2018 Jaguar F-Pace S Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Jaguar F-Pace S Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Jaguar F-Pace proved that Jaguar could do more than just build cars. The F-Pace is good to look at and good to drive.
2018 Jaguar F-Pace S
Price from $104,827+ORC Warranty three years, 100,000km Safety five start ANCAP Engine 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol Power 280kW at 6500rpm Torque 450Nm at 4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4731mm (L) 1936mm (W) 1652mm (H) 2874mm (WB) Ground Clearance 213mm Boot Space 505L Spare Space Saver (standard) Fuel Tank 63L Thirst 8.9L/100km
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IT’S PLAIN TO SEE that Jaguar borrowed large chunks of the F-Type when it crafted the F-Pace. And that was a deliberate move. See, and we probably all know the story, Jaguar didn’t want its first-ever SUV to be mistaken for something put together from a Land Rover parts bin. The aim with the F-Pace was to be a sports car driver’s SUV.
What is the Jaguar F-Pace?
Well, we’ve just given a quick first insight into why it looks the way it does. Grab a picture of the F-Type and hold it up while you’re looking at the F-Pace and you’ll see the LED tail-lights are almost identical as is the shape of the F-Pace’s rear haunches. Indeed, look at the F-Pace in profile and it almost looks like someone’s stretched and inflated the F-Type.
See, Jaguar wanted everyone around the world to be able to recognise the F-Pace as a Jaguar from 200 metres. Honest.
When speaking with journalists at its launch here in late 2016, the F-Pace’s designer, Ian Callum, said, “We designed the all-new F-Pace to be first and foremost a Jaguar. That’s why it has exciting proportions, a dynamic stance, pure surfaces and a beautiful sensuality about it. Its progressive, purposeful appearance has clearly been influenced by the F-Type.” More than this, the F-Pace also clings closely to the look of the C-X17 concept car.
Built off Jaguar Land Rover’s modular Lightweight Aluminium Architecture, the engineers could pull and poke the platform to ensure the thing offered the proportions, dynamics and practicality it wanted. Thus, the F-Pace is unique in terms of its wheelbase and track in the Jaguar family; it does share some suspension and front-end bits and bobs with the XE and XF.
Our test car, the F-Pace S AWD features an on-demand all-wheel drive system first designed for the F-Type but tweaked for the F-Pace. This means that in general driving, the F-Pace is rear-drive biased (only around 20% of torque is sent to the front axle) until the wheel, steering and suspension sensors constantly talking to the computers decide torque needs to be shuffled from front to back and side to side to keep the thing from sliding off the road.
And then, added to this is the Adaptive Surface Response (a cost-option) which is derived from Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and allows the F-Pace to determine the surface it’s driving across and tweak the stability control system accordingly, all with the driver doing nothing. And then, if the going becomes gnarly, and I’m not talking about rock hopping here, then Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control can be activated (operational between 3.6-30km/h) it controls throttle (which the driver sets via the cruise control) and the brakes, shuffling torque to the wheel(s) with the most grip and puling it away from those that have no grip or reduced grip. All the driver has to do is steer. Having used the system, I can say that it works very well…Land Rover uses a version of it where it acts like an off-road cruise control. Moving on.
