Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
I fondly recall my internship years at Jaguar Cars immediately after graduating from Georgia Tech back in 2007. At the time luxury auto manufacturers were beginning to explore the development of SUVs so I queried Jaguar on their potential plans to join the movement. Owned by Ford back then, executives stated there were no product planning resources allocated for such a project. Well, thanks to parent company Tata it’s pleasing to see the British brand joining the ranks of Porsche who traditionally had only engineered sports cars.
Jaguar makes some considerably fine automobiles such as the daring F-TYPE coupe/roadster which is the quintessential prototype — along with the 911 — for a breathtaking driving machine. Now they have injected that progressive DNA into the body of a utility to manifest the all-new 2017 Jaguar F-PACE. Offered in various models including the standard F-PACE, customers can also choose from the F-PACE Premium, F-PACE Prestige, F-PACE F-Sport, the F-PACE S and a special edition F-PACE First Edition. My weekly evaluation came in the form of a Tempest Grey Premium Metallic F-PACE S with a base price of $56,700. The timing was perfect since we were venturing on a family excursion for a long weekend in New Jersey.
Some brands have scored an A with their newfangled SUVs and some are pretty dismal. Jaguar is hovering at the upper echelon of the scoreboard. Its smaller silhouette is simultaneously tough and spirited with a pompous front fascia featuring large air intakes, 20” black 5-spoke alloy rims tucked into beefy 255/50 R20 Goodyear Eagle tires, red brake calipers, an aggressive tailgate spoiler, black roof rails, wrap-around high intensity LED taillights and dual exhaust tips. Inside and out this Jag is definitely a site for sore eyes. Speaking of which, the cabin is “content heavy” and offers a strategic set of both intelligent and comfort features beginning with the strobe lighting known as Phosphor Blue Interior Mood Lighting. The illumination is found on the center console, vents and on the door’s signature lines, releases and bins.
Before entering the cool cat you are greeted by a radiant Jaguar emblem and then again on the florescent doorsills. Many auto brands have previously gone this route such as Ford and their grounded Mustang logo. I was impressed with the authentic and sporty cockpit and digital technology. The black leather interior was outlined with white cross-stitching, a suede headliner, panoramic sunroof, rotary shift dial and a heated, multifunction steering wheel (can be confusing to newcomers) with deep thumbprints and integrated paddle shifters for ultimate sports performance. The infotainment system, apps, rearview camera and navigation are run through the touchscreen which in turn is pretty reminiscent of Ford Sync that is far from one of my favorites. I like the operational functions of the German systems such as BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI and even that of Chrysler’s Uconnect. The second row seats can be adjusted with an electric switch so passengers can lean back and neat side pockets outline the outside of the center console for storing items like wallets or phones. Overall my wife and kids were enamored with the interior presentation of the F-PACE S.
On the road the vehicle was always planted due to its instinctive all-wheel-drive system with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics for reducing understeer and Adaptive Dynamics which adjusts to your typical driving mannerisms. Power came from the 3-liter V6 supercharged engine with 380-horsepower (paired with 8-speed automatic transmission) and 0-60 mph capabilities of 5.1 seconds. On 95 North the F-PACE S was passionately expressive and maneuvered flawlessly through highway traffic. Isn’t it amazing how a V8 is no longer required for enthusiastic acceleration? Even when weighed down by four passengers, luggage and gift boxes the 4,102 lb. SUV (can tow 5,290 lbs.) moved smoothly and swiftly. The Head-up Display kept me in tune with the vehicle’s data and automatic high beams came on instantly when deep darkness appeared. For various driver types the Jaguar can be set into eco mode or track mode depending on your mood for the day. What was annoying however was the intrusive Intelligent Stop-Start feature. It was not seamless at all. Everyone who rode with me asked why the utility was cutting off loudly and abruptly like that. Of course I turned it off after remembering the default “on” setting.
Other featured amenities included the Meridian Sound System, the Driver Assistance Package, the Technology Package and an “Activity Key” similar to a Fitbit band so you can exercise without having to worry about bringing the normal key. It took too much time acclimating to so I left it alone. Overall, the British SUV experience was well worth its weight in gold. Newcomers will appreciate what the F-PACE S is and what it offers. Enjoy the drive and its extraordinary moments!