Needs a kick to stay competitive
THE GOOD
  • Great looks
  • Sleek cabin
  • Smooth ride
THE BAD
  • Pricey
  • Poor base engine performance
  • Unintuitive gauge cluster

When it arrived back in 2015, Jaguar’s first-ever SUV, the F-Pace, dramatically changed the British brand’s fortunes.

As it fed the frenzied market, the F-Pace quickly became Jag’s best-selling model. Six years on, the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace gets a thorough redesign, borrowing styling elements from its futuristic electric stablemate to go with new in-cabin technology.

While we have some reservations about the base four-cylinder model, the vehicle certainly does seem like an acceptable alternative to the more popular choices in this segment.

Power: 6.5/10

Base models of the F-Pace, known as the F-Pace S P250, run a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine under the hood that makes 250 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. That torque heads to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Unfortunately, the motor struggles to get to highway speeds and sustain them. The sprint from zero to 100 km/h takes an overwhelmingly unimpressive 7.3 seconds. The comparable four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and BMW X3 do the same trick in 6.5 and 6.3 seconds, respectively, demonstrating a clear difference in power and performance.

The inline-six-cylinder engine in the F-Pace S P340 and R-Dynamic P400 gets a 48-volt mild-hybrid boost, allowing for a maximum of 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, while the SVR P550 model uses an incredible-sounding supercharged 5.0L V8 engine making 550 hp and 514 lb-ft of torque. Both are better choices than the turbo four.

Fuel Economy: 7.5/10

The relative upside to the small engine is efficiency. Pilots of the P250 model can expect 10.7 L/100 km in city driving conditions, 8.8 on the highway, and 9.9 combined. While this model lacks the 48-volt mild hybrid system found in the six-cylinder models, an eco drive mode can be selected to smooth out throttle inputs and further save fuel.

Driving Feel: 7.5/10

Trying to define the driving feel of a luxury vehicle in spite of its weak engine is a difficult task. For the most part, the ride is as smooth as a luxury crossover should be, but it lacks the confidence that’s present with additional power. Our tester featured larger 20-inch wheels, which introduced a bit of stiffness, but the double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear setup kept it all civilized, even on patchy roads. The steering is refined as well, with good weight and effort – although it offers zero feedback or engagement. A variety of drive modes are available, even helping to heighten the responsiveness of the vehicle.

The F-Pace rides like a larger vehicle and doesn’t relay any feeling of agility or athleticism. It transitions predictably from each change in direction, without any wobble but also without any interest in speeding into another curve or corner. That attitude is reserved for the more aggressive SVR model.

Styling: 9.5/10

While other elements of the F-Pace are merely lukewarm, the design of the F-Pace is the hottest aspect. The F-Pace is perhaps the most stylish vehicle in its class, alongside the Infiniti QX50, staying true to the lines drawn up by legendary designer Ian Callum. Here we see an aggressive-though-approachable crossover. Even this model with the base engine looks good, especially the cohesive front bumper. The fender flares and rear haunches portray that appealing Jaguar signature profile. The head- and taillights are inspired by the high-tech I-Pace electric vehicle. The only missing element here is on the rear bumper, which on this four-cylinder-equipped model lacks the eye-catching exhaust tips found on models with other engines.

Jaguar continues its emphasis on design in the cabin, which is a highlight in terms of material choice and layout. Diamond-stitched leather seating furthers the vehicle’s high-end appeal. While the motor under the hood doesn’t feel particularly luxurious, the cabin certainly does. I also like the futuristic feel of the knobs with inset displays and the ability to perform multiple functions based on pulling or pushing the controls. It doesn’t take too long to get used to and allows the dashboard to look clean – at least when there’s no dust and fingerprints on the infotainment screen.

User Friendliness: 7.5/10

For the most part, the vehicle is easy to use. However, the design can impact visibility. You notice the long hood whenever you manoeuvre the F-Pace into tight spots, while the small rear window provides limited confidence when checking rearwards.

The 11.4-inch touchscreen interface responds quickly, although it requires a bit more of a forceful poke compared to a light tap. The system is definitely an upgrade from the last Jaguar interface, and many common tasks can be performed in about two pokes. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported for those seeking a more familiar experience.

