2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport review
Robert Pepper’s 2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: A mid-sized upmarket SUV from a famed sportscar maker, with perhaps some input from their friends at Land Rover. That’s a combination that approaches the best of both worlds.
2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport 20d
Pricing $80,044 plus onroad costs Warranty Three-years, 100,000 kilometre; Safety: no ANCAP rating Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 132kW at 4000rpm Torque 430Nm at 1750-2500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive all-wheel-drive with rear-wheel-drive bias Dimensions 4731mm (L); 2070mm (W); 1652 mm (H) Ground clearance 213mm Boot space 508 litres Seats Five Turning circle 11.9m Tare weight 1775kg GVM 2460kg Payload 685kg Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 5.3L/100km 0-100km/h 8.7 seconds Top speed 208km/h Towing 2400kg braked, 175kg TBM GCM 2460kg Spare space saver, full-size optional
What is it?
The F-PACE is Jaguar’s new, and so far only SUV. As befits a Jaguar, it’s priced, designed and specified to compete at the premium end of the market. But does the world need another luxury SUV, when we have the likes BMW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, the newly released Maserati Levante and even sister company Land Rover all offering a wide range of vehicles? That’s what we’re here to answer.
You can’t accuse Jaguar of not offering choice. There are five F-PACE models; Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport, S and First Edition ranging from $74,340 to $120,415 plus onroads. No, I don’t follow the naming convention either. As of about March this year there’s going to be five engines; three diesel and two petrol, plus a wide range of options.
Our tester is the 2.0L turbo-diesel R-Sport for $80,044 plus onroads and we had the car for a week over which we covered about 2300km – all the usual around-town errands, plus two six-hour drives to and from Mildura to Melbourne, and then a trip right through Victorian desert country – the Wyperfeld and Murray-Sunset National Parks.
To put the F-PACE into perspective, it is 4731mm long, compared to 4880mm for the BMW X5, 4850mm for the Range Rover Sport and 4855mm for the Porsche Cayenne, so it’s a size down from those cars, more comparable to the BMW X3 at 4657mm and the Porsche Macan at 4697mm.
What do we think of the look?
Jaguar designed the sort of car that adorns the bedroom walls of small boys with the F-TYPE, but haven’t managed the same trick with the F-PACE. Maybe that’s intentional, toning it down a touch for the more staid SUV market? Who knows. It’s certainly not setting the sort of standard we saw in the Range Rover Evoque, but it’s not a bad looker.
There’s definite resemblances to the F-TYPE, for example around the front and rear lights, and that does the car no harm at all.
What’s it like inside?
Given the competition, the front of the car is a bit of a disappointment. You want your interiors to be one or both of either stylish or practical, preferably both, yet the F-PACE doesn’t excel at either.
The glovebox is small, as is the centre console. There’s no cubby hole up front for phone or other small-item storage, and what there is gets in the way of the dial shifter for the gears. There’s just one 12v socket and one USB in the console. There are small storage slots either side of the centre console, but they’re not really all that usable. Several of the controls use tiny little orange LEDs to show their operation, but they’re very hard to see in bright sunlight, particularly when you’re wearing sunnies.
All this would be more forgivable if the thing looked like a six-star hotel, but it doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with the design but there’s no sense of ambience as you’d find in say an Audi or a Mercedes, nor the useful livability of say the current model Discovery. There’s pretty much just grey and silver, no particular use of colour. A Jaguar badge on the steering wheel does not a style icon make.
Moving into the second row and things improve. Here we have more USBs and 12vs, so the modern child will be quietly happy, and the dual rear seatpockets are nets so you can see what’s in them. The rear seatback is a 40:20:40 split, each of which can fold down but not completely flat. That’s good as most vehicles like this are just a plain 40:60 split. The rear seats are comfortable and spacious, especially compared to the competition but, as usual, the middle row is less so and there’s the transmission tunnel to contend with.
Into the 508L boot and things continue to get better. There are four strong tie-down points that are very well positioned and lie flush to the floor. There is more than adequate lighting, and a folding parcel shelf up top. The boot is electric and there’s a gesture opening option which was fitted to our car, although on the right side of the vehicle. It also opens when you wash the car with a high-pressure spray… you can guess how I know this. In fairness, I later noticed that this issue is also mentioned in the owner’s handbook too. Still, disaster averted and I managed not to clean the inside of the Jaguar with a high-pressure spray.
The boot floor is level if you use the space-saver spare, but if you run a full-size spare then a bit of loadspace is lost. A worthwhile tradeoff for anyone doing rural or long-distance driving.
