Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.1 seconds
Best of both worlds: Engaging and sporty ride, with the benefit of passenger and cargo room.
Black Design Package: Against the white paint, the gloss black looks sharp and menacing.
Do we really need another luxury SUV? We do if it's a Jaguar, which is the latest premium automaker to jump into this highly competitive — and lucrative — segment. Having already wowed us with their F-Type sports car and XE compact sedan, we were eager to drive the F-Pace. It didn't disappoint.
Appearance: It has an athletic stance and sports curvy design cues from the F-Type sports coupe, which give it more character than a typical SUV. From the front, the F-Pace looks like Jaguar's stately XE or XF sedans with its rectangular grille and the hard stare of its slender headlights. Only a higher ground clearance suggests this is not a sedan. Our F-Pace S — one of five available trims — had the Black Design Package ($350), which brings a gloss-black mesh grille and other gloss-black touches such as the roof rails. The gloss black is a nice contrast to the SUV's Glacier White metallic paint, as were the 20-inch blade-contrast-finish wheels. Overall, the F-Pace has a Range Rover-like profile with a high beltline that slopes upward toward the back, which has a small rear window and tail lights lifted from the F-Type.
Performance: Once again, no surprise — it behaves like a sports car with precise steering and equally responsive handling that is helped by a part-time AWD system. Our F-Pace S had the 3.0-liter, 380-horsepower supercharged V-6 with an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission with paddle shifters. (The regular supercharged V-6 engine puts out 340 horses, and a turbo diesel also is available.) Some may find F-Pace's ride a bit firm, but it's a welcome tradeoff for its fun-to-drive demeanor and sports car-like acceleration. The F Pace has some of the same suspension tech as its corporate cousin Land Rover models, including off-road settings with an all-terrain knob that lets you respond to your enviroment. And even though most of us will never leave the pavement, the F-Pace has an impressive ground clearance of 8.4 inches.
Interior: Perhaps the most impressive feature of the cabin is its spaciousness for a five-seater, especially headroom, and the roomy rear seat that doesn't scrimp on leg room like many of its competitiors. The rear cargo area is also expansive at 33.5 cubic feet and includes tie-downs on rails. The cabin design follows that of Jaguar's vehicles, with quality materials and oh-so-comfy seats. Ours were the 14-way heated "S" sport buckets that were well-bolstered to handle aggressive driving. The F-Pace also has Jaguar's new InTouch Pro interface, which has a large and attractive 12.2-inch capacitive-touch screen that dominates the center console and features virtual buttons. In other Jags we've driven, this new interface was somewhat buggy but that appears to have mostly been sorted out in the F-Pace. Elsewhere, there are lots of influences from Land Rover. Other nice touches: The rear seats can be heated and have power recline, and the panoramic sunroof has a power fabric sunshade and doesn't cut into headroom.
Our 3 favorites
The bottom line: As Peter said: "I initially thought the F-Pace was just here to cash in on the SUV market, but it's so much more. This SUV benefits from both Land Rover and Jaguar DNA, which is a winning combination."