The thing about Jags is they’ve never been practical cars. Thank god!
They have always been beautiful cars, though.
The chromed leaper on the hood, for instance, is more beautiful all by itself than the entirety of most other cars.
The trick is making the practical beautiful.
Enter the F-Pace.
It’s not as fetching to view when you first view it as an XF or F-Type, perhaps, but it has a kind of beauty that is rare among five-door crossovers.
The kind of beauty you only see from behind the wheel.
What It Is
The F-Pace looks like a medium-small, five-door crossover, but it’s actually a Jaguar under its skin.
Specifically, a Jaguar XF with which the F-Pace shares the same D7 Premium Lightweight Architecture and underlying mechanicals. This means it shares the same rear-drive-based layout and turbo/supercharged engines, with the option to get a V8 engine.
And that’s what makes it a Jaguar that happens to seat five, and has enough room for all their stuff, too.
Prices start at $50,900 for the P250 trim, which has a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, eight-speed automatic, and a full-time AWD system. This one also comes standard with a 13-speaker Meridian audio system, so you don’t have to buy more engine to get more speakers unless you want more engine.
In which case, there’s the $59,600 S340, which adds a turbo-supercharged 3.0-liter in-line six, configurable drive modes, and an adaptive suspension.
More power? The $65,500 R Dynamic S400 boosts the turbo-supercharged six to 395 horsepower and 406 ft.-lbs. of torque.
The most power? Jaguar offers that in the SVR version of the F-Pace, the centerpiece of which is a supercharged 542 horsepower V8.
It stickers for $86,600.
What’s New For 2022
All trims now come standard with a power liftgate, which was previously optional in some.
- A Jaguar that happens to be a crossover.
- Turbo-supercharged six is instantly responsive.
- Excellent 13 speaker Meridian audio system is standard equipment.
What’s Not So Good
- The standard 11.4-inch touchscreen interface for the excellent Meridian audio system (and other features) isn’t easy to use while driving.
- The heated steering wheel isn’t available in the base P250 trim.
- Standard four uses about the same amount of gas as the much more powerful six.
Under The Hood
The F-Pace offers three (technically, four) drivetrain options, beginning with the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that makes 246 horsepower and 269 ft.-lbs. of torque (at 1,300 RPM).
This punchy little engine does an impressive job of moving the two-ton (4,015 lb.) cat to 60 in about 6.9 seconds. EPA says you should see 22 MPG in city driving and 27 on the highway.
Next up is an inline-six that is both turbocharged, supercharged, and (mildly) hybridized.
The turbocharger is a mechanical twin-scroll unit that hugs up as close to the exhaust ports as possible so as to build boost as quickly (and smoothly) as possible. But since all turbos, no matter how closely they hug the exhaust ports, are dependent on exhaust gas pressure to build boost pressure, it takes a moment for the boost to begin building.
That gap is filled by an electrically-driven supercharger that builds boost immediately.
The result is what feels like a very strong engine that isn’t turbocharged, and either 335 or 395 horsepower (and 354 or 406 ft.-lbs. of torque, respectively) depending on which version of this engine you select.
The 335 horsepower version in the S340, cuts the 0-60 run down to 5.8 seconds; with the 395 horsepower version in the R Dynamic S 400, it drops to 5.1 seconds, according to Jaguar.
According to the EPA, the 395 horsepower version should be good for 19 city, 26 highway, which is only slightly lower than the mileage numbers posted by the standard 2.0-liter engine. And the reason for that the sixes are also mildly hybridized. A 48-volt starter-generator system cycles the engine off during deceleration, coasting, and other low-load driving conditions to reduce fuel consumption.
This is not ASS–the automated top/start “technology” almost every new vehicle now comes standard (and saddled) with–that cuts off the engine when the vehicle stops moving and then noticeably re-starts it when the driver takes his foot off the brake and depresses the accelerator pedal. Those systems use the same starter motor that is used to start the car’s engine every morning, which was not designed to re-start the engine multiple times during your driving. They also rely on 12-volt electrical systems that haven’t got the power to spin that starter fast enough to re-start the engine without you feeling and hearing it.
The 48-volt-starter-generator system has the power to spin the engine back to life so quickly and quietly that it’s almost impossible to tell when that just happened. Which is the whole point of the thing. Well, that and reducing fuel consumption (and emissions; a not-running engine doesn’t emit anything). And that’s what makes it possible to still offer powerful sixes like this and not just little fours.
There’s one more engine to consider.
It’s the 5.0-liter V8 that powers the very high-performance F-Pace SVR. This engine has a mechanically driven supercharger, which is powered by the engine (like an alternator or power steering pump). These “blowers” also produce an immediate boost, because they don’t have to wait for the engine to build up exhaust gas pressure. They also build a lot more boost than the smaller, electrically driven “blower” used to eliminate turbo-lag with the six. But, there’s a catch—the mechanically driven “blowers” take a lot of power to make a lot of power, and that uses a lot of gas.
