There’s something traditional about a lusty straight-six. A throwback to another era of motoring where V-shaped engine blocks were limited to those wearing eight or 12 cylinders.
Historically, British brand Jaguar was always a proponent of the inline six-cylinder engine, powering everything from its classic E-Type to a range of saloons (they’re not sedans in Jaguar-land).
Maybe it’s that heritage the British marque is looking to plug into with the model-year 2021 Jaguar F-Pace, the company’s large SUV receiving a facelift, an interior design rethink and, in six-cylinder form at least, a major heart transplant.
The revised Jaguar F-Pace range receives only minor exterior tweaks, limited to a slightly larger grille framed by an all-new LED headlight design that incorporates Jaguar’s distinctive J-shaped daytime running lights on both sides.
At the rear, a new bumper design houses new exhaust tips – trapezoid against the outgoing model’s oval-shaped pipes – as well as a new tail-light design.
The external changes are subtle and minor, and that’s just fine by us. The F-Pace was already a handsome and striking large SUV.
Inside, however, it’s all change, the cabin transformed by a new dashboard that is oozing with luxury thanks to swathes of soft-touch leather. There’s a new centre console design, too, again highlighting the new F-Pace’s simplicity. A stubby gear lever replaces the pop-up rotary dial of old; a utility we found cumbersome to use in the past. That’s all history now, the gear lever offering a tactility that’s hard not to like.
|2021 Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic S P250||2021 Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic SE P400|
|Engine||2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged petrol||3.0-litre inline-six petrol, turbocharged and e-supercharged, 48V mild hybrid assistance|
|Power||184kW at 5500rpm||294kW at 5500–6500rpm|
|Torque||365Nm at 1300–4500rpm||550Nm at 2000–5000rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed auto||Eight-speed auto|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive||All-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined||7.8L/100km||9.8L/100km|
|Fuel as-tested combined||8.7L/100km||8.4L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five stars (2017)||Five stars (2017)|
|Main competitors||Mercedes-AMG GLC43 | BMW X3 M40i | Porsche Macan||Mercedes-AMG GLC43 | BMW X3 M40i | Porsche Macan|
|Price as tested||From $76,244||From $98,654|
Anchoring the cabin is a new 11.4-inch curved glass touchscreen running Jaguar Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro operating system. And right off the bat, it’s a peach, with intuitive menus and sub-menus, and a crisp presentation that looks and feels modern.
A lack of physical shortcut buttons for accessing major menus is a minor gripe, but it’s just that, minor. And that’s entirely thanks to the helpfully placed shortcut icons located to the right of the screen, and just within reach of the driver's left hand. It’s all very easy and pleasing to use.
Pivi Pro runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although Jaguar hasn’t embraced wireless connectivity, and still requiring cables to connect your phone. There’s a single regular USB and a single USB-C point inside the central storage bin. There’s a wireless charging tray forward of the gear lever.
Pleasingly, HVAC controls remain analogue, with chunky dials that not only feel nice in hand, but offer a tactility so sorely lacking in a lot of modern vehicles. Nice one, Jaguar.
Adding to the cabin ambience is Jaguar’s new active noise-cancellation system. No, it’s not thicker sound-deadening. Instead, sensors in each wheel monitor the road surface vibrations and, if necessary, then play what Jaguar calls an ‘opposite phase sound wave’ through the car’s speakers. Jaguar reckons it can cut road and wind noise by around 4dB inside the cabin, and while that’s hard to measure objectively, the cabin certainly feels quiet and unruffled.
Jaguar, in Australia at least, has simplified the F-Pace line-up. Just five trim levels with a choice of two petrol and one diesel engine make up the range. All now wear Jaguar’s R-Dynamic cosmetic enhancements.
Things get underway with the $76,244 (plus on-roads) R-Dynamic S P250 and top out with the R-Dynamic HSE P400 asking for $110,404 plus on-road costs. You can read our full pricing and specifications story here.
Despite slotting into the large-SUV category, on price at least, the F-Pace competes with luxury offerings in the medium-SUV segment. Similar money will net you a Porsche Macan ($84,300–$112,300), Mercedes-Benz GLC ($70,300–$115,000) or BMW X3 ($73,900–$111,900).
We sampled two F-Pace variants at launch, the entry-level P250 and the not-quite-range-topper SE P400, the latter priced at $98,654 plus on-roads.
