Seat Time: The SUV That Wasn’t Supposed To Be

June 17th, 2016 at 12:37pm

Jag_F-PACE_Drives_Montenegro_280416_03_LowRes

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Vehicle: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Final Impression:

Jag_F-PACE_Drives_ItalianRacingRed_2.0D_R_Sport_280416_18_LowRes

It’s the SUV that wasn’t supposed to be. The strategy at Jaguar Land Rover was always to have Jaguar build and sell passenger cars, while Land Rover devoted itself exclusively to SUVs. In theory, a perfect combination of brands. But then the world changed.

In the greatest market shift in the history of the auto industry, droves of customers are abandoning passenger cars in favor of crossovers and SUVs. It’s a transition that affects the market from low-price to luxury. And most intriguingly of all, it’s a global phenomenon.

This is no fad. It’s a long term trend. And it finally dawned on Jaguar that it better abandon its passenger-car only strategy or be permanently relegated to the sidelines. Hence, the F-Pace.

As SUVs go, it doesn’t break any new ground. But it’s a solid, competent vehicle that’s going to satisfy a lot of customers. For those with a passion for the brand the F-Pace checks all the boxes. Handsomely athletic styling? Check. Inviting interior that wraps you in leather? Check. Ample power with great road grip? Check.

And for those premium SUV owners who have never considered a Jaguar before it offers a choice to arrive in style yet stand apart from what everyone else is driving.

Jag_FPACE_TDV6_Turbocharged_Engine_Tech_Image_140915_08_LowRes

The F-Pace has good bones. Its aluminum structure is derived from the same architecture as the new XE sedan, and pretty much shares the same powertrains. In the US market the engine choices—for now—include a 2.0 turbo diesel and a 3.0 supercharged gasoline V6. In other markets Jaguar also offers a 2.0 turbo gasoline engine. But for CAFE reasons it opted to launch F-Pace with the diesel. And there’s good logic to that. In my heavy footed driving at high altitudes in the Colorado Rockies the readout read 31 miles per gallon. For a vehicle like this that’s a terrific number.

But there’s been another change in the market. Ever since VW’s diesel emission scandal, sales of diesel engines in passenger vehicles have been declining. Nowadays a diesel engine is a hard sell. Moreover this diesel has a bit of a drone at idle and low speeds, and can get kind of clackety under three-quarter throttle at low to medium speeds. Jaguar is targeting women buyers with the F-Pace and this is probably not the engine that’s going to appeal to them. The faster it gets that 2.0 gas engine to the showroom, the better. There’s always the V6, but that thing’s a monster.

Jag_FPACE_Portfolio_Studio_Image_140915_05_LowRes

Inside, Jaguar offers an optional 10.2 inch touch screen on the center console. If you’re thinking of buying an F-Pace go for it. At $3,200 it’s pricey but totally worth it. Mind you, you’re not going to jump inside and intuitively figure out how it all works. But you’ll grasp the basics quickly enough and I suppose that learning all the tricks will only increase your satisfaction with the vehicle over time.

Speaking of what things cost, Jaguar is launching the F-Pace with a $42,000 base price. Don’t let that fool you, though. Load it up and the sticker price easily climbs over $70,000. I think most people will probably option them up to the mid 50’s.

Make no mistake, the F-Pace is strategically important for Jaguar. It puts the brand into entirely new territory. I bet it’s only a matter of time before we see two other SUV’s with Jaguar badges on them. If the F-Pace is a Medium there’s got to be a Small and a Large on the way. It’s what the market is demanding.

Jag_F-PACE_Drives_RhodiumSilver_2.0D_R_Sport_280416_15_LowRes

Comments are closed.