle in its class.”

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The body structure of the F-Pace is 80 percent aluminum. Jaguar is a pioneer in the use of aluminum in its vehicles. It’s strong, rigid and lightweight, yet it offers excellent protection for occupants while enhancing handling and braking. 

The interior of my R-Sport model had premium leather seating surfaces, excellent stitching and detailing. In short, it’s a sporty-looking cabin environment. In the back, there’s room for three adults to sit comfortably side by side. The sliding panoramic roof has an electric blind to reduce excessive heating under intense sunlight. A thoughtful feature. 

The sporting personality of my F-Pace quickly came to the fore when I engaged the Sport gear on the center console’s rotary drive selector. I was greeted with a rapid-response, supercharged acceleration and the sound of a throaty exhaust note from the 340-horsepower engine. I preferred the more spirited performance in the Sport mode all week as I enjoyed the emergence of spring in Hunt Country. 

My comfort and the vehicle’s sporty handling were largely due to the aluminum double-front wishbone suspension and the integral-link rear suspension. The head-up display projects your speed and other info onto the windshield. Other features include blind-spot monitoring on each outside mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-inch instrument cluster, surround-sound with 11 speakers, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. 

The all-wheel-drive system in my F-Pace is designed to react in milliseconds to road conditions. Predictive as well as reactive, the system kept me from losing traction. Credit the sophisticated software/algorithms. 

The base price of my F-Pace R-Sport is $55,300. Optional equipment brings the price to $64,385. Scheduled maintenance is provided at no cost for five years/60,000 miles, and so is 24-hour roadside assistance. The combined city/ highway fuel economy of my model is estimated at 20 mpg. 

The Jaguar F-Pace offers British breeding, excellent performance and features you’ll appreciate wherever you live—be it Devon, Downingtown or Dubai.

The Hunt Spring 2017  Issue

This article was published in Wheels from the Spring 2017 issue.
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