What we're driving: Jaguar F-Pace 35t R-Sport

  • 23-Oct-2017 12:20 EDT
Fpace f34.jpg

Jaguar's first-ever crossover is recognizable as a Jag and delivers dynamics that live up to the brand's reputation, too (image: Bill Visnic).

Considering the brazen pricetags some “luxury” vehicles bring to market these days, I’d suggest this F-Pace’s as-tested price of $62,280 could be judged almost a bargain. No turbocharged four-cylinder wannabe here—Jaguar delivers a chesty, 340-hp (254-kW) V6, take-charge sheetmetal on a husky stance and a satisfying blend of premium old-school hardware and new-tech features.

Dynamically, the F-Pace 35t R-Sport is one of the most genuinely “sporty” luxury crossovers you’ll drive. The ride’s thumpy on the 20-in alloys and the steering is twitchy—too quick a ratio or just overboosted?—and I think the initial turn-in elicits a too-abrupt body-roll reaction. But the F-Pace certainly has an aggressive-enough handling repertoire to leave most luxury CUVs eating its dust.

I can’t explain the “35t” nomenclature for a 3.0-L supercharged V6, but the F-Pace engine’s always ready to throw itself at you like a carnival-game barker; throttle response is almost too abrupt, even in normal mode, let alone “sport,” and indulging in all the throttle pedal will cause conversing passengers to stop mid-sentence to determine what emergency has summoned such thrust. The F-Pace has superb high-speed cruising ability and the power to match its chassis, but the entire powertrain—even the generally fantastic 8-speed automatic transmission— seems to be missing that last 5% of refinement. Maybe Jag developers wanted it that way?

Infotainment leans towards the German aesthetic of making it all a bit too complicated. Set a radio preset? Still haven’t a clue. There’s a gorgeous, oversized 10-inch touchscreen that comes with the $3200 Technology Package, yet certain icons (such as for Sirius channels) are inscrutably tiny. The overall impression, however, is that the F-Pace interior lives up to the luxury quotient expected of the Jaguar nameplate: the 14-way front seats are a treat, there’s nary a visible piece of cost-cut material and it’s all assembled with noticeable precision.

There’s a price to pay for the F-Pace’s wickedly back-swept roofline, though. Those in the rear seats feel low in the chassis and low in relation to the beltline, almost the opposite of the “theater” placement of other SUVs that impart rear occupants with more satisfying outward vision, particularly forward. In the back seat of the F-Pace, your panorama essentially is the back of the front seats.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t R-Sport

  • Base price:         $56,300
  • As tested:           $62,280
  • Highs:                Athletic engine and chassis; quality interior; surprising value
  • Lows:                 Twitchy steering; dungeon-like rear seats
  • The takeaway:    Delivers what’s expected from a Jaguar crossover

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