After five days of living out of the car the verdict is that it’s quite acceptable, and just needs a bit more attention to the front for practicality and style to be up there with the best.
Click any image to start the F-PACE interior and exterior photo gallery.
What’s the infotainment system like?
The infotainment system on our tester is InControl Touch, but higher spec models get InControl Touch Pro. Our car’s system offers the usual navigation and radio functions but not a lot else. There’s not much on fuel consumption, any interesting apps or special features, but the system is easy to use and responsive to the touch.
A good design feature is the use of physical buttons on the right hand side for function shortcuts such as navigation, music and phone. These are easier to operate than a touchscreen and they’re always available. An unusual feature is that the rear view camera can be turned on at any time and stays on even at high speed.
The central dash display is clear but a bit basic. There’s a good trip summary, and it’ll display navigation prompts. It also looks and feels integrated with the main display, not something every vehicle can offer.
Performance, ride and handling
The F-PACE pretty much follows the conventional SUV design. There’s independent suspension with coils front and rear, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. However, there are a couple of notable differences to most SUVs.
At the lower end of the SUV market most SUVs are on-demand all-wheel-drive. This means they drive the front wheels and only bring the rear wheels into play when traction is lost on the front wheels. This design is adopted mostly for reasons of fuel efficiency, but also because many SUVs are based on front-drive roadcar platforms. A notable exception is Subaru with their symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.
At the top end of the SUV market things change. Most of the vehicles at that level – Range Rover Sport, BMW – use a drive system that equally drives all four wheels, all the time. Audi, notably, is now moving to a sophisticated front-drive-demand system, and Mercedes is already there for its roadcars as seen in the AMG A45.
For the F-PACE Jaguar have used an on-demand system… but it’s rear-drive biased, not front-drive biased. The name is IDD, or Intelligent Driveline Dynamics. In fact, there are rear-drive only manual transmission F-PACEs available in other countries. This rear-drive design approach has benefits on and offroad, as we explore below. Like all modern systems, the F-PACE will change the front/rear distribution of torque, for example if oversteer is detected it can bias torque to the front.
The F-PACE has a few driving modes; Normal, Sport and Dynamic. Each of these remap the throttle response, stability control programme and gearshift points.
For offroad use there is ASPC, or All Surface Progress Control. This is one of those systems that can be used to drive the car across all surfaces at a set speed between 3.6 and 30km/h, up or downhill without the driver needing to touch either of the pedals. The equivalent Land Rover system is All Terrain Progress Control, and in Toyota it’s Crawl Control.
There’s also LFL, or Low Friction Launch. Jaguar say this function “uses a very progressive throttle map” for, well, low-friction launches.
The F-PACE also has what Jaguar claim is torque vectoring, which they do honestly refer to as torque vectoring by braking in some of their literature. This is simply braking the inner wheels on corner entry to achieve a more neutral cornering line. Jaguar is just the latest manufacturer to misuse the concept of torque vectoring which should properly refer to actual differences of torque across an axle. However, Jaguar’s system also works at slow speed – the company says it even works when driving on mud or snow, although a close examination of rear wheels during tight turning didn’t reveal any extra braking. Toyota has a similar system with the LC200, but that’s manually activated and is only for offroad use.
Jaguar say the F-PACE’s tyres are the largest diameter in class at 255/55/19, which is about 770mm (30.3 inches), same as the Land Rover Discovery. Larger diameter wheels are better for rougher surfaces, and as Jaguar say, increased tyre sidewall height offers a little bit more protection from gutter rash. The tall tyres also help to provide the 213mm of ground clearance, which is close to that of a low-range 4WD vehicle and impressive for this class of vehicle. Wading depth is 525mm thanks to high up electronics, and again that’s impressive as such figures are not normally quoted for vehicles of this nature.
The diesel runs the now-common DEF (diesel emissions fluid) system, otherwise known as AdBlue.
The transmission is an eight-speed ZF unit, the 8HP45 in lower-powered vehicles such as our 20D, and the 8HP70 in more powerful vehicles. Suspension is monotube damper, and steering is electric not hydraulic.
Around town: The F-PACE is an easy drive around town thanks to decent all-round visibility, a good turning circle, firm but comfortable ride and a fairly responsive engine. However, like most vehicles with stop/start technology it can get caught at the lights, but it’s easy to disable the stop/start by pressing a button. Traction is never an issue thanks to the all-wheel-drive system, and of course being an SUV clearance isn’t a concern either. The reversing camera is above average quality and has switchable guidelines.
