McDonald’s is best known for hamburgers — inexpensive, nutritionally questionable foodstuffs you can grab without even getting out of your car. It’s the epitome of tawdry American convenience, gussied up with a slice of “cheese” and some ketchup.
Engine: Supercharged 3.0-liter V6
Power: 380 horsepower, 332 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 18 city, 23 highway, 20 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): Not yet available
US Price: $74,185 as-tested including $995 in delivery fees
CAN Price: S starts at $66,400
You’d never swing by the golden arches in search of a five-star meal; duck confit on a bed of baby spring vegetables with dried-cherry couscous just isn’t on the menu, even if you flash your Amex black card.
Like Mickey D’s, Jaguar is famous for one particular thing, though it has nothing to do with value menus or over-sized fountain drinks. This most British of automotive brands is known around the globe for its sultry sports cars and imposing sedans; defying industry trends for more than a decade, it’s never fielded a utility vehicle, until now.
2017 Jaguar F-Pace
Leading the charge into newfound territory is the 2017 F-Pace, something the company is billing as an all-season sports car with family-friendly practicality. That may sound like something of an on oxymoron, but against the odds, this Jaguar actually lives up to the hype.
Like the rest of its lineup, the F-Pace is constructed mostly of aluminum. In fact, about 80 percent of its core structure is comprised of this lightweight metal, a foundation it shares large portions of with the brand’s equally new XE sedan.
Aside from providing rigid and mass-efficient underpinnings, this body configuration also results in nearly perfect 50:50 weight distribution front to rear, a boon for driving dynamics.
Dimensionally, F-Pace competes in the luxury-crossover segment’s heart. With a wheelbase spanning a whisker more than 113 inches, it splits the difference between BMW’s popular X3 and X5 models. Overall width is a hair less than the X5, at just shy of 86 inches. As for cargo space, the Jag offers up 63.5 cubic feet of maximum volume, a skosh less than the big Bimmer but a little more than the smaller one; in short, it’s an in-betweener, a safe bet for a first offering in this hot-selling segment.
Like rival models, the F-Pace offers customers a range of engines from which to choose, two gasoline options and even a diesel.
The least muscular of these is the compression-ignition offering. Displacing 2.0 liters, it’s rated at a relatively modest 180 horsepower, but torque clocks in at a crushing 318 lb-ft. This engine is capable of hauling the F-Pace to mile-a-minute velocity in around 8.2 seconds, though curiously, official fuel economy information is not available at this time, which is sure to be one of its strong suits, because performance certainly won’t be.
Evaluating the diesel in Jaguar’s smaller XE sedan revealed that this engine is rather lethargic, especially at Colorado’s mile-high-and-beyond elevations. Somewhat making up for this, it’s incredibly refined, one of the smoothest oil-burners in the business.
Stepping up from here, you can opt for a supercharged gasoline V6, which is available in two potencies. The less-well-endowed version delivers 340 horses; the huskier option is good for an additional 40 on top of that. Curiously, despite the horsepower delta, torque is identical between these two offerings, measuring 332 lb-ft.
Stop-start is standard across the F-Pace range, something that dramatically improves efficiency by shutting the engine down while waiting at a red light or stopped in traffic. Accordingly, the F-Pace S we tested stickered at 18 miles per gallon city, 23 highway and 20 mpg combined, hardly stellar figures but not at all unexpected for the performance and utility this vehicle provides.
Despite these under-hood variables, there are at least two constants in the F-Pace. One, every model is equipped with a responsive ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. And two, all-wheel drive is standard across the range for enhanced driver confidence in a variety of weather conditions.
While traversing dry roads, 90 percent of available torque is sent to the rear wheels for a sporty, tail-happy feel, but this ratio can change in a brain synapse based on traction. In unfavorable situations, up to 90 percent of the twist can be routed forward.
Taking a moment for inward reflection, the F-Pace’s cockpit is cleanly designed and well thought out. It’s also spacious, comfortable and quiet while in motion.
Backseat space is quite generous in all three axes; two adult passengers should have nothing to complain about while sitting there, though the addition of a third rider might make things rather tight.
As for the front buckets, they’re supportive, well contoured and adjustable in nearly every meaningful direction, something that makes them nearly ideal for long-haul drives.
Higher-end models like the range-topping S variant I tested feature a surfeit of cut-and-sewn leather pieces. Contrast stitching furthers the F-Pace’s premium appearance. From design, assembly and materials standpoints, this vehicle’s cabin is class-competitive, though it’s not over-the-top luxurious.
Controls for the climate system reside at the lower portion of the center stack. This array of switches looks fairly plain, with minimal styling fanfare, but they’re dead simple to figure out and operate, which is welcome in the luxury segment, where ever-greater complexity and confusion is the norm. About the only misstep is the location of the power-window switches, which are awkwardly located on top of the door panels, while the door lock switches and seat memory buttons occupy a lower, more convenient position.
Focusing on infotainment technology, two different systems are available in the F-Pace. InControl Touch is the standard offering. It comes with a finger-friendly eight-inch display and comes with HD radio, along with Bluetooth and USB capability.
The up-level InControl Touch-Pro system features a gorgeous 10.2-inch widescreen display that supports multi-touch gestures. It’s relatively easy to use and responds swiftly to inputs from wandering digits. Opting for this system also gets you a 12.3-inch customizable digital instrument cluster along with an 825-Watt Meridian sound system.
Naturally, a full range of advanced driver-assistance technologies are available. The top-shelf S model comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, parking sensors and much more. Plenty of other juicy extras are also available including an around-view camera system, adaptive cruise control and even traffic-sign recognition, to name a few.
Threading this Jaguar through the twisting mountain roads of Colorado reveals that it knows how to have fun. Body roll, even while negotiating tight corners at speed, is negligible, the tires howling in protest long before the F-Pace flinches.
Its 380-horsepower V6 pulls with vigor at all speeds and elevations, even as far as Independence Pass, which crests some 12,000 feet above sea level, an elevation where the air is thinner than the foam in a regional-jet seat.
But quick acceleration and a smooth-shifting transmission are only part of the F-Pace’s driving experience. One of its best attributes is the exhaust note, which snarls loudly every time the accelerator is prodded with force. It’s unexpectedly sporty and makes rivals seem boring in comparison.
The steering is feel is extremely responsive, bringing to mind the brand’s F-Type sports car, which is an achievement for a crossover. It’s rapier-sharp on center with nice heft, though being electrically boosted it’s not quite telepathic; you don’t get a great sense of how much grip the front tires have.
The Verdict: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S Review
The addition of one crossover to its lineup probably won’t transform Jaguar from a second-tier luxury brand into a volume leader, but the F-Pace is an immensely likable product that’s well put-together and definitely worth checking out.
McDonald’s may have served “billions” of customers, but best-selling doesn’t automatically equate to segment leading. If you want a high-volume commodity like the X5, Audi Q7 or Lexus RX that’s fine; untold thousands of these ply subdivisions and Whole Foods parking lots across the country. But if you crave something a little different, try the Jag.
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