cars

Jaguar F Pace puts some teeth in the crossover

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 3:01 AM

The 2017 Jaguar F Pace cuts a handsome profile while offering fun handling and quick acceleration.

2017 Jaguar F Pace S: A new cat for the crossover set.

Price: $58,695 as tested (no options on test vehicle; a bare-bones version can be had for $42,065.)

Marketer’s pitch: (Deep breath) “The first Jaguar luxury performance SUV brings together sporty handling and dramatic beauty with everyday practicality and efficiency.”

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the Jag’s “slinky looks, refined and efficient engine, in a class of one” but not that it’s “slow, costly, not as miserly as Jag’s diesel sedans.”

Reality: The F Pace has some growl, but some drawbacks might get your fur up.

A special treat: When life is uncertain, it’s nice to be bathed in luxury I’ll probably never be able to afford. After the F Pace, we’ll pay a visit to the Infiniti Q70 and BMW 540 in coming weeks.

What’s new: Everything — the F Pace was all new for 2017.

A Jaguar is a rare treat for me. This is only the second one I’ve been in, and the two-seater F Type was, of course, a much different world (and cost twice as much).

Up to speed: Still, getting on to highways in the F Pace is sheer joy. The 380-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 allows the F Pace to move at a fast pace (5.3 seconds for 0-60, says Car and Driver) and the exhaust note while getting there is dreamy.

On the road: Handling is taut. Even for a small crossover, the F Pace feels seriously sporty.

But the handling trades off against the ride; it has a pretty significant bounce factor. Bumps are a little rough, and a sway is noticeable in all but dynamic mode.

Shifty: Jaguar makes a dial transmission that stows away when the vehicle is shut off; it’s fun to watch the little dial appear, like Scotty (other Scotty, Star Trek Scotty) doing the old “Beam me up” routine.

The 8-speed automatic has manual shift paddles that work delightfully.

Driver’s Seat: Firm is the word of the day here, almost a sore point. The leather seats keep Mr. Driver’s Seat’s seat in place.

Friends and stuff: Rear seat space is fairly snug; this is a small crossover. We put Sturgis Kids 1.0 and 4.0 along with their grandmother in the back for a trip out to dinner and the rear seat was as stuffed as we felt when we were done.

Cargo space is snug, as well, despite 33.8 cubic feet behind the second row.

Cubby space can be difficult to locate. What looks like a big storage tray at first becomes the transmission dial pod; the knob makes its appearance only after start-up. Side slots hold phones to some degree, but they weren’t made with the iPhone 7 Plus in mind. A console in the center keeps plenty of necessities but seems hidden away upon entry.

Play some tunes: The F Pace didn’t quite live up to the older brother’s example. I found sound to be a little dull and bass heavy. (I now fear that I was bathed in too much English leather during my F Type test.)

Stereo operation is fairly clear. I’m not fond of just one dial for volume control, but the station-change function is built into the main screen, so that’s a plus.

Keeping warm and cool: The seat heaters/coolers are in the screen, though, and require foraging through a thicket of touchscreen buttons to get temperature just. Where. You want it. Dear Jaguar, have you ever been traveling at 75 mph alone and decided your butt was hot/cold? I have. I’ll take one toggle button, please.

Tough visibility: That raked rear end and small back window make seeing behind you a difficult proposition. Look twice before making any lane changes.

Hot stuff: The exhaust extenders on the test vehicle certainly extend the exhaust pipes. Be careful not to burn your shins when removing cargo after a long trip.

Start-Stop: The auto-stop function was fairly abrupt. Drivers will learn to release the brake a little bit before it’s time to go.

Night shift: The overhead lights have a great touch sensor — I found myself fumbling in the dark to find the switch, touched the light, and it turned on.

Fuel economy: I averaged about 22 mpg in a nice, long test, including a trip across Pennsylvania. The F Pace prefers premium.

Where it’s built: Solihull, England

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts its reliability will be 2 out of 5.

In the end: Wannabe F Type owners will feel reasonably sated by the F Pace, but there remain compromises to be had.

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

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