There’s keyless entry which operates on all four doors, and our tester had an optional $640 wristband entry system called Activity Key. You can leave the main car key in the car, and lock the car using the wristband by holding it close to the J on the Jaguar nameplate at the back. If someone breaks into the car they can’t start it without the wristband. I tested this function and it works, but I did leave the driver’s window down just in case. Perhaps that’s why the test also included the alarm which my neighbours in the next street tell me is effective. I think that wristband thing is a bit of a gimmick for most people as it’s only really for solo people who do watersports…but if that’s your thing it’d be useful.
Open roads: Open roads are what the F-PACE seems to be built for. The chassis can clearly handle a lot more than the 2.0L turbo-diesel can deliver, so you need to decide whether you like working a car that can do with extra power or sit there being frustrated by wishing you had more. While I’ve never met a kilowatt I didn’t like, I’m in the former camp, as it’s always better to run out of ambition before talent and that’s as true of cars as it is of people. The 2.0L turbo-diesel certainly isn’t underpowered from a get-you-there perspective, but as a sporting vehicle it needs a bit more. And there’s no soundtrack of note, no F-TYPE roar. I think a little bit more theatre – real not synthetic – would be a nice touch.
So, the handling. The Jaguar turns in nicely, tracks through the corner and powers out, best the little diesel can manage. There’s no torque steer, no running wide, no unpredictability. Rapid progress can be made, and the car’s above-average precision for an SUV makes it rewarding. However, like most SUVs, you’re not going to get to play with techniques like mid-corner adjustability on throttle…the dynamics don’t extend to that sort of playfulness, at least on public roads.
The gearbox has the usual three modes; normal, sport and manual only by paddleshifts. In its Sport and Normal modes it will change up at redline, but combine Sport mode on the gearbox and Dynamic mode on the car and it will hang at redline, not changing up automatically. I like that. The Dynamic mode doesn’t make much difference, but it helps a bit with the gearshifting, but even so you will need to operate the paddleshifts if you drive with verve as the gearbox will not keep up.
In cruise the F-PACE is comfortable and easy. There’s more than sufficient power to overtake lesser vehicles at speed on steep hills without the engine or transmission becoming bothered. The cruise control is effective but can only be set in 2km/h intervals – clearly no Australians were involved in the design – but it is good there is a digital readout to tell you what speed you’ve set it to. There’s also a digital speedometer.
We recorded fuel consumption for the trip:
- 568km, 39L, 6.9L/100km, rural cruising, six-hour drive, loaded;
- 198km, 12.69L, 6.4L/100km, rural cruising, loaded;
- 370km, 40.8L, 11.0L/100km, low-speed offroad work, sandy tracks with lower tyre pressures;
- 163km. 16.78L, 10.3L/100km, low-speed offroad work, sandy tracks with lower tyre pressures, 100km road cruise; and
- 629km, 44.62L, 7.1L/100km, rural cruising, loaded, high speed dirt roads.
The F-PACE was pretty well loaded but still returned better than 7.1 on bitumen road cruise. That’s pretty fuel efficient. The fuel tank is 60L (usable, not total), so averaging the fuel consumption above, range is around 720km in the conditions we were driving and more like 900km if you keep off sandy 4WD tracks.
Rural travelers should note that the fuel filler is too small for a high-flow diesel pump, so you’ll need to carry an adapter or funnel. Sometimes high-flows are all you can find at the more remote servos.
Dirt roads: The F-PACE is above average on dirt roads. The handling is assured, and it’ll even deal with reasonably large potholes without getting scared. The stability control is not intrusive and the chassis is such that it never needs to do much anyway. The ‘off’ switch doesn’t totally disable it, but desensitizes it to the point when for all reasonable purposes it may as well be off.
There’s good traction out of corrugated corners and plenty of power. On surfaces where you need to constantly change speed even on straights the auto can lag a bit behind the action, but it’s improved in Dynamic mode or you can manually shift. With stability control off and a manual shift the car becomes positively playful, although the suspension would need a bit more suppleness before I can use the “rally car” cliche. Still a lot of fun though, and it has the assured handling you want for long, high speed dirt road cruising.
Offroad: Now for the offroad, and this may come as a surprise but I’m happy to report the F-PACE does possess actual offroad capability. Yes, it lacks the angles to do much in the way of rocks and really rutted ground, but there is sufficient clearance – 213mm – for outback, and many touring 4WD tracks.