Our F-Pace S runs the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol from the F-Type (280kW/450Nm) and lists from $104,827+ORC. Run through the spec sheet and almost all of Jaguar’s active safety items are standard (except for active lane keep and rear cross traffic alert), as are things like adaptive LED headlights, leather and seudecloth (not real suede) interior, and more. But as it arrived, our test car was fitted with a bunch of cost-optional items (and I’ll just pick some at random), like the top-spec Touch Pro Navigation system with its 10.2-inch screen and 12.3-inch HD virtual instrument cluster and Meridian sound system ($5280); rear seat comfort pack which includes climate control and more ($4470); a sliding panoramic roof ($4420); head-up display ($2650); Jaguar smart key system with keyless entry and start ($1890); and much, much more. In the end, with all its cost-options considered, our test car listed at $149,717+ORC.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not passing judgement on the cost of the thing, although I kind of am, because there are some things that you’ve got to pay extra for that I feel really should be standard. For instance, if you’re building an SUV which you claim to be practical then don’t charge extra for rear seat remote release levers ($120 – pictured below); these things are standard on all sorts of vehicles, like the Peugeot 308 Touring we tested recently…
And then there’s the DAB Radio – this is standard on a Hyundai i30 SR. And then there are some of the active safety features, like rear cross traffic alert which I also think should be standard and that’s because, as good as the cost-optional reversing camera with surround view is, rear cross traffic alert is a must for the F-Pace because the rear three-quarters (C-pillar) is a huge blindspot. And also because the rear cross traffic alert is easily one of the best on the market, reacting quickly with an excellent warning and the way the camera view switches between widescreen and normal is genius and the clarity, even at night, is excellent.
What’s the interior like?
This is one that I’ve got to take on face value. See, as discussed, our test car came with around $40k worth of extras, including many items that impacted on the look, feel and operation of the interior. So, just be aware that what I’m talking about here won’t be the same for you if you’re considering an F-Pace S and it doesn’t have the same cost options.
The interior of the F-Pace borrows very heavily from the dashboard design and layout of the Jaguar XE, which is no bad thing at all. It means there’s a sense of occasion, via design flourishes like the Riva-esque hoop that runs from the doors and around the base of the windscreen, that you don’t get in competitors. Sure, there’s a touch too much hard, scratchy plastic used on the interior for a car costing more than $100,000, but it’s fine-grained stuff and tucked away in places you’ll never touch.
In places you will touch, the plastics are all soft-touch with quality accents. Our car had a cost-optional interior lighting package and it’s absolutely something I wouldn’t ever pay for or want in my car. While my kids and other passengers I had in the car liked the glow, I found it reflected off the mirrors at night making it hard to see out of them. All the switchgear looks and feels great, although the indicator and windscreen wiper stalks are hidden behind the steering wheel, and the fact the headlights aren’t auto off is annoying.
There isn’t a huge amount of storage space in the front part of the cabin, and the glovebox seems too small for a vehicle of this size. And the same goes for the centre console which houses some outlets for USB and HDMI, there’s a 12v outlet at the base of the dashboard, and cupholders tucked behind the gear shifter.
Our test car had the top-spec infotainment fitted but the fact it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will annoy some. That said, the Bluetooth syncs quickly to your phone and the media streaming via USB was seamless. The system is feature rich and the navigation works well with clear warnings, although inputting an address and then selecting your preferred route can take a little getting used to. It’s almost as if there’s an extra feature or two that can you can touch inadvertently and be led you down a rabbit hole when simply trying to select ‘GO’. The idea of this system is that you’re meant to download the Jaguar InControl app that would undoubtedly help, but I didn’t do that. The screen offers the right amount of touch sensitivity and is wonderfully resistant to glare.
The seats are mounted low, although there’s plenty of adjustment, and that’s because the aim with the F-Pace is to give you that sports car sensation of sitting deep within the doings of the car. The leather trimmed seats are comfortable and grippy although the base initially feels a little too hard but this goes away after some miles under the wheels. The steering wheel offers reach and rake adjustment. Vision is good out of the front and sides, although the base of the A-pillar is thick, so extra care should be taken at junctions. And the C-pillar at the back is quite slabby too; and the wing mirrors are quite small, so the combination means you’ve got to make sure you’ve had a good look before moving into the next lane to overtake.
Over in the back, climbing up and over the scuff plate will be tricky for smaller children as it’s quite slippery, and the doors are quite heavy too. Once in the back, there’s a decent amount of room and while the middle seat isn’t contoured like the two outboards seats, it’s broad enough for an adult to sit in the space for shorter journeys although they’ll need to splay their legs apart. The two outboard seats re comfortable with good head, shoulder and leg room, though because of where the seatbelts are drawn from, fitting a booster seat can cause them to kink and lock. Our test car came with the rear comfort pack, which includes climate control for those in the back; this does obscure knee room for anyone sitting in the middle seat.
