If one were to hop into the fabled time machine of H.G. Wells and travel back to the early part of the 21st century, you’d find that the letters S, U, V, were part of the alphabet and hardly seen in each other’s company. You’d also find that many luxury car makers would sniff at the idea of an all wheel drive capable vehicle being part of their stable. Note “all wheel drive”, not “four wheel drive”. Flash back to 2017 and there’s hardly a car maker of any decent size that doesn’t have an SUV. One such maker, a British brand known more for the slogan of “Grace, Pace, and Space”, has joined the SUV party albeit one with a slightly odd name.Built around the basic looks of their two seater sports car, the Jaguar F-Pace has the leaping cat well and truly poised to make a serious indentation on the SUV market share. With four standard models and one limited edition run (as of early 2017), a range of engines, and a list of options almost too big to comprehend, the F-Pace R-Sport was the vehicle supplied to A Wheel Thing in February 2017.There’s a lot to like, up front, about the R-Sport. Captain of the team of likes is the monstrous 700 torques being twisted out by the diesel fuelled 3.0 litre twin turbo V6 fitted. There’s a 2.0 litre diesel as the standard with 132 kW and a not indecent 430 torques, or a supercharged 3.0 litre petrol, with 250 kW/450 Nm. Sir will take the 700 Nm, thank you. Along with the torque that’s enough to rip the cape from Superman’s shoulders, you get a surprisingly good fuel economy. Surprising because although the F-Pace looks a mid sizer, there’s a gross vehicle weight of 2570 kilograms. Jaguar quotes a combined figure of 6.0L of dino juice for every 100 kilometres driven from the 66 litre tank, 5.6L/100 km on the highway and a still better than impressive 6.9L/100 around town.A Wheel Thing’s time with the F-Pave R-Sport coincided with a visit to the central west NSW town of Dubbo. Some 340 kilometres from AWT HQ, a country drive with four aboard and luggage seemed an ideal way to test the mettle of the Jaguar metal. The return was 7.3L per 100 kilometres, a fair result considering the cargo used. That also involved some necessary overtaking and it’s here where that torque comes into its own. It kicks in, as a peak figure, at just 2000 rpm, with something like ninety percent available at around 1600 rpm, and that’s about where legal highway speeds sees the engine’s revs. However, there’s some conditions here. The starting point is the eight speed auto the F-Pace has, then factor in choosing either Drive or Sports via the vertically rising dial in the centre console. THEN you have four drive modes including Dynamic Plus, accessed via two console toggle switches. Not only does it tighten up the suspension, the gearbox and engine settings are changed to provide a quicker response, a sharper response, a surge of warp speed response. It’s exhilarating and breath taking and makes for a far safer driving experience than a leisurely “I think I can” move.
It’s a well packaged car, the F-Pace, with an overall length of 4731 mm, with a wheelbase of 2874 mm. Front and rear track sit well inside the overall width of 2070 mm with 1641 mm and 1654 mm. Inside there’s plenty of usable room with front headroom at 1007 mm and rear heads get 977 mm. That cargo space has a nifty trick, with the floor on one said the standard interior carpet, but when rotated 180 degrees has a firm plastic surface for items such as scooters or bike.
The F-Pace also techs up with Adaptive Dynamics, which measures up to 500 times a second the driving style and body movement of the car You can then option up the Configurable Dynamics system, allowing a deeper measure of personalisation for gearbox changes, throttle mapping and steering feedback. Technology is a hallmark of Jaguar nowadays, with (optional) configurable mood lighting, keyless entry which includes waving a foot under the rear bumper to raise the powered tail gate leading to 508 litres of cargo, adaptive headlights, InControl Touch Pro (as fitted) which is a pair of widescreen oriented LCD screens at 12.3 inches for the multifunction driver’s screen and 10.2 inch console touchscreen which includes smartphone/tablet style pinch and move for the navigation.There’s famed British audiomaker Meridian onboard, with 825 watts of thumping audio along with digital radio, a CD/DVD drive, and 10 gb hard drive space for your tunes. Ahead of the driver is the (optionable) super clear, laser lit, Head Up Display, showing speed, speed zones, driven gear and even navigation. The laser tech makes it both easier to read and easier on the eye. Aircon is controlled either via the touchscreen or, smartly (and something a few other makers should take note of) via soft press tabs which are clear and beautifully legible.There’s a downside, though: the rear seat passengers get their own controls which, in the test car, seemed to control the front seats…and a major bugbear in that the superbly comfortable and looking sports style seats DON’T. HAVE. COOLING. Any and all Australian spec cars with leather seats should have ventilation. Even Renault’s Koleos Intens has ventilation. Also, the door, dash, and centre console plastics are hard, with nary a touch of give. Then there’s locating the seat’s memory buttons where, logically, the power window switches should go, and vice versa.The touchscreen has icons laid out across the bottom, allowing a quick access to a certain function, unlike manufacturers that have everything hidden inside a primary folder. It makes using the screen far easier. There’s also a screen for when you’re in full Dynamic, offering extra information such as a G-Force sensor and allows for more personalisation.Where the F-Pace R-Sport will win your heart is on the road. Let’s start with that number, 700. That torque figure makes driving in all dry conditions an absolute pleasure. Even with a light foot the torque simply reaches out and grabs the eight ratios by the neck, bending them to its need. It’s almost effortless, and wonderfully quiet inside the cabin, as the tacho swings around as does the speedometer. That’s in Eco and Normal modes. Gently push the selector down and clockwise into S, tap the drive mode button into Dynamic, sit back, press the go pedal, and feel your soul compress into a neutrino as the F-Pace gathers its thoughts for a nano-second before launching itself towards the horizon. Dynamic also firms up the steering and suspension, which has the effect of providing even more feedback and flattening the road further.Under normal conditions, the R-Sport is sure footed, adept, with each corner riding over road irregularities with minimal bodily intrusion. Sure, you’ll know what each wheel and tyre is doing, and you’ll feel the movement of the suspension as each corner works alone. Dynamic ups that feeling, with shorter travel yet an unexpected decrease in bumps and thumps. On the twisted and bent road surfaces west of Bathurst, this quality became invaluable and has an unexpected but very welcome side effect: it decreases the tiredness level of the driver. These same roads showed how well tuned the engineers have the car. Although sitting up high, as you do in an SUV, there’s no feeling of that, and you’ll feel confident in the way the car hangs on in long sweepers, unsettled and corrugated surfaces, and when the need is called for, how effective and quick the brake pedal tells you the pads are on the disc. All round, the F-Pace R-Sport stamps itself as a driver’s car.At The End Of The Drive.
The F-Pace has garnered acclaim and plaudits world wide, and with good reason. It’s a heavy-ish car, but superbly agile; the diesel is mutely powerful and will hasten the F-Pace along at indecent speed; and it’s beautiful to look at both inside and out. The technology on board is user friendly and non-confrontational, which is both appealing and amps the safety factor by not having eyes off the road for longer than neccessary.
What niggles there are, are just that. Niggles. It’s a comprehensive package and in R-Sport trim, provides a balance between economy, luxury, and room. The modern equivalent of Jaguar’s old calling phrase, perhaps?
For further information on the Jaguar F-Pace, go here: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace