Some car brands are iconic in the luxury and racing world. Ferarri, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz. And Jaguar. I’ve always admired the lines of a classic Jag and it’s hard not to wax poetic about the XK line from the 1950s, absolutely iconic convertible sportscars that were all about the engine and drive experience, eschewing all comfort for the driver and much of any space for a passenger. Back seats? Puhlease. The company’s been producing cars since 1933 but it’s also seen more tough times than most manufacturers that are still with us, most recently being acquired by Ford in 1990 and then sold off to Indian manufacturing giant Tata Motors a few years ago.
The brand went through some rough years with vehicles that were undistinguished and bland, but in the last few years, has managed to bring a lot of the luxury from its sister brand Land Rover and create vehicles that are sporty but surprisingly luxurious. I had a chance to spend a week with a 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S in Eiger Grey with a gorgeous Caraway w/ Ebony interior:
There’s just a hint of the classic low-slung hood of the old Jaguar in its design, but otherwise, it’s a tough, solid SUV with attractive lines and a rugged front grill design that features air scoops to break up the monotony of the front. This model features upgraded 21″ wheels and a whopping 335 HP 3.0L i6 turbocharged and supercharged engine, coupled with 8-speed automatic transmission. Jaguar has a long history with racing – including the sleek F-Pace SRV Edition 1988, honoring a significant track win – and it was no surprise that the F-Pace S was really fun to drive with lots of power and no hesitation when aggressively accelerating. It’s not a performance EV, but it’s pretty dang sweet for an internal combustion engine. Of course, fuel efficiency is rather mediocre with an average EPA rating of 22mpg, but that’s the trade-off with power versus efficiency that affects all ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.
The interior is lovely, a plush, luxurious finish with admirable attention to details:
Bright, functional controls in logical positions made it easy to just get started driving. This is where I encountered my first oddity with the infotainment system: It couldn’t initialize. I ended up stuck on the “Set up your vehicle”, which was problematic because it overrode the backup camera and every other safety feature. We figured it out, however: It requires access to a cellular network to check in with Jaguar HQ as part of the process and I had it parked in a dead zone for the carrier it used. When I drove it to a more central urban area, stopped and restarted the vehicle, it breezed on past the setup without a problem and never bothered me again. I would categorize this as a significant bug but at least we were able to get past it.
Once set up properly, the infotainment system worked like a champ, offering easy access to a wide array of features, including the built-in seat massage feature. My kids adored this and kept navigating to it as we explored the autumn terrain on our test drives. It also has one of the smartest trip analysis displays I’ve seen in any vehicle:
I couldn’t figure out how to improve my driving score – other trips were 70% and lower! – but notice along the bottom that it rates braking, speed, and steering, suggesting that my braking (or accelerating?) was my lowest score of the three. Also note that for this 40 mile highway drive, I averaged a decent 30.3 mpg, far better than my aggregate fuel efficiency. Some cars offer tips to help drivers improve their fuel efficiency, but Eco Tips was much more generic, alas.
Most modern cars use image processing to stitch together an overhead view of the vehicle for parking, but not Jaguar. It goes one better, offering the vantage point of someone standing off the edge, watching you struggle with that parallel parking task:
You have to admit, that’s pretty impressive, though a bit disconcerting to watch as the vehicle is in motion! But for parking? Best in class, no question. Notice also in the top right that it shows cellular power and signal strength for both my paired mobile phone and the vehicle itself. Oddly, that wasn’t shown on the setup screen when I was stuck, which would have been helpful if I could have glanced at it and seen zero bars.
Back to the vehicle itself. I liked the gear shift. Simple, rather old school, with a big, comfortable handle:
The environmental controls were a bit unusual because the knobs let you spin to set the desired temperature, push in the dial and spin to control seat heaters, and pull and spin to switch from automatic to a specified fan speed for the climate controls. That’s a lot to load onto a single control. Also, note the unusual roller to the left of the gear shift; that’s the volume control. Roll it forward or backward and you adjust the audio volume. Push it and you’ve turned on or off the audio system itself. This is duplicated – with the same interface – on the steering wheel too. Not sure I’m a fan but it’s easy to figure out.
The main gauge was pretty busy with lots of information that could be omitted to simplify what’s shown:
I never did figure out how to change the center portion of the display, nor to choose between trip A and trip B, and surmise those settings were buried in the infotainment settings area. I know the Jaguar F-Pace S has that great racing heritage but does someone driving a modern 8-speed automatic actually need a tachometer showing engine revolutions per minute? I know, I’ve talked about this in other reviews too, and odds are good it remains because lots of drivers like it and also because they don’t know what to display instead. What would be more useful in that spot?
Swinging back outside, I was a bit underwhelmed with the legroom of the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S. I note that the 2022 version of this vehicle gained a few inches of width but, alas, seems to have the same overall vehicle length. Yes, the trunk space is big (as I’ll show in a moment) but the legroom? Well, what do you think?
This is with the driver’s seat pushed all the way back but as a 6’2″ driver I need the space to be comfortable, meaning that the passenger behind me would definitely be complaining about lack of legroom. You know there’s not much room when a budget airline seat looks roomy by comparison!
The lack of legroom is compensated for with a surprisingly deep and spacious cargo area. You can’t just push the seats back, of course, because that affects wheel placement and lots more with design, but still, I wouldn’t have minded 6″ more inches of legroom and a shallower cargo space, which would make this a much more versatile vehicle for adults..
And, finally, another exterior view:
Like all vehicles, there are some tradeoffs with the design and featureset of the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S, but overall, there’s really a lot to like with this powerful and luxurious vehicle. There’s certainly a lot of curb appeal, and it’s exceptionally comfortable for long drives with an excellent sound system and that big, powerful engine keeping you on pace with even the most aggressive traffic.
2021 Jaguar F-Pace S in Eiger Grey with Caraway & Ebony Interior, powered by a 3.0L i6 turbocharged and supercharged 335HP engine and 8-speed automatic. MSRP: $59,395.00. OPTIONS INCLUDED Hot Climate Package, Black Exterior Pack, 16-way massage seats, adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, interactive driver display, glass black roof rails, privacy glass, and more. AS DRIVEN: $73,420.00. Yes, that’s a lot of options!
Disclosure: Land Rover Jaguar loaned me the F-Pace for a week in return for this candid writeup. Thanks, Jag!