Variant: R-Dynamic SE D300
Engine / Transmission: 3.0 turbo diesel – 8 speed automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7L/100km combined
Price: From $110355 drive away
In a nutshell:
It’s a sweet looker, but the options are eye watering.
I make no secret of the fact that I am not a fan of SUVs. Sedans and station wagons simply do a better job nearly all of the time, but this Jaguar F-Pace might just turn me yet. It looks stunning; the balance of lines and proportions is spot on.
Jaguar have really hung their hat on cutting edge tech and this F-Pace doesn’t disappoint. It is loaded. The 11.4” infotainment display is crystal clear, glare and fingerprint resistant, supports CarPlay and is controlled from the centre console, steering wheel or voice. The 12.3” dashboard display is configurable and while it has 3D navigation, it misses out on Audi’s superb collaboration with Google Earth. The Meridian branded sound system is also sweet as a nut and includes an active noise cancelling function.
The very best thing about the Jaguar’s tech fitout is so simple that I can’t fathom why more manufacturers don’t adopt it – the F-Pace infotainment system has its own power source. When you jump in the car the system is already powered up and connection to your phone is almost instantaneous. There is no need for the system to go through an extended set up process. Sounds simple, but it is devastatingly effective and shows again just how committed Jaguar are to nailing their in-car technology.
The F-Pace is, largely, beautifully built. The timber inlays (a $400 upgrade) are classy and the leather for the seats and trim is soft and thick. Little touches, such as the “Est. 1935 Jaguar Coventry” dashboard plaque are really nice. After all, isn’t that why we drive what we drive? Otherwise wouldn’t we all just drive Camrys?
The 3.0 litre six cylinder diesel engine is a gem, the boot is ample and the rear seats are comfy with space for tall passengers. The interior light switch demands the most gentle of touches and really shows how important it is to get the simple things right.
Another thing that the F-Pace excels in is lighting. The LED Pixel headlights are a $4700 option, but are worth every single cent. They are brilliant… er… literally! I do a lot of night driving and the Pixel system means that I experience high beam style lighting almost all of the time. It’s very clever and very, very good.
Not So Impressive:
Unfortunately, some of the interior finishes are annoying. While the window controls are some of the best in the business – thick, heavy aluminium switches – the ‘Park’ button feels flimsy and fragile. It is also in sharp contrast to the stitched leather gear shift.
Body control is also a mixed bag. For a high-riding SUV, the F-Pace is an accomplished handler, but the similarly priced Jaguar XE will show it a clean pair of heels on any sort of curvy road. Furthermore, despite Volkswagen’s Touareg being a chunk heavier and larger (and slightly more expensive, like for like), both the air suspended and steel spring suspended versions handle the curves better than the F-Pace. There is also a deadness to initial turn-in that blunts what should be razor sharp steering. It’s almost like Jaguar are sitting on the fence with the steering software and suspension tune.
I would love to see Jaguar have the confidence to really tap into their roots and produce an F-Pace that handles like an MX5. The Jaguar Mark II, built from 1959 to 1967, was exactly that – a comfortable, spacious sedan that went like the clappers and handled like a sports car. I suspect our American friends are to blame for the conservative blend of steering turn-in and body control. You can sharpen things up by selecting Dynamic Mode, ramping up damping rates and gear selection, but the side effect is a slightly brittle ride. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but is something to keep in mind on an extended test drive. On the engine front, the 3.0 litre six cylinder diesel is a monster and pulls like a train and probably does enough to overcome slightly wooly handling.
Unfortunately, the most disappointing aspect of buying an F-Pace will be the bitter taste left in your mouth by the eye wateringly expensive options. I seem to have found myself on a bit of a crusade in this regard, but I simply refuse to accept that some of these figures are acceptable without at least some degree of justification.
For example, I am fully willing to accept that metallic paint is more expensive to manufacture and apply than standard paint. In fact, I might even be willing to accept that $1890 is a reasonable cost for sparkles in my paint; however, I find the $2400 needed for sparkly grey a bit hard to swallow. At least it is cheaper than the $11050 Jaguar will charge you for SVO colours, such as British Racing Green or Ionian Silver.
I mean, that’s $11k extra for colour changing sparkles! The $1430 for black exterior trim seems completely reasonable. So too is the $390 that Jaguar asks to increase your wheel size from 19” to 20”, but then they go and charge $2480 for wireless charging (as part of a pack that includes a head up display and a fancy windscreen). Seriously? A Kia Picanto has wireless charging!
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
It’s a great car and I would have no hesitation in recommending the F-Pace to family and friends, but just make sure you check out Volkswagen’s Touareg as well, even if it’s just to rule out any later regrets.