2017 Jaguar F-Pace review: Jaguar's first SUV runs like a sports car but has a mind of its own
I was on my last day with the 2017 F-Pace S, Jaguar's first ever SUV, reveling in British luxury when the navigation system turned itself on. The new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system had already frozen up on me once, now it had decided to take me to Target, a destination I had input the day before.
At first I wasn't sure what the final destination the F-Pace had in mind, as it was only telling me to get on the highway. Once I zoomed out on the navigation screen and realized what had happened, I chalked it up to yet another electrical quirk from the British automaker and continued on to Roadshow HQ... without the help of the navigation.
The five-seat Jaguar F-Pace was introduced in 2016 as a 2017 model year, jumping on the crossover craze that has hit America in the face like a punch from Connor McGregor. It's available in base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, S or Portfolio. All come standard with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The F-Pace sports a 3.0-liter engine or 2.0-liter diesel engine under the hood, although Jaguar will put more engine options on tap for 2018.
While the InControl Touch system is standard, my tester had Jaguar's InControl Touch Pro, which bundles navigation, audio and phone controls on a 10.2-inch touchscreen. The system itself isn't the most intuitive and I experienced a few glitches. Buttons froze up and became unselectable. And even though I left the system on Sirius satellite radio when turning off the car, it would often (but not always) turn itself back to terrestrial radio upon start up. The volume control on the steering wheel is slow to react, causing me to stab it with my finger in frustration when a good song came on.
I am far from the only person to have a bad experience with Jaguar's infotainment technology. My colleague Antuan Goodwin recently had his own quibbles with the InControl Touch Pro system, with the screen unexpectedly going black and general lagginess across the system.
Jaguar supplements the InControl Touch Pro display with a large 12.3-inch screen in place of a traditional gauge cluster. It's not quite as slick as Audi's Virtual Cockpit, but you have your choice of four layouts plus navigation. Having the nav front and center means my eyes on the road more, not on the center stack. It's a super-slick feature that is especially useful in heavy traffic, when chances for a rear-end collision are higher. Unfortunately selecting the full map display takes a few clicks and I had to do it every time I started the car. I wish it would default to the last screen used.
And speaking of navigation, you can't literally speak to navigation. The nav system does not support voice recognition, although you can tell it to call your mom or change the radio station.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not supported. Instead Jaguar relies on its own InControl app from your phone to throw things like Stitcher, Spotify, and Sygic or Magellan navigation to the head unit. Getting the system to recognize the app was hit-or-miss, and you have to upgrade the premium paid version of some apps, like the parking spot finder app Parkopedia.
There is a Wi-Fi hotspot that can support up to eight devices. I was able to connect my computer easily to get some work done while on the road.
When it comes to driver's aids, the F-Pace S comes standard with a rear-view camera, Blind Spot Monitor and Lane Keep Assist. If you want the big guns, you'll have to pay the big money. The Driver Assistance Package is a $3,265 extra bit of tech that unfortunately my tester did not have. Bummer, too as it includes Adaptive Cruise Control that works at low speeds, and Traffic Sign Recognition, which reads speed limit and no passing signs and displays the information to the driver. The package also has Adaptive Speed Limiter, which uses speed limit information to keep the F-Pace at an appropriate speed. As a lead foot who often needs help keeping my speed in check, this feature would be awesome.
Get in and hang on
Regardless of my problems with the InControl Touch Pro system, the F-Pace S is one hell of a fun drive. The S version is only available with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, good for 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The Porsche Macan GTS and Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe put out less horsepower and my super-scientific 0-60 mph test, where I timed my acceleration using the F-Pace S' Dynamic-i timer, resulted in numbers somewhere in the 5-second range, close to the manufacturer-claimed time of 5.1 seconds for the S trim line.
The F-Pace S gets an EPA fuel rating of 18 miles per gallon in the city, 23 miles per gallon on the highway and 20 miles per gallon combined. My week matched that combined number, even though I drove with an imaginary rock on my right foot most of the time.
You have your choice of Eco, Normal, Dynamic or Rain/Ice/Snow driving modes, each with their own throttle programming, shift points and steering feel. Regardless of your choice, the Jag's Adaptive Dynamics system delivers continuously variable dampening technology for flat cornering. The optional 20-inch wheels provided a bit of bumpy ride over undulating pavement, but it's easy to forgive when the chassis is so eager to turn.
In fact, the F-Pace was able to go nearly as fast through the turns on my Super Secret Test Road as my two-seat daily driver. The car's Dynamic-i G-meter recorded .99 g on a trip through the twisties, even on the standard all-season Goodyear Eagle F1 AT tires. This kitty has claws.
The all-wheel drive system is rear-biased, providing a bit more fun in the twisties. It's helped along by torque vectoring, which brakes the inside rear wheel to help the F-Pace turn. The result is a point-and-shoot crossover with excellent steering feel, a snappy transmission and a throttle that's willing to go deep.
And believe it or not, the F-Pace has proven itself in the dirt, having taken third place in the crossover class in the 2016 Rebelle Rally. Driver Jaimy Grigsby piloted the crossover from Lake Tahoe to San Diego, all off-road over rocks, sand and dunes. The team swapped the stock tires to a more aggressive Nitto Terra Grapplers, but other than that the F-Pace was stock and completed the rally with no problems.
While most sport crossovers can only haul themselves and a bit of cargo, the F-Pace is actually very practical. It can tow 5,290 pounds, which believe it or not is more than a Toyota Tacoma, albeit without the tow package, and way more than the 3,500 pounds you can drag behind the BMW X4 M40i and Mercedes-AMG GLC43.
Inside space is at the top of the class as well, with 33.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 63.5 cubic feet total. That's enough for 267 twelve packs of Diet Dr Pepper. Curiously, the rear cargo space is missing a light, making it difficult to find that apple that rolled out of your bag on the way home from the grocery store.
If it were my money, I'd buy the F-Pace in S trim for the supercharged V6, and I'd add in the Driver Assistance package for adaptive cruise control and Traffic Sign Recognition. I would also add the Comfort and Convenience Package because I'm a sucker for heated seats, although at this price point heated seats should be standard instead of part of an $1,800 package. I'd leave the Luxury Interior Package on the table, saving $2,200. The big question is the $3,200 Technology package, which includes the InControl Touch Pro and the cool interactive 12.3-inch display in the gauge cluster. I hated the former but loved the latter. In the end, I don't think having a map front and center is worth the price tag
The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace starts at just under $42,000, but my S trim test model starts at $57,700, and adding all the options pushes that price to $69,135 with destination. The F-Pace S is a monster fun drive and it certainly looks sexy as all get out. If Jaguar could get a handle on their infotainment system, the F-Pace would be tough to beat.