The digital gauge cluster is less intuitive. At 12.3 inches, it’s plenty big and full of flash. But configuring and changing the information displayed on the screen is a very convoluted and distracting affair. Not only does it take a lot of time to enter a menu to switch from a two-gauge to a one-gauge setup, but adjusting the information display from media to trip computer should be simple, and that isn’t the case here.

Features: 7/10

Features like adaptive cruise control, four-zone climate control, heated rear seats, and a power-adjustable steering column are all offered but aren’t standard equipment. That’s concerning as some of these features, like adaptive cruise control, are easily found on mainstream, non-luxury vehicles.

Fortunately, there’s a long list of available features, letting you customize your F-Pace à la carte. Those willing to spec out their F-Pace can find features like a gorgeous large, panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charger, a cooled glovebox, and a solid selection of safety tech.

Safety: 8/10

For example, the F-Pace offers blind-spot assistance, automatic high-beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and lane-keeping assistance. In addition to those features, I was impressed by the number of cameras and sensors that made parking the F-Pace easy, although you can get overwhelmed by all the beeping and noises if you’re in a particularly cramped spot.

Although the F-Pace is the brand’s most popular and best-selling vehicle, the sales volume isn’t enough for organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to test them.

Comfort: 7/10

With generously bolstering and thigh extensions, the seats are supportive. They’re not plush, sink-in-and-stay-put La-Z-Boy-style thrones, but thanks to all the degrees of adjustability, they’ll easily prevent dead-leg or sleepy extremities when on a long trip.

Throughout the test drive, engine noise was noticeable, as were creaks and squeaks in the cabin. However, wind and tire noise is muted. My advice is to turn up the volume on the infotainment system, replacing the buzzing and creaking with music.

Practicality: 7.5/10

Trunk space is a strong point here, with a little more than 600 L of space in the cargo area. This is more than the Mercedes GLC-Class but just less than the BMW X3. The rear seats fold down with a 40/20/40 split, allowing for longer items to be stashed alongside rear passengers. Fold all three segments down and you get a maximum of 1,440 L of space.

All seats are comfortable, except maybe for the middle seat in the rear. Those rear-seat passengers get practically an equal amount of headspace as the folks in the front seats, and about 80 mm (3.1 in) less legroom. The cabin has a number of USB ports for charging devices, though the space offered in the armrest to store a charging device is pretty limited.

Value: 7/10

There’s a steep $62,150 entry price for the latest F-Pace, including the $1,800 destination fee. That’s a pretty significant difference from the base Mercedes GLC-Class, which starts at less than $50,000, while the BMW X3 starts around $53,000. Our model had $9,920 in options, including the $1,300 Hot Climate pack, the $1,500 Convenience pack, the $800 20-inch wheels, $1,050 18-way adjustable seats, and more.

Opting for the F-Pace P340 with the six-cylinder engine is an extra $7,100, while the F-Pace P400 R-Dynamic model starts at $73,650 excluding destination, and the crazy- powerful F-Pace SVR will set you back at least $96,250.

That might sound like a lot of money, but in a few years, it might be seen as a bargain. A few months ago, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore expressed how Jaguar will be featuring an all-electric portfolio. The kicker? He’s quoted as saying the vehicles will all start at a price point of around GBP£100,000.

The Verdict

The highlight of the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace is its style. It’s an attractive SUV inside and out but needs either the six- or eight-cylinder motors to be truly high-end. The lack of standard features is a turn-off as is the clumsy gauge cluster, but overall the F-Pace feels like a modern and smooth alternative to the more established and popular players in this class.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 2.0L   Model Tested 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S P250
Engine Cylinders Turbocharged I4   Base Price $60,350
Peak Horsepower 250 hp   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 269 lb-ft   Destination Fee $1,800
Fuel Economy 10.7 / 8.8 / 9.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $72,170
Cargo Space 613 / 1,440 L seats down  
Optional Equipment
$9,920 – Bluefire Blue paint, $850; 20” Style 5031 wheels, $800; Gloss Black roof rails, $450; Black Exterior Package, $550; Privacy glass, $200; Front fog lights, $100; Perforated Windsor leather seats, $700; 16-way heated and ventilated electric memory front seats w/ 2-way manual headrests, $1,050; Satin Charcoal Ash veneer, $400; Interactive Driver Display, $550; Convenience Package, $1,500; Hot Climate Package, $1,300; Heated windshield, $450; 40/20/40 heated rear seats, $500; Protection Package w/o wheel locks, $520