2021 Jaguar F-Pace first drive review: Don’t let the wrapper fool you

A lot goes into building a luxury SUV. You need a tastefully designed cabin with high-end materials. The elegant style of the exterior is also a prerequisite, as are the powerful and refined transmissions, as well as all the latest technologies. Since debuting for the 2017 model year, the Jaguar F-Pace checked most of these boxes, but never made it to the top of its segment. Rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 is Porsche Macan paved the way, but this British marque is not standing still – the Jaguar F-Pace has been substantially updated and significantly improved for 2021.

The good news is that this updated F-Pace is better than its predecessor in almost every way, although you might not think that much has changed based on the wrapper. There are redesigned bumpers on both ends, the hood is slightly different, and three new paint colors join the palette. There are also new wheel designs and a smattering of small changes. My R-Dynamic sports tester looks sophisticated and slightly menacing smeared with deeply saturated (and redundant name) bluefire blue paint.

Fortunately, there is much more to report within the 2021 F-Pace, where everything is new except the glove compartment. This complete redesign really pays off as the new excavations are simply beautiful. The dashboard is more attractive and cleaner than before, with open-pore wood veneers or real aluminum accents. In this R-Dynamic model, almost every surface is covered in soft, heavy-smelling leather, and the technology it offers far exceeds that available in the outgoing F-Pace. The gear selector, embellished with cricket ball stitching, is also new.

The front seats are supportive and should be comfortable for many hours at a time. Like the dashboard and door panels, these chairs are wrapped in soft cowhides, but also feature prominent padding, wings that protrude at shoulder height. These protrusions help support your torso when cornering, but they can also hit you in the shoulder blade when you turn to grab something from the passenger seat.

There are miles of space in the F-Pace’s comfortable back seat. Adults over six foot eight should have no problem getting comfortable and staying that way while traveling in this Jag. But despite these real benefits, the vehicle has two ergonomic quirks. First, the door panels are thick, at least a palm, which feels like a waste of space. Secondly, the sills are very wide and require you to step over them to get in or out of the vehicle, which becomes annoying.

By far the biggest changes to the F-Pace for 2021 are found inside.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

By eliminating unwanted noise, Active Noise Cancellation is standard in the F-Pace, ditto for the refreshed Jaguar XF sedan and updated Range Rover Velar. Curiously, 2021 is the first year that Jaguar Land Rover has implemented this peace of mind-enhancing technology and in this application it does an admirable job keeping the interior quiet by canceling out the ruckus of tires, wind and powertrain.

The centerpiece of F-Pace’s new dashboard is a standard 11.4-inch display that’s three times brighter than the outgoing model’s 10-inch. This touchscreen houses Jaguar’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system, which is powered by BlackBerry (yes, that Blue raspberry). Not only is this multimedia array gorgeous, with clean, sleek graphics and a super-simple user interface, it’s also very responsive – 15 times faster than the automaker’s old Touch Pro infotainment system, which was a disorganized mess. With Pivi Pro, common tasks require two taps or less to complete. The system also supports Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto, it also allows you to have two phones connected simultaneously via Bluetooth. On top of all this, the F-Pace can be purchased with a sharp and colorful 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and head-up display.

Offering drivers more for their money, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic warning is standard across the range. You also get an ever-useful 360-degree camera system, a sophisticated Meridian stereo, heated front seats, automatic high beams, keyless entry, a wireless charging pad, and more. This Jag offers a ton of great features right from the start.

F-Pace’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system is beautiful and responsive.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Four petrol engines are offered in the 2021 F-Pace. A 2.0-liter turbo-four serves basic duty and a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 delivers supercar-rival acceleration to the top-of-the-line SVR models. range. Among these powertrain bookends, two flavors of 3.0-liter I6 are offered. Both engines are turbocharged and electrically supercharged, plus they benefit from a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which helps improve acceleration, provides regenerative braking and smooths out stop-start events. The base version of this six-stroke delivers 335 horsepower, but the variant found in the R-Dynamic models delivers 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is fitted across the range, sending torque to all four wheels through a standard all-wheel drive system.

That top-tier I6 is very punchy, propelling the heavy F-Pace to 60 mph in about five seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. Smoother than satin sheets, this engine is a joy to whip, even if it doesn’t look as powerful as its release numbers suggest. Helping this Jaguar SUV take a leap forward when you sink the throttle, the shift is ready and polite, shifts when you need it and does so without drawing attention to itself. Expect 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in this version of the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace. Combined, it is rated at 22 mpg.

The F-Pace’s powertrain is well-ordered and so are other aspects of its dynamics. The steering is tight and sporty without being jittery or yielding when large surface imperfections are encountered. My tester runs on sleek two-tone aluminum wheels (a $ 2,000 option) that measure 21 inches in diameter. Despite their large diameter and relatively low profile Michelin tires (265 / 45R21 if you’re curious), the ride quality of the F-Pace is totally livable. Yes, it’s on the stationary side, but it’s not offensive at all. The tires and suspension keep the body well controlled without sacrificing refinement. The only noticeable dynamic disappointment is the brake pedal, which is a little softer than I’d like.

Updates made to this Jaguar SUV for 2021 make it more competitive than ever.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

By simplifying things, Jaguar reorganized the structure of the F-Pace model. In 2020, 12 leads of F-Pace were available; has been reduced to just five. This handsomely updated luxury SUV starts at $ 51,000 and swaps for an entry-level variant with the four-cylinder engine. Of course, the journalist special R-Dynamic version tested here is considerably richer, checking out for $ 82,245 (including $ 1,150 in shipping costs), a luxurious sum that’s inflated by a smattering of options including the Hot Climate package. from $ 2,110, the $ 2,220 premium upgrade interior package, $ 2,925 14-way sports front seats, and a handful of other goodies.

Without conducting a formal benchmark test, it’s hard to say whether the updated Jaguar F-Pace is more attractive than its segment-leading rivals like the Q5, X3 and Macan, but it’s still a damn good luxury SUV that’s manifestly superior to its predecessor.

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