As an entrée into Jaguar F-Pace ownership, the R-Dynamic S P250 is a decent proposition. Power comes from Jaguar’s 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbo petrol. It’s good for 184kW at 5500rpm and 365Nm from 1300–4500rpm. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission and Jaguar promises a 0–100km/h sprint time of 7.3 seconds.
And that feels about right, the F-Pace P250 rolling along briskly and effortlessly without ever feeling strained or under-powered. There’s a nice linear acceleration, the 2.0-litre doing a decent job in getting the 1897kg SUV moving along.
Around town, the P250 proved easygoing and effortless, brisk enough from standstill without being manic. Highway acceleration proved effortless, too, the slick eight-speed auto working tirelessly and quietly to ensure maximum motivation.
The ride remains composed and unflustered despite sitting on passive dampers (adaptive dampers are a $2520 option), the F-Pace gobbling up road nasties with ease and aplomb. The cabin remains quiet, too, the active noise cancellation working away to ensure a harmonious ambience. Can you actually hear the 4dB difference it makes? Not specifically, but you do notice just how quiet the F-Pace remains inside.
The steering, too, is nice and direct, as evidenced by some spirited driving on rural back roads at the F-Pace’s launch. Linking some corners together with hustle highlights a surprising agility, the big SUV unflustered by changes in direction.
Drive modes up the ante in terms of throttle response and transmission calibration, Dynamic mode freeing up the engine to hold onto revs longer for brisker acceleration. Fun? A little, but not so much that you come away thinking ‘phwoar!’.
If that’s your requirement from a large SUV, then the F-Pace R-Dynamic P400 might be more your thing. And it’s this variant that has seen the biggest changes under the skin, with Jaguar ditching the outgoing model’s supercharged V6. In its place is a beefier version of the brand’s Ingenium inline six-cylinder engine. Thanks to a combination of twin-scroll turbocharging and an electric supercharger, the six-pot pumps out a healthy 294kW and 550Nm.
It’s matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission sending drive to all four wheels, the combination capable of propelling the P400 from 0–100km/h in a claimed 5.4 seconds. Quick then.
Perhaps the P400’s biggest drawcard is how unstressed it feels at freeway speeds, that six-banger barely raising a sweat at 110km/h. The big cat simply purrs along eating up the clicks in an unfussed manner.
Road noise is kept to a minimum thanks again to that active noise-cancelling system, leaving you to enjoy the plush interior comforts.
The ride, too, and despite our launch car sitting on 22-inch alloys, was again exemplary – cushioning, quiet and composed. It should be noted, however, that unlike the P250 we drove on the morning of the launch, the P400 was fitted with optional adaptive dampers.
It all adds up to a comfortable driving experience – fast, refined, plush.
The F-Pace P400 also benefits from a mild-hybrid system that utilises a belt-integrated starter generator to harvest energy generated by braking and decelerating. This energy is stored in a 48V lithium-ion battery and can, according to Jaguar, be redeployed to improve acceleration or add some refinement to the P400’s idle stop/start system.
Certainly, it potentially has some fuel-saving benefits, if minor. Jaguar claims the P400 will get by on 8.7L/100km on the combined cycle. Our launch drive that included some traffic and a long freeway run returned an indicated 8.4L/100km. Not often do we see returns lower than the manufacturer’s claim.
The Jaguar F-Pace range wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating awarded in 2017. This refresh should see that carried over. Certainly, in terms of active safety smarts, the F-Pace is pretty comprehensively packed.
Standard safety highlights across the range include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a driver-condition monitor.
Boot space measures in at a practical 755L at a minimum and expanding to 1804L with the second row stowed away. A space-saver spare lives under the floor.
The refreshed Jaguar F-Pace range is covered by the marque’s brand-new five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, bringing it into line with mainstream manufacturers and some of its European rivals.
At first glance, the simplified Jaguar F-Pace range presents as an evolution, certainly when looking from the outside. And yet, inside the big Jag has undergone wholesale changes designed to keep it fresh while also upping the luxury quotient.
A week-long road test awaits, but first impressions suggest a refined driving experience married to some decent performance, even from the smallest petrol engine in the line-up, so the Jaguar F-Pace should stay fresh for a while yet. There’s life in the old cat yet, it seems.