First Drive: Jaguar’s Supercharged F-Pace Sport Crossover
The Jaguar F-Pace could easily be one of the most highly anticipated cars of the year for us at Autos Cheat Sheet. Jaguar’s new crossover CUV for the luxury market can be essentially customized to meet almost any lifestyle, and in order to weigh its worth, we took two supercharged V6 versions on a series of scenic drives in Colorado.
Driving through the swanky streets of Aspen in Eco mode, you get the feeling that Jaguar’s F-Pace is tailor-made to life out here. It’s small, sexy, expensive, and surprisingly practical. With a power-adjusting steering wheel that can be heated, an electronic e-brake, auto start/stop, multiple USB ports, and a panoramic sunroof that exposes the snow-capped Rockies looming above you, the vibe is just right.
Throw in options like deployable side steps, a 10.2-inch infotainment screen that can be transferred over to the digital gauge cluster, a slew of soft touch headliner and pillar materials, 22-inch alloys, and a profusion of active safety tech, and you’ve got a Porsche Macan alternative that costs a lot less. It also allows owners to customize almost everything in the MID and center stack, and loading in and out of either row is a very easy process due to optimal ride height settings and superb seating positions.
After spending an entire afternoon in the elegant F-Pace I almost felt smitten, and could not wait to drive it again. But for as outstanding as this car is, it has a few new-car teething pains that possible owners should be aware of.
Nuzzled among throngs of BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, and Volvos, the F-Pace commands attention with its unique, F-Type inspired lines and distinct Jaguar presence. It’s a crossover that doesn’t try to be more than it is, and although it does feature a ride height that’s suitable for mild off-road experiences, the stance it prefers to portray is one of refined power, with the “S” model sporting things like a more pronounced rear diffuser and a gaping performance air dam.
You can get the F-Pace with either a turbo diesel 2.0-liter motor out of an XE sedan, or one of two supercharged V6 options for a very rewarding 340 or 380 ponies. While the diesel variant was not available for comparison, we did get to play with both supercharged models, and do they deliver the dynamite. But power isn’t everything, and being a Jaguar, it means siphoning off just enough Land Rover mixology in order to make a potent concoction that is also smooth and luxuriously intoxicating.
Jaguar typically hits high marks in the interior department, and for the most part, the F-Pace does not disappoint. It’s a very well laid-out cabin, and although there are some unusually cheap plastics here and there, along with some soft touch-points that aren’t all that plush, it manages to overcome its flaws by offering a surprising amount of cabin space, and a mass of cool customizable trim and accessory options.
JLR has taken aluminum architecture design to new heights, and while this lightweight metal certainly helps make its cars faster, lighter, and more fuel efficient, it also does wonders for the structural integrity of its vehicles. Couple that with some passive and fully active safety tech, a deluge of all-wheel drive traction settings, some old fashioned adaptive lighting and cameras, and you’ve got a crossover that is just as safe as it is smart.
There also is the available $400 Activity Key bracelet, which is battery-free, and allows you to lock your fob in the car so you can go work out or play without dragging your whole keychain with you. When it’s time to towel off and climb inside, just put the bracelet near the rear badge and all the doors unlock. Blend that with some premium Meridian audio components, a snazzy MID that tells you damn near everything, and Jaguar’s outstanding “InControl Touch Pro” 10.2-inch tech upgrade, and the “art of performance” really does roar to life.
Available with either an adaptive dampening suspension setup or a tightly wound set of sport struts and springs, this crossover handles, steers, and floors it to 100 mile-per-hour speeds with unbridled abandon, and the fun gets even better off-road when crawl mode is enabled. While it is by no means as capable in rough terrain as the Range Rover, the F-Pace does hit harder than it looks, and we found the stock suspension to be so well-engineered that it became tough to justify the adaptive damper upgrade.
Since the last portion of the drive out in Colorado included a rally cross hill climb and some off-roading, we were able to hit a few dirt encrusted slopes and test out the aforementioned All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) for crawl control situations. This sleek crossover handled itself surprisingly well off-road, with equal amounts of agility and planted control offering reassurance at high and low speeds.
At higher cruising speeds, the exhaust remained Jaguar-luxury quiet, but when faced with overtaking a semi or throttling it up a dirt-caked mountain, we were rewarded with an ear-full of screaming feline. Quasi big brakes, multi-link rear suspension, double wishbone aluminum front components, and adaptive steering all performed flawlessly as well, causing the F-Pace to appear more F-Type than CUV.
This CUV truly is the most balanced attempt we’ve seen at making a performance-oriented crossover, and there are so many components within it that reinforce that. It’s as luxurious as it is sensible, and with a starting price that begins just above $40,000 and a warranty that lasts for five years or 60,000 miles, well-heeled buyers will like what they find in the value this vehicle can provide them when the outdoors come a-calling.
Though there were the rough plastics in the interior and add-ons can add up quickly, for its first attempt at cornering an already overly-competitive segment, Jaguar has done an outstanding job. So if you are thinking about graduating to the luxury market, and want some sport utility sensibility, we strongly suggest that you look toward the F-Pace first. As far as we’re concerned, this is the new precedent from which all other luxury crossover competitors will be judged.
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