Jaguar F-PACE 2021 p400 r-dynamic se (294kw)

2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400 international first drive

Rating: 8.6
$90,000 $107,030 Dealer
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The new engine is good – but the new cabin is even better.
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While the Jaguar brand has been associated with straight sixes for longer than any other type of engine, buyers haven’t been able to choose one in a new car since the twin-cam AJ6 died in 1997.

But that’s changing with the arrival of the facelifted version of the F-Pace, which is ditching the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 for a cleaner and more muscular 3.0-litre inline version of the company’s Ingenium six-pot.

Badged as the P400, this will be positioned above the carried-over P250 gasoline four-cylinder and below the almighty V8 SVR. It offers the combination of 294kW and 550Nm of torque, and features both a twin-scroll turbocharger and an electric supercharger to improve low-speed response. Plus, there's a 48V mild hybrid system that adds modest assistance through a belt-driven starter generator. An Ingenium inline-six turbo diesel will also be offered in P300 guise.

The revised F-Pace range will arrive here later in the year, but CarAdvice has already had a turn in a European-spec left-hook 2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400 R-Dynamic SE, albeit driven in the UK following the COVID-enforced cancellation of what would have been a swanky media launch in Barcelona. Beyond the need to get used to driving in the gutter, first impressions were positive.

While the new engine is the headline change of the facelift, some of the other revisions have actually had more effect at sharpening the F-Pace’s case. Exterior design changes are minor; it’s not as if there was much wrong with Ian Callum’s elegant original.

2021 Jaguar F-Pace P400 (MY21)
Engine2995cc, straight-six petrol, turbocharged and e-supercharged, 48V mild hybrid assistance
Power294kW at 5500–6500rpm
Torque550Nm at 2000–5000rpm
TransmissionEight-speed auto
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Kerb weight2028kg
Fuel claim combined9.8L/100km
0-100km/h (claim)5.4sec
Main competitorsMercedes-AMG GLC43 | BMW X3 M40i | Porsche Macan
Price as testedTBC

The biggest change is the arrival of new all-LED headlights, these incorporating distinctive twin J-shaped DRLs on both sides. The front grille is fractionally larger, and there is a new bumper at the back with trapezoidal exhaust finishers rather than the original tailpipes. The rear lights have also been changed for units inspired by those fitted to the electric I-Pace.

But inside the changes are bigger, and have been targeted precisely on the areas in which the original F-Pace was starting to feel its age. The F-Pace gets a new dashboard with a generous band of soft-touch leather and a simpler, classier centre console. This features both a sizeable 11.4-inch curved glass touchscreen running JLR’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system, but also redesigned heating and ventilation controls that ditch the previous black plastic buttons for much more upmarket Range Rover-style rotary controls.

The old F-Pace’s pop-up rotary gear selector has gone, replaced by a conventional lever for the eight-speed auto, but driving modes are now selected by a smaller rotary dial in place of the line of buttons in the original car. The steering wheel has also gained haptic touch-sensitive controls.

Taken together, these revisions have pretty much transformed the F-Pace from one of the weaker cars in its segment to one that immediately feels like a frontrunner. Pivi Pro is a huge step forward over the old InControl Touch infotainment: faster acting, more intuitive, and beautifully rendered on the generous touchscreen.

It supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, can connect to two different phones simultaneously, and can even integrate with Microsoft and Google calendars. System updates will also be handled over the air rather than through dealers.

Two other new innovations are worth mentioning, although both are designed to limit experiences rather than add to them. The F-Pace gets an advanced air ionisation system able to capture particles down to just 2.5 microns in size. It also features an active noise-cancellation system, which uses sensors in each wheel to monitor road-surface vibrations so that an anti-phase can be played through the car’s loudspeakers. Jaguar claims this can cut overall noise levels by 4dB and peaks by up to 10dB.

While it’s impossible to detect the contribution of the anti-noise system, the new F-Pace certainly seemed quieter and better insulated at a rapid UK motorway cruise than I remember its predecessor being, and despite riding on 22-inch wheels with 40-profile tyres. Ride quality is impressively pliant, and the chassis felt well damped when dealing with a selection of both low-quality urban tarmac and the frequently savage crests and contours of English back roads.

The F-Pace was originally benchmarked against the Porsche Macan, and although it still can’t match its German rival on ultimate athleticism, it offers a more laid-back dynamic experience that many will find more compelling – and the F-Pace’s ultra-accurate steering is every bit as good. It’s certainly hard to think of another SUV that offers such a well-judged compromise between ride and handling.

While the new engine is good, it definitely lacks some of the charisma that gave the old supercharged V6 its appeal. The new engine is more muscular across the board, with the electric supercharger invisibly providing low-down boost and the turbo keeping it pulling all the way to a 6750rpm limiter. Even on wet and slippery roads, the all-wheel-drive system had no difficulty in finding traction to match the urge.

But although the new donk makes muscular noises when worked hard, it lacks the slightly juvenile snarling soundtrack that made the old V6 such an amusing companion.

The eight-speed auto of my test car also seemed short on smarts when left in drive, and changing down more often than the broadness of the engine’s torque peak – which stretches all the way from 2000rpm to 5000rpm – suggests it should. Selecting manual mode solves this, and also gives the chance to play with the nicely weighted metal change paddles behind the steering wheel.

The F-Pace is Jaguar’s best-selling model, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the company isn’t making any radical changes to what has proved to be a winning recipe. The revisions have done much to sharpen its appeal in a particularly tough-fought market segment, and indeed to remind buyers just how good the fundamentals have always been.

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