World Car of Year (2017) Jaguar F-PACE [Review]

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The Jaguar F-PACE, the first SUV produced by the Coventry-based luxury marque and a runner-up in the Premium SUV category of the 2016/17 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank, has been named the 2017 World Car of the Year (ahead of the new Audi Q5 and Volkswagen Tiguan) at the New York Show. In 2016 we tested the 30d R-Sport derivative and these were our conclusions...

We like: Very dynamic SUV, good looks, spacious, powerful yet frugal turbodiesel motor

We don’t like: Optional equipment that should be standard, interior could have more wow!

Alternatives:

  • For even more diesel grunt: Audi SQ5 TDI quattro is faster from zero to 100 kph than the Jag, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth.
  • For more exclusivity: Porsche Macan S Diesel is dynamically as close as you’re going to get to the F-PACE, but it's slightly more expensive.
  • For more off-road capability: Range Rover Sport TDV6S is more expensive and has lower spec, but easily the most off-road prowess.

Compare the Jaguar F-PACE to the Porsche Macan S Diesel and Audi SQ5 here

A notch above in style

Ever since we saw the first images of what was the C-X17 Concept, the Jaguar SUV looked incredible. We don’t usually like to talk styling when reviewing cars, but Jaguar has hit a high note with this new F-Pace. From the back, it adopts F-Type styling and at the front, Jaguar’s new face is easily recognisable. Large SUVs aim to make a statement instantaneously, and if the amount of people that walked over to inspect the F-PACE during our test period is anything to go by, the F-PACE makes a big one.
 


Even with the high-profile tyres, the F-PACE still look athletic and stylish.

How does it fare in terms of…

Comfort and sporty dynamics?

Jaguar has hyped up the fact that the F-PACE is a sports car that also happens to be a practical SUV. We tested this recipe on a trip from Cape Town to Greyton along the N2 highway. There are some great climbs, swooping corners and kilometres of stringy spaghetti tarmac on this route. The F-PACE, even with its lofty claims, performed astoundingly well. It corners without body lean, which is counter-intuitive to its SUV heft. The barriers of grip are beyond that of your average large SUV and it’s the closest example of a sports car in an SUV body that we’ve sampled. The darting nature of the front-end makes it very responsive to steering inputs when you up the pace and the SUV’s body reacts quickly and accurately to sudden changes in direction.


Big sidewall tyres make the F-PACE very comfortable on all surfaces and it still has enough grip when pushed through a mountain pass.

A sporty drive usually comes in tandem with a rather stiff and jittery suspension setup. Thankfully, the F-PACE, much like the XF and XE that it’s based on, rides pristinely. Jaguar’s new suspension design has really improved the dynamism and comfort of modern Jags and the F-PACE is very composed on all surfaces making it a confident car to drive. The 19-inch wheels contribute greatly to the comfortable ride. They are shod with 255/55 profile rubber and the 55 profile certainly allows for a bit more give on rough surfaces. It maybe spoils the overall aesthetics of the vehicle, but if you’re willing to forego a bit of comfort, you can always up the wheels to 20- or even 22-inches.

Engine and performance?

The 3.0-litre turbodiesel doing duty under the bonnet in this F-PACE has some serious grunt. It’s good for 221 kW and 700 Nm of torque. It makes the F-PACE feel rapid from low down in the rev range and the surge of torque continuously improves acceleration at a rate that not many diesels can match. Fuel consumption is quite good as well with Jaguar claiming 6.0 L/100km. During our test, the F-PACE returned 8.4L/100km. The benchmark 0-100 kph sprint is dispensed in just 6.2 seconds, good enough to give the hot hatchback brigade a headache at the robots.


Powerful turbodiesel grunt provides lightning acceleration and excellent overtaking ability.

Added to the performance bent of the turbodiesel is the AWD system, which is heavily biased to the rear most of the time. As much as 90% of the power is sent to the rear wheels. When things get a little slippery, it will split power 50/50 and if more traction is required, the system will send even more power to the front wheels.   

Interior ambience?

The interior of the F-PACE is lifted from the XF and entry XE and it remains a weak point that Jaguar will no doubt address come facelift time. There’s a distinct lack of drama and excitement from behind the wheel, with only the blue interior lighting adding to the sense of occasion. The larger centre touchscreen is easier to read when moving but it can be slow to react to touches,  making it frustrating for those who are used to the responsiveness of a Smartphone.
 


Interior lacks drama and style of the exterior, but there is plenty of technology available on the options list.

The material quality and fit and finish isn't bad, but when you’re forking out a million Rand, you want to feel bathed in quality and luxury. The likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi feel more luxurious and better built than the Jaguar F-PACE. Having the electric window switches on the top of the window sill is an ergonomic mistake, although it will probably be something you get used to.

Practicality and technology?

Despite the coupe or estate styling, there’s plenty of headroom in the back of the F-PACE. The rear seats have been elevated by 10 mm to provide a ‘stadium seating’ feel. It somehow makes the rear feel roomier. Jaguar South Africa has opted to equip the F-PACE with a full-size spare wheel, the result of which, is a strange mound on the boot floor that cuts boot space from 650 litres to 463 litres. If you need a bigger boot, Jaguar will offer a space saver tyre as an option that increases boot space to 608 litres.

Jaguar offers a whole bunch of technology in the F-PACE, most of which can be selected from the options list. Our model came with multiple option packs, including the Adaptive Dynamics Pack (R16 600) that adapts to different surfaces allowing for maximum traction at all times. If you’re willing to go to town on the options list there isn’t anything amiss that other manufacturers offer. The InControl Connect Pro pack (R34 700) has built-in apps for your phone and there are special navigation systems that allow you to share your ETA with specific people. The system also learns your commute and will give you advice on the fastest route based on live traffic and historical data.
 
The option Jaguar offers over and above what any of the other manufacturers are doing, is the Activity Key (R4 300). It’s a watch strap that’s waterproof and is also the key to the car. For surfers, mountain bikers or anyone with an adventurous inclination, the Activity Key takes the hassle out of worrying about losing, breaking or drowning the key. You simply leave the main key inside the car, press the Activity Key to the boot and it locks the car. The same procedure opens the car. It's surprising that it has taken so long for a manufacturer to come up with a solution like this. Good on you, Jaguar!


The Activity Key is waterproof and allows the main key to be locked in the car while you are out having fun.

Pricing and after sales

The entry-level F-Pace starts off at R794 466 for the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, our 3.0-litre turbodiesel R-Sport weighs in at R1 121 546. The top-of-the-range supercharged, 3.0-litre petrol model can go for as much as R1 225 046. Jaguar backs the F-PACE with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.

Verdict

Jaguar South Africa's pricing strategy has been widely criticised, sometimes unfairly. Until very recently, the rand's weakness against the British Pound, which has made British cars rather expensive compared to their German rivals. The F-PACE seems to buck that trend and it's priced almost perfectly with the competition. It’s even a little cheaper than the aforementioned Macan and Audi SQ5. The F-PACE is the leader of the pack when it comes to sporty SUVs and seemingly outshines its own sedan siblings in terms of athletic ability. The ingrained performance hasn’t come at the expense of ride comfort either, as the big Jag is composed over all surfaces. The newcomer's interior, where some of the materials and build quality levels are not quite up to scratch, is its biggest disappointment, but its exterior more than makes up for it. The F-PACE pulls you towards an emotional purchase... on merit!

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