2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t S review

Rating: 8.0
$103,136 Mrlp
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Meet the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t S – the fastest SUV from the brand
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You could posit this SUV got its name because of good old British correctness. The Jaguar F-Pace, particularly this here 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t S, could otherwise be called f***ing pacy… but F-Pace does have a nicer, more polite, ring to it.

The British company’s first SUV is designed to bring the brand’s sporting, luxury presence to a new place in the market, and here we have the sportiest version of the vehicle so far – the Jaguar F-Pace 35t S, priced from $103,136 (plus on-road costs).

You might think with a model designation such as 35t, this F-Pace would have a 3.5-litre turbocharged engine. It doesn't. Instead there’s a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine under the bonnet – yep, the same one they chuck in the F-Type sports car – which has 280kW of power and 460Nm of torque. See what I mean?

The supercharged six is a stonking engine, and the whine that emanates beneath the bonnet is addictive as you plant your foot. There’s a hint of exhaust noise, but unlike in an F-Type S, you can’t option a sports exhaust system, which is a real shame. Buyers who want the fully-fledged sports SUV experience may have to consider an aftermarket option at the risk of their warranty – or perhaps wait for the much-anticipated F-Pace SVR model

Look, it could even be a deal breaker for you. If, say, you’d driven an F-Type with the same engine, you could really be disappointed by the lack of noise on offer here. At least a few members of the CarAdvice team feel that way. The bi-modal exhaust in the F-Type works so well, it’s such a shame it isn’t available here.

That’s not to take away from the drive experience, though. There’s virtually no lag from standstill, and the eight-speed automatic shuffles through gears rapidly and without fuss.

Jaguar claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.5 seconds, and based on a non-scientific test out the back of nowhere during our time with this tester, we believe the brand (we saw 5.9sec in the normal drive mode with no pre-loading).

Surprisingly, it wasn't that much of a guts on gas, either: Jaguar claims 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and we saw 10.1L/100km over a mix of hard driving and urban duties.

There are three drive modes – dynamic, normal and eco – as well as a slow-going terrain mode for rougher surfaces. In normal mode the thing was willing enough for most people’s needs, and in dynamic with sport transmission mode selected, the throttle sharpened up, the steering was a bit more touchy, and the gearbox held on for longer to allow the driver to find the redline.

In normal mode the transmission is clever enough, judging gears reasonably well around town and adjusting quickly to sudden throttle inputs on the open road.

The adaptive suspension measures the road surface and adjusts damping control, but there is no adjustability to the suspension – you can’t alter its firmness manually. But that’s not a big deal, because the ride comfort and body control is pretty much on point.

In tighter corners there’s maybe a touch more body-roll than you might want when you’re really pushing it hard, but through high-paced flowing bends it is tremendously confident. The all-wheel drive system has a rear bias, so it feels properly dynamic, and it also grips reasonably well thanks to its Continental Contisport Contact 5 covered 20-inch wheels (in 255/50 spec). And despite the fact the F-Pace rolls on 20-inch wheels as standard, there was not a deafening amount of road noise.

Those wheels don’t bash down over sharp-edged bumps, either. The ride comfort is exceptional on country back roads, particularly pockmarked, pothole-ridden sections. At lower speeds it can rebound a bit firmly after a bump, but it’s never offensive in its urban road manners.

It has variable ratio steering which adjusts its responsiveness depending on the speed you’re travelling. Jaguar has stated that it aims to offer the best steering of all vehicles in each of the segments in which it competes, and it’s fair to say that the F-Pace lives up to that claim, with excellent accuracy and control – although at times it can be a bit too eager to turn in, proving a bit twitchy at speed. You get used to it, and the little bit of understeer in tighter bends. But it’s still up there with the best of them.

While it accelerates and handles the road really well, it could do better in the stopping department. Our test car’s brakes were a little spongy, and after about 20 minutes of hard up- and downhill driving, they felt like they were starting to run out of bite.

So from a performance perspective, it feels like you’re getting your $100K worth of car. But what about the interior and equipment – does it live up to the price?

For the most part, yes – but the standard equipment could be a little better. For instance, you miss out on keyless entry ($1800), DAB radio ($900), heated front seats ($800), lane keep assist with driver fatigue monitor ($1060) and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert ($1120). You don’t get radar cruise control, either.

Standard is dual-zone climate control, part-leather/part-suede seat trim, electric front seat adjustment, an 11-speaker Meridien sound system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, satellite navigation, a rear-view camera. Our car had a surround-view system with semi-automated parking ($3450) and the quality of the image was relatively good.

As for the way it looks and feels inside the cabin, there’s no denying it is a fairly plush place to be and the dark headlining (including a thin fabric covering for the optional panoramic glass roof – $3400) makes it feel dark and moody inside.

The seats are nicely sculpted and the stitching was perfectly finished in our car, and the quality of the materials and finishes throughout the cabin is pretty much top-notch – but the digital temperature readouts are a bit jarring compared with the fonts on the infotainment screen.

The optional 12.3-inch touchscreen media unit, called InControl Touch Pro (the standard screen is a 10.2-inch display), is relatively easy to operate, though the Bluetooth connectivity on our test vehicle was a bit patchy. In our car there was also a known fault with the screen, which caused it to have a streak across the display. JLR ensures us this is fixable via a download.

Jaguar has nailed it for charging connections, with two USB points and a 12-volt outlet in the second row, a 12V in the boot and another pair of USBs and a 12V up front.

As for space, there’s definitely enough for four adults, or two adults and two kids – the rear seat features dual ISOFIX connection points as well as three top-tether hooks, as well as low-mounted air vents. If you’re a bigger person in the back you might struggle a bit for toe room, particularly if you try and fit three adults across the back pew, as the seat base design of the front chairs eats into foot space. Thankfully the transmission tunnel isn’t huge.

Storage is nicely accounted for, with the back seat having a flip-down armrest with cupholders, while the doors have enough bottle storage for a couple of 600mL containers. There are mesh map pockets, too.

Up front there is a pair of larger (but adjustable) cup-holders between the front seats, and the door pockets are bigger, too. The space in front of the gear selector is a bit shallow, but you can fit a large smartphone there if you need.

The boot is a decent 508 litres, which is fine but not class leading, and the load lip is a bit high, meaning shorter people trying to load heavier items may struggle. There’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, too, and a couple of clever shopping bag hooks as well.

As for ownership, Jaguar offers a competitively priced pre-purchase maintenance plan at $1500 for vehicles with the 3.0-litre V6 supercharged engine.

Maintenance is due in generous intervals, too: servicing is required every 12 months or 26,000km, whichever occurs first. That's pretty handy if you do a lot of long distance driving! And the warranty program for the F-Pace is three years/unlimited kilometres.

The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t S is a quick, comfortable and compelling SUV. It lacks a bit of equipment, which means the added options cost could be up there, but if you insist on a dynamically adept and speedy luxury high-rider – albeit one that doesn't make quite enough noise for some – you really should test it out.

Click the Photos tab above for more images by Tom Fraser.

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