2017 Jaguar F-Pace S Review

Having by now grown accustomed to sporting-oriented luxury marques offering SUVs, rather than the “Why?” with which the models from Porsche and BMW were greeted, the Jaguar F-Pace was met with a “How?” As in, how well would the traditional Jaguar values translate to a sport utility platform? After spending a week with the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S we can report they do so with considerable success—on most fronts.

In terms of styling, the F-Pace embodies Jaguar’s gently curvilinear styling language quite successfully. We really like the understated look. Intriguingly, it stands out — by not standing out. The gloss black exterior trim of our S-trimmed F-Pace contributed to this in a very generous fashion, toning the image down just enough to avoid superfluous flash.

Jaguar F-Pace Performance

Meanwhile, the powerful rear haunches, integral to the look of every contemporary Jaguar, translate well to the SUV profile, as does the cat’s eye headlight treatment and the oversized grille. Poised confidently over its tires and wheels, the F-Pace looks well planted, rather than balanced on its tippy toes like so many other vehicles in this category.

Inside our test car, the treatment is all Jaguar all the time, nicely encapsulating the blend of luxury and sport for which the brand is renowned. Instrumentation is crisp, legible and thoroughly contemporary in appearance, while solidly reflecting the traditional Jaguar values. Amplifying the plush factor is an Alcantara headliner accompanying the supple leather adorning nearly every surface that isn’t wood or aluminum. The handsome multi-adjustable sport seats for both the driver and the front passenger offer heat and ventilation. The rear seat is also heated and the seatbacks power recline individually.

Step-in height is easy, door openings are suitably large and there is more than adequate head- and shoulder room at all seating positions. Front seat passengers enjoyed good legroom and the driving position is just about perfect. Rear seat passengers might find outward visibility somewhat obscured and legroom, while adequate, can’t really be classified as generous. Still, it’s comfortable over long-ish trips. Cargo capacity, at 33.5 cubic feet is outstanding and we really appreciate the motion-activated power liftgate.

Speaking of power, the 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 delivers outstanding performance, despite the relatively heavy 4000+-pound curb weight. The engine pulls strongly, never seems to run out of legs and sounds absolutely glorious when driven with brio. The eight-speed automatic shifts crisply in the automatic mode and gear changes are nearly instantaneous in the manual mode. All-wheel drive is standard. As has become de rigueur for the more aggressive Jaguar models, the dramatic snaps, crackles and pops of the engine on overrun will have you driving around town in first and second gear just for the thrill of hearing it.

For a truly eye opening experience however, find a winding rural road and give the F-Pace S its head. You’ll be astounded at the agility with which this Jaguar corners. We know it sounds cliché, but this SUV really does handle like a sports car. Body roll is minimal, turn-in is crisp, grip seems never-ending and the brakes are positively resolute in their performance. The overall balance exhibited by the F-Pace S is quite extraordinary. If you like to drive, you’re going to love driving this Jaguar.

OK, that’s all the good stuff.

If you’ll recall though, we said the F-Pace is a considerable success — on most fronts.

This is because the F-Pace S demands an onerous tradeoff between ride and handling. Granted, our test car wore low profile tires on 22-inch wheels, so a degree of harshness is to be expected. But this is the stiffest-legged Jaguar we’ve ever driven. Even when we set the drive mode selector to “Eco”, ride quality was exceptionally hard. Given all of the F-Pace ‘s virtues, those who love to drive will likely accept this in exchange for the amazing handling, but we’ve a feeling the general demographic for prestige SUVs will find this somewhat disconcerting.

Here, it should be noted, we’ve only driven the high performance S version of the F-Pace. There’s a very real possibility the standard models have more compliant suspension systems. We spoke with a Jaguar representative about this and they did assure us the standard model rides more softly. With all due respect though, we’re reserving judgment until we’ve experienced it for ourselves.

Other than that, all we have is love for this newest addition to the Jaguar lineup.

Pricing for the F-Pace S starts at $57,700, while the standard F-Pace starts at $41,990.