I’ve had a lot of people tell me that luxury performance SUV’s don’t make any sense. An SUV should be useful they say. The “U” in SUV stands for “Utility” after all. Utility: the state or quality of being useful; usefulness. So I asked myself: Does a sport utility vehicle have to be useful? I wasn’t sure. I pondered this question when I drove the Bentley Bentayga a few months ago. The Bentaygo is Bentley’s definition of Utility: a luxury performance SUV with about 600 horsepower and a price tag approaching $300,000. Useful? Not really. I’ve never owned a Bentley before. But while I was driving the Bentayga I had a hard time seeing anyone driving it to Home Depot and filling it with mulch and potting soil.
So when the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S showed up in my driveway, I decided I needed to think a little bit more about what “utility” means and how important utility actually is in an SUV. The F-Pace S is an all wheel drive luxury performance crossover sport utility vehicle powered by a 3.0L supercharged V-6 engine cranking out 380 horsepower that is transferred to its 20 inch alloy wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters with a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. Useful in an SUV? Maybe. If you like to go fast.
The F-Pace was first introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit for the 2016 model year. Based on the Jaguar C-X17 concept crossover SUV, the F-Pace is Jaguar’s first ever luxury performance crossover SUV. “First evers” can be really exciting. But they can also be real disasters. I was excited to see how Jaguar would do with the F-Pace S, particularly because this was my first time in it.
When you enter the Jet Black Taurus leather covered cabin and press the start button, the first thing you can’t help but notice is the retractable electronic shifter knob. Its probably one of the coolest new car things I’ve seen since Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit. When you press the start button and fire up the F-Pace’s 380 supercharged horses, the electronic shifter knob rises slowly from the depths of the center console. Ready for action; ready to be shifted. And when you push the stop button to quiet those same horses, it retracts back into the depths whence it came. Totally unnecessary. Not very useful. But really, really cool nonetheless.
The other really cool feature unique to the F-Pace is what Jaguar calls its Activity Key. A black rubberized bracelet that allows you to lock the key fob in the car when you go running, swimming, biking or any other activity where carrying a key fob is inconvenient or undesirable. I took the F-Pace on a few morning runs. I locked the fob in the car, strapped the Activity Key around my wrist, and pounded out a solid 6 miles. No heavy fob banging around in my pocket; no risk of losing it; no leaving the car unlocked with the key hidden under the mat. I actually lost a key fob on an early morning run once. It makes getting home a bit of a challenge. You can’t do that with the Activity Key. The British are pretty clever. Brilliant, I say.
Read More: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace Specs
Believe it or not there is an F-Pace for every budget. The base F-Pace starts at $41,990 and works its way through 5 different trim packages with the F-Pace S at the highest end at a base price of $57,700. All Jag F-Pace SUV’s come with Jaguar’s all-wheel-drive-system that uses Intelligent Driveline Dynamics software. There are two engines available in the F-Pace. The 3.0L supercharged V6 engine in both a 340 hp and 380 hp versions and a 2.0-L I4 turbocharged diesel engine.
So how does it drive? That’s really what it comes down to. Is it stiff and trucky like a lot of SUV’s? Is it big and boaty (yes, those are car terms) like some of the huge SUV’s? No. Not at all. It drives like a sports car – it really does. Not quite like the BMW M2 Coupe or the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 that I love so much. But for an SUV – amazing. Jaguar uses lots of technology and British ingenuity to get you this amazing ride. Torque Vectoring Technology is employed to improve capability on corners by applying independent braking on the inside wheels to reduce understeer. Jaguar’s segment leading proprietary Adaptive Surface Response and All-Surface Progress Control technologies recognizes difference between surfaces to adjust for maximum grip on all weather conditions, whether it be dry, snowy or wet pavement. Jaguar keeps the weight down but maintains stiffness by using aluminum architecture rather then steel. I only drove it on dry pavement so I didn’t really get to experience all of these technologies, but I will tell you that on dry pavement it drives and handles far better then just about any SUV I have driven.
View Video: Jaguar F-Pace Activity Key
Of course the F-Pace has all of the safety tech as well so you don’t have to trade performance for safety.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking;
- Heads up Display;
- Surround Camera System;
- Engine Drag Torque Control (mitigates the chance of wheel lock-up caused by strong engine breaking in slippery conditions);
- Dynamic Stability Control;
- Park Assist;
- Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor (which monitors driving inputs to detect lapses in concentration due to tiredness);
- Traffic Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Limiter;
- Blind Spot Monitor with Closing Vehicle Sensing; and
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist.
For the money and given the size, this is my favorite SUV – hands down, not even close. There’s no third row so this is not a kid hauler, but it does boast 33.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up. Plenty of room for all the luggage and stuff needed for the weekend road trip to the country. So is there Utility in Jaguar’s F-Pace S luxury performance crossover sport utility vehicle? I guess I don’t know. I had so much fun driving it – spending every minute I could in it – I forgot to think about utility. At the end of the day if its fun as hell to drive and it makes you happy (which I promise you it will), who cares if its useful. Go drive it and tell me what you think. And if you really need something useful – go buy a truck.