IT’S a funny thing watching someone else drive a road test car. You want to tell them how to drive, what they should be thinking, what’s cool about the car they’ve just climbed behind the wheel of.
But you can’t do any of that, you have to let them experience it for themselves. And when you look across at them, and they’re grinning from ear-to-ear because they’ve just blown away a Porsche Cayenne – you know they’re as excited as you are about this car.
The F PACE is Jaguar’s first attempt at an SUV, and the R Sport its pinnacle performance model. Think of it as F TYPE thinking (and you know how hot the F TYPE is) in an SUV body. It’s a practical sports car.
Sounds funny we know, but that’s really what it is. Sports car performance with the practicalities of an SUV.
Jaguar gave us the 30d AWD – the middle of the R Sport road if you like, powered by a 3-litre turbo diesel V6 pumping out 221kW through the all-wheel-drive system, and capable of 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds (we definitely gave that a nudge).
This car is genuinely ballsy and has grunt to spare. Put your foot to the floor and the power feeds on seamlessly, and effortlessly, the big V6 giving its all to deliver hard core performance across all four wheels. At pace, the F PACE is magic to drive, on all road surfaces, so sweet is the ride it makes you smile.
Combined fuel economy is 6.0 litres/100km thanks to the eight speed gearbox and some impressive engine dynamics, and let’s not forget the whopping 700Nm of torque it pumps out, or the 2.4 tonne towing capacity.
Oh, and just so you know, the R Sport is also available as the 35t AWD package (a 3-litre V6 all aluminium petrol engine with a supercharger bolted on for good measure – 250kW straight out of the box).
The R Sport rides on 19-inch Bionic five blade twin-spoke wheels as standard, but our F PACE was a bit more special than that, running on 22-inch double helix 15 spoke wheels with black finish (and black contrasting inserts) – that were beyond cool. The beastly R Sport also features a body kit with branded front and rear bumpers, and metal tread plates, body coloured cladding and satin black finishers inserted everywhere to highlight the R Sport design.
There’s bi-function Xenon headlights and J blade LED daytime running lights, and the overall design of the car captures air to ensure the best possible ride.
Inside you’ll find a black and red leather interior that captures the racy heart of the F PACE to a tee. It’s funky and sporty enough to look the goods, yet refined enough to remind you you’re still driving a Jag. The contoured sports seats are covered in perforated Taurus leather and there’s a real feel that Jaguar has tried to think of everything for this car.
Interior lighting is good too with mood lighting hidden in door rests and other spots around the car, but, and you knew the buts would come, there’s a downside inside too. The centre console is wide, exceptionally wide, and impinges on the driver and front passenger space. So much so you find yourself feeling squashed at the knee area when you should feel relaxed.
Load space is an exceptional 1,740 litres with the seats laid flat, and the F PACE features a gesture tailgate, whereby you simply need to put your foot under of of the rear flanks to open or close the tailgate. The load space floor is also reversible.
Additionally, the car features a robust and fully waterproof activity key. Think of it as a FitBit style wristband that lets you open the car, while the conventional key fob can be left in the car (as activating the activity key de-activates the normal key).
On the safety front, the F PACE features all surface progress control (a low speed cruise control for perfect traction in difficult driving situations), and adaptive dynamics and adaptive surface response (let’s call them best practice grip and brake settings). There’s a heads up display too for driver convenience and added safety (not standard on all models but can be added as part of an accessory package).
You’ll also find lane departure warning (using the now generally standard vibration to let you know you’ve strayed), lane keep assist, and driver condition monitor (that keeps a watchful eye on fatigue levels), and blind spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection.
Adaptive cruise control with queue assist (which automatically slows you in traffic), park assist and autonomous emergency braking also feature in a massive safety package. Add in a surround camera system, trailer stability assist, engine drag torque control and dynamic stability control to complete the safety response from Jaguar (some of which forms part of an add on accessories pack).
The now standard JaguarDrive (Snow/Eco/Normal/Dynamic) is here too, along with torque vectoring for improved handling, electric power assisted steering and a little something ported straight from the F TYPE – configurable dynamics – which lets you set throttle mapping, gearbox shift points and steering to suit your performance driving requirements.
So you want one right? Well to get into the 2017 Jaguar F PACE R Sport in the same specs we had, you’ll need to part with a little over $99,000 drive away – a pretty competitive price we think (that said in the specs we drove it around in, it was dearer than the $99K price tag – but we wouldn’t change a thing). The accessories might kill you when it comes to pricing, but choosing the right bits for your F PACE will make it uniquely yours – it could just cost you lots more along the way.
Firstly, there are 14, yes 14 wheel options (given the choice we’d run with the 22s). There are nine roof options (think panoramic roof or no panoramic roof, and a host of colour keyed rail options), two window surround options and a total of 14 exterior colours, including Ebony Black, Polaris White, Glacier White (as tested), Ultimate Black, Ammonite Grey, Dark Sapphire Blue, British Racing Green, Quartzite, Italian Racing Red, Odyssey Red, Rhodium Silver, Tempest Grey, Storm Grey and Ingot.
Four interior trim options (including the awesome looking red and black leather combination), and three info-tainment options, with the 825w Meridian sound system and InTouch Pro 10.2-inch screen the stand out amongst the three. There’s also a bunch of other interior choices – it’s nearly enough to make your head spin, but again, it’s about making your F PACE uniquely yours.
The F PACE is also available with two other engine configurations, and four other model options (including the First Edition – a special 2016 plated once only model that is inspired by the C-X17 concept vehicle that gave birth to the F PACE).
Our test vehicle was provided by Jaguar Australia. To find out more about the 2017 Jaguar F PACE R Sport, contact your local Jaguar dealer.