15 MPG city and 22 on the highway, in this case. But you do get 542 horsepower (and 516 ft.-lbs. of torque) in return.
If, of course, you can afford to indulge.
The SVR’s pushing $90k price assures only a lucky few will be able to so indulge and that is what makes it possible for Jaguar to continue offering the V8 at all.
In very limited numbers, so as to not too-badly-hurt Jaguar’s CAFE fuel economy numbers.
Oddly, if you consider it rationally, Jaguar was forced by the same government so very “concerned” about gas mileage to stop offering the turbo-diesel four the F-Pace used to be available with. This one averaged about 30 MPG–so about 5 MPG better mileage than the current gas-turbo four.
But then, that would make electric vehicles look bad, and the government is very concerned, about that.
On The Road
It may look like a crossover but this one doesn’t drive like one. It drives like the rear-wheel-drive Jaguar sport sedan its crossover-shaped body was draped upon.
Most crossovers are basically front-drive cars that ride higher than the front-wheel-drive cars they are based upon. They usually offer or come standard with all-wheel-drive, as this Jaguar does, but unlike the Jag, most of the power flows to the front wheels most of the time. When they begin to slip, some of the power is kicked back to the rear wheels. In the Jag, it’s the reverse.
What’s the difference?
To find out, put the F-Pace through some paces. Feel the way the rear wheels break traction–just a little bit and just enough to be fun–when you floor the thing from a stop at a T-intersection and crank the wheel hard over. The FWD-based crossover will typically understeer skitter as it tries to recover its footing. The Jag oversteers (just a touch) and then the tail snaps back into line and off you go, a smile on your face that nothing FWD-based can induce.
This cat is balanced and that’s the difference when you have the engine up front, not mounted sideways, with a transmission bolted behind it, routing most of the engine’s power, most of the time, to the axle in the back.
Dynamic isn’t just a mode, either. Engage it, and the eight-speed transmission will almost chirp the rear tires on WOT upshifts. Some reviewers say the ride is too firm for their liking, but if you like sport sedans that happen to be shaped like something else, you’ll probably like it.
The inline turbo-supercharged-mildly hybridized six that replaced the old supercharged V6 through the 2020 model year isn’t as rowdy but it’s smoother and quieter, as inline sixes usually are. It’s also lighter, which you can feel through your foot when you put it down. The engine revs faster, not being encumbered by heavy balancers hanging off the crank, all the way to just shy of 7,000 RPM under full throttle. There’s also a 3-4 MPG bump in gas mileage vs. the old V6, which didn’t have the mild-hybrid system.
At the end of the day, though, what may matter most, if you’re into Jaguars, is that this inline-six is the kind of engine that used to set a Jaguar apart from most of the others.
And now it does, again.
At The Curb
There are a few others that emulate the driving experience (the Porsche Macan, for instance). But Jaguar pulls another cat out of the bag by making the F-Pace a more practical experience.
It can tow 5,291 lbs., for instance, almost as much as some trucks and considerably more than the Porsche’s 4,409 lbs. It also has nearly twice the space behind its back seats–31.5 cubic feet with seats in place vs. just 17.2 for the Macan, even though the Jag isn’t appreciably larger on the outside than the Porsche.
With its backseats folded, the Jag has 69.1 cubic feet of capacity for whatever you need to carry vs. a less practical 52 cubic feet in the Macan. The lowered, almost “chopped,” roofline of the Porsche will also result in less headroom in both rows than in the Jag, even with its standard panorama sunroof.
The Macan may look more dramatic but that comes at a cost.
Jaguar kits this cat out pretty attractively, too.
A premium audio system is often extra cost, even in some $50k-plus vehicles. But it’s standard here. And it’s a really good one, too. Jaguars have Meridian systems, which some (including me) consider being superior to the Burmester and Bose systems installed in rivals. There’s no distortion at all at top volume. With most other systems, you usually have to dial it back just a bit to not hear audible signs of distress.
The only hair in the soup is the Jag’s pretty but clumsy curved glass LCD touchscreen interface.
These systems all have the same problem that arises when trying to tap/swipe a smartphone while you’re driving. The car moves, along with the road, and so does your finger. You tap or swap something you didn’t intend; try again. This requires some concentration, which takes yours off the road.
The F-Pace does thankfully have end-run mechanical inputs such as finger-wheel volume adjusters on the center console and a steering wheel that make such operations less frustrating and distracting.
Otherwise? There’s very little not to like.
The Bottom Line
You may need a crossover. But if you want a Jaguar, this one fills both bills.
Eric Peters lives in Virginia and enjoys driving cars and motorcycles. In the past, Eric worked as a car journalist for many prominent mainstream media outlets. Currently, he focuses his time writing auto history books, reviewing cars, and blogging about cars+ for his website EricPetersAutos.com.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.