The Jaguar F-PACE has always been a sport utility with an abundance of attitude and, thankfully, recent updates have made this Brit an appealing choice in the segment. With the popularity of SUVs, it should be no surprise that the F-PACE is Jaguar’s best selling vehicle.
Sure, it’s tough pitting a British SUV against the competitive set of European and Japanese crossovers, but the F-Pace is true to the Jaguar brand and that makes it a decidedly unique sport utility.
With the Volvo XC60, you know you’re going to get that minimalist, Scandinavian design with its reputation for safety. With the German crossovers, you can pick your pleasure depending on your brand preferences and you know exactly what you’re getting with any BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz. While the Acura and Lexus offerings are appealing, those brands aren’t quite as exclusive as the historic Jaguar marque.
The F-PACE, on the other hand, is distinctly styled with a handsome design and easily recognized as a Jaguar. Inside, it’s comfortable, spacious, and finely finished. With this tester’s black trim and massive, 22-inch black wheels, it’s got the visual attitude to go along with its aggressive exhaust note.
It wasn’t that long ago that a Jaguar SUV was unfathomable, but the F-PACE has established itself as a legitimate player in the segment. This S model, with its supercharged V6 fits squarely in the middle of the F-PACE trim. There are diesel and gasoline four cylinders available, as well as the fully mad 550-horsepower supercharged V8 SVR model.
For 2019, the F-PACE has been modernized with the company’s latest infotainment unit. It’s a ten-inch screen that dominates the dashboard and the interface is thankfully straightforward. The new unit – Jaguar calls it Touch Pro – addresses the previous system’s dreadfully slow response time and the F-PACE is no longer playing catchup with the competition in this regard.
Since I travel too often to warmer climes, I couldn’t resist an invitation for a few days of snowboarding the same week I was scheduled to drive this refreshed F-PACE.
This test vehicle was equipped with the optional $3,570 22-inch wheels, which look fantastic, but don’t leave much tire sidewall to absorb the irregularities of the roads of a Canadian winter. Not standard equipment, the winter-spec Pirelli Scorpions combined with F-PACE’s excellent all-wheel drive system, giving it tremendous traction through a massive snowstorm and on hard-packed snow.
In regular conditions, the all-wheel drive system is rear-biased, sending all of the torque to the rear axle, which lends more sporting dynamics to the F-PACE, but when the system detects any slip, torque transfers to the front axle in less than a blink of an eye. To the driver, any delay is imperceptible.
Long a Jaguar-specific touch, the F-PACE’s heated windscreen (a bargain at $440) is absolutely perfect for Canadian climates, particularly during my few days behind the wheel. Morning temperatures hovered around minus 25 Celcius and when called upon, the heated windscreen quickly handled any accumulated snow and interior fogging. This is a feature that more automakers should adopt for its simple effectiveness.
In this S specification, there is plenty of performance to go along with its distinctive looks. While the top line number for this 3.0-litre, supercharged V6 is its 380 horsepower and that’s an impressive number of horses among the competitive set, its the respectable 332 lb-ft of torque makes cruising effortless. The engine’s operation is relaxed and never frantic, although the aggressive exhaust with its throaty rumble is incentive alone to bury your foot into the throttle when the mood strikes.
Unlike plenty of other SUVs, the F-PACE is enjoyable to pilot on mountain roads, steering confidently where pointed, with capable brakes. Unlike other sport utilities, the F-PACE’s brakes have excellent feel and modulation, which are pleasing to a brake pedal-fetishist like me. Overall, driving the F-PACE is more enjoyable and engaging than I’d imagined.
On the other hand, freeway driving can be simply described as relaxed for a couple of key reasons, but perhaps not the reasons you think. Yes, the cabin scores full marks across the board for spaciousness, comfort, quiet, and refinement. The design, use of materials, and the finishing of those materials make this a truly luxurious interior.
For modern long distance driving, a pilot’s stress level can be reduced by competent driver assist systems, which this F-PACE enjoys. Both the adaptive cruise control and steering assist of the $3,800 Driver Assist Pack option work nearly flawlessly, making the F-PACE a glutton for easy highway miles.
Despite its modest-for-today 1,800 kilogram curb weight and powerful engine, the F-PACE returned 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres in mostly highway and mountain road driving. Colour me impressed.
Among the range of mid-sized, luxury SUVs, it seems that all premium brands offer variations on a theme, but this F-PACE is one of the more distinctive choices. It’s full of character and attitude, true to the Jaguar brand, entirely satisfying to drive, and strays far enough from the norm to make the F-PACE an interesting buy.
2019 Jaguar F-PACE S
Base Price: $69,900
As Tested: $85,335, including $1,700 delivery
Drivetrain: 3.0-litre supercharged V6, 380 horsepower, 332 lb-ft, 8-speed automatic transmission
Performance: 11.3 litres per 100 km in mostly highway driving
The VVUZZ Verdict: If you’re looking for a mid-sized SUV with attitude, look no further than the F-PACE.
Images courtesy of the author and Jaguar.