Once out into the desert the F-PACE’s strengths became apparent. First, gearing. With eight speeds first gear can afford to be quite low, yet leave top gear revving the engine comfortably less than 2000rpm at 110km/h. It also means that second and third gears are quite low, and so we found the F-PACE can lug along at 30km/h in third gear even on soft surfaces. That’s good for fuel efficiency, and it means a lack of wheelspin too. In fact, no sand dune we tackled required use of first gear, only second.
The gearbox also obeys commands. Sounds strange, but some “manual” gearboxes respond to commands like a distracted cat. Not so the Jaguar, which like all JLR products, does its very best to obey the gearshift command. That’s excellent in general and particularly so for offroading. It is also possible to disable stability control and engine traction control, yet leave brake traction control operating. In other words, the electronics let the car get a bit sideways yet do not restrict your throttle or apply the brakes. All they do is stop a wheel spinning, and that’s exactly what you want offroad, and especially so in sand.
Then we have the tyres:
These are relatively tall 19-inch tyres, and importantly, they are XL, or Extra Load, so a bit tougher than the standard tyre fitted to cars like this. This is an excellent choice for rural folk who want a tougher than average tyre, or for those who wish to venture off the beaten path, and that choice of rubber stands in stark contrast to the thin, fragile, high-speed tyres used by most of competition. An excellent choice by Jaguar. I’m sure that a back-to-back test on a racetrack would show that these tyres are not very good at hotlapping, but in the real world on public roads you won’t notice the difference.
Then we come to All Surface Progress Control:
When initially activated it works only as an electronic hill descent system, but set a speed and it’ll maintain speed uphill as well. A useful addition to the vehicle, but I preferred to drive it myself, and the low-speed throttle control is pretty good. The descent system would definitely be handy for slippery downhills though, regardless of driver experience and skill as the F-PACE lacks low range. Even if it had low range I’d still want such a system as modern versions are very good.
So it may be surprising, but this luxury SUV had absolutely no trouble at all traversing any section of the Victorian desert we drove through. In fact, I’d be quite comfortable driving one across the Simpson or pretty much any other sandy Australian desert. It really is very good indeed, and returned an impressive 11-12L/100km in the process. It is also capable of driving across ruts with wheels in the air, and can handle steep hills. In short, the car does have actual offroad capability even if it is no Range Rover Sport, although I would put it ahead of the Evoque. And never once did it complain. We drove it up and down the biggest dune we could find, with a full camping load, and lesser cars would have overheated transmission components or some such. The F-PACE just kept on working.
Towing: The F-PACE is good for a braked 2400kg towing capacity which is about average for a vehicle of this size, but a 175kg towball mass is too little for the Australian market and a 2400kg trailer, so the effective trailer size is more like 2000kg. Payload is excellent at around 700kg.
What about the safety features?
The F-PACE hasn’t been ANCAP or EuroNCAP tested, as is often the way with the more expensive vehicles. It has all the basic safety features, and as standard offers a pedestrian friendly bonnet, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing camera, AEB and lane departure warning. Options include lane keep assist and blind spot detection.
There are also standard front and rear parking sensors. There are three child restraint points sensibly located in the rear of the seatbase, and two ISOFIX points. Oddly, the front seatbelts are not height-adjustable.
A spare wheel should be viewed as a safety item, so here’s what a full-sized spare cover looks like:
Pricing and Range
Below, is the F-PACE range with significant features for each model – which means no colour/trim changes – and pricing exclusive of on-road costs. And just as we were about to publish Jaguar came out with changes which we’ve marked in italics.
The engines are:
- 20d – 2.0L diesel – 132kW / 430Nm – available in AWD now and RWD models soon;
- 25d diesel 177kW / 500Nm;
- 30d – 3.0L diesel – 221kW / 700Nm;
- 2.0 turbo petrol – 184kW / 365Nm – available in AWD now and RWD models soon; and
- 35t – 3.0L petrol – 250kW / 450Nm.
