First look: Jaguar launches a pacesetter

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The 2017 F-Pace S muscles in on a crowded SUV market

WITH the sport utility segment growing both in volume and variety, particularly in the US where it is outpacing sales in all other vehicle categories, the introduction of an SUV by a manufacturer not previously known for them is not longer much of a surprise. What does come as a surprise is how good a vehicle some manufacturers are able to produce, and in this regard, Jaguar is certainly no exception.

The Jaguar F-Pace S is a worthy effort by the brains in Coventry, admirably bringing Jaguar’s sultry styling and athleticism to a large vehicle. For now, the F-Pace S is powered by either a 340-horsepower or optional 380-hp supercharged V6, both coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive; a diesel version is reportedly in development for introduction either at mid-year or in 2018.

With largely aluminium construction, the F-Pace provides a rigid, roomy cabin with more cargo room than its two main competitors, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and the Porsche Macan GTS. The Jaguar’s layout makes the vehicle seem deceptively larger than it is; the seating position is a bit higher than the Mercedes or Porsche, and combined with a high beltline and long hood gives the luxury SUV a bit of a “truck-like” feel.

Of course, the F-Pace’s interior appointments are anything but truck-like. Jaguar’s attention to top-notch interior decorating is enhanced by an option comfort and convenience package, which adds ventilated front seats, power-reclining rear seats with heaters, and a motion-activated power lift gate.


Two instrument and infotainment options are provided, a standard 8-inch multimedia touchscreen paired up with conventional gauges, or an advanced 10.2-inch unit with a 12.3-inch digital cluster. Paddle shifters and on-the-fly driving mode selection are standard features, as are LED headlights, an enormous panoramic sunroof, navigation system, blind spot and rear monitoring, and a lane-keeping assist system.

In terms of performance, the F-Pace S is a good package, though opinions among reviewers differ as to whether it is superior to its Porsche and Mercedes counterparts. The rigid body and fairly stiff suspension match well with the all-wheel drive system, which by default sends 100 percent torque to the rear wheels, transferring power forward in response to load.

On standard-issue 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 AT tires, test results posted by several reviewers indicate respectable performance; behind the 380-hp turbocharged V6, the F-Pace hits 100 kph in about 5.2 seconds, and passes a quarter-mile at just over 160 kph in about 13.6 seconds. The one stopping test result reported by anyone (Car and Driver, in this case) said the F-Pace came to a halt in 164 feet from 70 miles per hour, respectable for a vehicle like this, even if the reviewers complained that the brake pedal felt “a bit aloof” in use.

Initial impressions seem to be that the F-Pace S is every bit a Jaguar and every bit a high-end SUV, which certainly would have to be considered a good start. How well it sells against the likes of the Macan GTS, the GLC43, or even more exotic beasts like Maserati’s new Levante will be interesting to watch.

BEN KRITZ

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