The rear seat head rests sit down snug on the seat shoulders when not in use, but when you raise them up they obscure vision out of the rear windscreen. There’s an armrest that folds down out of the seat back exposing through loading to the boot, or a gaping hole in the backseat depending on your point of view.
The boot offers 505 litres but grows to 1740 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Beneath the boot floor is a space-saver spare. You can get a full-size spare but you end up with a giant hump in the floor and reduced boot space as it was only designed to accommodate a space saver.
The shape of the boot is good and appears bigger than its 505 litres suggests; I particularly liked the fact you can flip the boot floor over; it was good to be able to place my soccer kit and half-a-dozen balls on the rubberised side of the floor and keep the carpet from becoming muddy.
What’s it like on the road?
It was hard to believe that the last time I drove an F-Pace was way back in 2016 and I hadn’t ever driven a variant with the 3.0-litre supercharged V6. This engine is shared with the F-Type and makes 280kW 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque at 4500rpm (non-S variants with this engine have a reduced power output of 250kW), this will get the F-Pace to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds which not all that long ago was considered eye-wateringly quick. Fuel consumptions is a claimed combined 8.9L/100km but our week with the thing saw us record 9.7L/100km which is pretty good for such a big, grunty beastie. The supercharged V6 is mated to a beefy eight-speed automatic transmission (other variants get a different eight-speed auto); the rotary shifter has a rubberised surface and there are paddle shifts for manual gear shifts.
Out onto the Practical Motoring road loop with its mix of highway, fast corners and tight twisting corkscrew section and even well-graded dirt and the F-Pace instantly impressed. The engine relishes being allowed to accelerate beyond 60km/h, below that it feels like a caged beast constantly fighting to be released.
The gearbox slips from ratio to ratio with barely any letup in thrust although on tighter corners there’s a slight pause while the transmission determines whether it should hold onto a gear or drop down a cog (and it can jump two gears at once if needed). It’s hair-splitting stuff and I only mention it because the thing is so good on the open road…use the paddles to shift yourself, the thing feels much better if driven like that. And, unlike some competitors, the F-Pace, in manual mode, won’t shift up automatically at redline. 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 me, Normal or Sport felt best.
For a vehicle weighing in at 1861kg, the F-Pace is surprisingly nimble on its feet, feeling like a much smaller car than it is, in corners. Jaguar has always been excellent at tuning suspension that blends comfort with performance, and the tune for the F-Pace S is no different. When you’re loping along, the suspension filters out the worst of the roads lumps and almost without you noticing; body roll is kept to a minimum through corners and the all-wheel drive system offers so much grip that you can get on the throttle early and hard.
The steering feels meaty and a little heavy around town but the weighting is perfect for the open road, and there’s just enough feedback through the wheel to keep you dialled into what’s going with the front end. The brakes are strong but the pedal feels dead.
As I mentioned, at around town speeds the F-Pace feels like a caged animal and, from a standing start it can feel a little lurchy. But, build up some speed and the thing smooths out and is absolutely one of the most comfortable cars to drive in the segment, perhaps even the most comfortable. That it offers such dynamic capability is an example of the dual personality that Jaguar Land Rover can engineer into its SUVs and some of its cars, too.
What about safety?
The Jaguar F-Pace was rated by ANCAP late last year and awarded a five-star rating. And that’s because it features the usual passive safety features like airbags and rain-sensing wipers and all-wheel drive, as well as a pedestrian-friendly bonnet (it raises to keep a pedestrian’s head from hitting the engine), autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Our test car, also featured lane keep assist, head-up display, rear cross traffic alert and a surround view camera. One oddity is that the front seatbelts aren’t height adjustable which is annoying if you’re a taller.
So, what do we think?
The F-Pace is Jaguar’s best-selling vehicle around the world, although that’s not totally hard to understand given how mad we all are for SUVs. Beyond that, the F-Pace is comfortable in the city, fun on the open road and is even capable of light off-road work as we’ve discovered in other reviews.