Prestige – 20d $74,340 / 30d $84,544 / 35t, $83,745
- 19″ wheels
- Torque Vectoring by Braking
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Lane Departure Warning
- All Surface Progress Control (ASPC)
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- Powered Tailgate
- Headlights – Bi-function Xenon with LED ‘J’ blade Daytime Running Lights
- 10×10 electric front seats with memory, 4-way electric lumbar adjust
- Split fold rear seat – 40:20:40
- Manually adjustable steering column
- InControl Touch (SD) Navigation – with 8″ touchscreen
- Jaguar Smart Key System – Keyless starting
- Front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera
- Space saver spare
R-Sport – Key Features (in addition to Prestige) – available in 20d $80,044 / 30d $84,544 / 35t $83,745
- Configurable Dynamics (includes settings for throttle response, steering response, gear shifts)
Portfolio – Key Features (in addition to Prestige) – available in 30d $91,304 / 35t $90,515
- Various trim enhancements
S – Key Features (in addition to Prestige) – available in 3.0d $117,164 / 3.0V6 SC $120,415
- 20″ wheels
- Adaptive Dynamics (computer-controlled suspension)
FIRST EDITION – Key Features (in addition to S) – available in 3.0d / 3.0V6 SC (280kW)
- 22″ wheels
- Sliding Panoramic Roof
- Roof rails
- Electrically reclining rear seats
- Configurable interior mood lighting
- Loadspace storage rails
- 12.3″ HD virtual instrument display
- InControl Touch Pro (SSD) Navigation – 10″ touchscreen, 60GB Solid State Drive
Once you strip away all of the gloss this, veneer that and satin whatever else we’re left with the raw specifications and as usual the lower specification models do tend to look rather good. The Configurable Dynamics in the R-Sport is not, I would suggest, worth the $6000 or so above the Prestige, and the Portfolio offers nothing but different trim. The Adaptive Dynamics system is electronically controlled suspension that hardens and softens according to what the car is doing, the driving style and the selected mode. I’ve not tested it, but there’s nothing wrong with the F-PACE’s suspension as it is so it’d need to be a better system than any other I’ve tested to make the extra outlay worthwhile.
It is only once you look at the First Edition that there’s significant features beyond Prestige. You can read Isaac Bober’s detailed review of InControl Touch Pro and decide if it’s worth the outlay.
My usual recommendation with premium vehicles of this nature is to buy the base model and option it up with what really appeals to you, and that applies here too. Here’s a sample of some options:
- Practicality Pack – rear seat release levers, gesture tailgate, loadspace net, cooled glovebox and Smart Key – $3600.
- Rear seat comfort pack – heated/cooled rear seats – $4250
- Surround camera – $2050
- Blind spot and reverse traffic – $1120
- Heated steering wheel – $500
- Configurable Dynamics – $290
- Adaptive Dynamics – $2530
- Full size spare – $1000
- Adaptive cruise – $3200
- Heated front seats – $800
- Sunroof – $4200
- LED headlights – $3600
- Delete powertrain badging – no cost.
Some very useful additions there. Remember that as usual you need to pay for most colours; standard colours are white, black, blue or gold. Our tester’s red is $1800 extra.
In March 2017 Jaguar expect to release updated specifications to go with the two new editions. Exactly what that will be, and pricing, remains to be seen however the following will either be options or standard:
- Dual view screen – one screen, shows two different images to driver and passenger depending on viewing angle.
- Forward traffic detect – detects things passing ahead of the vehicle and provides a visual warning. Part of the surround camera system.
- Forward vehicle guidance – kind of like a reversing camera but at the front; displays a camera view ahead with wheel alignment guides.
Why would you buy one?
There are very clear reasons to buy an F-PACE. If you like the idea of an SUV but want something more upmarket than say a $40-$50,000 vehicle – a better drive, more powerful, more upmarket interior and more capability – then you won’t be disappointed with the refinement and capability of the F-PACE. So now we’re into that price bracket let’s look at its competitors.
Anything from BMW will drive at least as nicely onroad if not better, and BMW know how to build a good drivetrain. Unfortunately, their vehicles lack clearance and rely mostly on run-flat tyres so the Jaguar is ahead on real-world practicality. Same sort of deal for Audi, but I’d put the F-PACE ahead on handling.
You should consider the F-PACE if you want a premium SUV that is at home in the city, but also capable of safely traveling rural roads and even some light to medium offroad work. The tyres, dirt and offroad handling and option for a full-sized spare all make this vehicle a better choice for those who live away from the city. And if you are a city dweller, then there’s reasons to buy it. Handling would be one, the relative rarity another, and the interior from the second row backwards is the other.
- The Accidental Offroader
- Preparing for a desert trip with the F-PACE
- The SUV is the new grand tourer
- F-PACE launch review
- InControl Touch Pro review
We will also publish a pictorial diary of the F-PACE’s trip across Victoria soon.
Want more F-PACE? A usual with cool cars, there is an Owner’s Forum.