Jaguar Leaps Into the Utility Segment

Jaguar’s first crossover offers more room and more versatility

The F-Pace is the Jaguar’s first crossover and I suspect it will become one of their most popular vehicles. Because the front end resembles the XF sedan, many folks knew immediately it was a Jaguar and asked questions about it during my week with it. That’s a good sign for Jaguar.

If it seems strange that Jaguar, a company known for performance cars, is building a crossover utility vehicle, consider this. Crossover utility vehicles are displacing sedans on the shopping list of many buyers, and the reason is simple: Utility vehicles are better at carrying people and things. Today’s crop of car-based SUVs drive more like cars than trucks, plus the taller seating position not only gives a better view of the road but also makes it easier to get in and out.

When Porsche first introduced the Cayenne in 2003 many thought surely it was a mistake for a sports-car company to build an SUV, but quite the contrary. The Cayenne proved to be popular, and its sales kept the company on a strong financial footing. The Cayenne is now in its second generation and has been joined by a medium-size SUV called the Macan, and it too is scoring strong sales.

European luxury brands are finding that if you’re going to be competitive in today’s market, you need an SUV, which is why Jaguar has the F-Pace, Bentley developed the Bentayga and Maserati has the Levant.

The F-Pace is available with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel or a supercharged 3.0-liter gasoline engine in 340-horsepower or 380-horsepower configurations. Base prices start at $40,990 for the diesel and range to $56,700 for the F-Pace S, the model I drove from Jaguar’s press fleet.

Jaguar_Rearview

The 380-horsepower of the F-Pace S is delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually if desired. The engine has crisp throttle response and pulls well at low speeds. Fuel economy is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway.

Jaguar_Interior2

The test car was equipped with four option packages that bumped the sticker price to $71,435.

•  The luxury interior package has four-zone climate control, a cooled glove box, suede cloth headliner and premium carpet mats.
•  The technology package has WiFi, a 10.2-inch touch screen with navigation and a TFT instrument screen with virtual dials.
•  The driver assistance package has a surround camera system, adaptive cruise control and park assist.
•  The comfort package has heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, electrically reclining rear
seats and a power tailgate that hands-free opening triggered by moving a foot under the corner of the bumper.

The 113.1-inch wheelbase puts the F-Pace’s size between a BMW X3 and X5. That size hits a sweet spot because it is large enough to have good cargo space yet small enough to be maneuverable in urban settings.

Jaguar_Interior

Even though the F-Pace has all-wheel drive, it is built on rear-drive chassis that is similar to the XE and XF sedans, including a body structure that is 80 percent aluminum. Compared to the sedans, it has more ground clearance, more suspension travel and more mass. No one expects a utility vehicle to handle quite as tightly as a sports sedan, but with a nearly ideal 50/50 weight distribution and an all-wheel-drive system that is biased toward the rear wheels, the F-Pace is agile and responsive.

Jaguar is branching out with the F-Pace, and I think it is a good move. A utility vehicle has more room, and more versatility, than a station wagon, and that makes it a better fit for the American market.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace
Engine: 3.0-liter, 380-horsepower V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
All-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Curb weight: 4,150 pounds
Base price: $56,700
As driven: $71,435
MPG rating: 18 in the city, 23 on the highway

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