Review: 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S
Luxury SUV buyers who’d like to tastefully depart from mainstream offerings now have several new, compelling reasons to reconsider Jaguar’s F-Pace. Armed with an all-new interior and infotainment system, the 2021 model may not look much different from its predecessors on the outside, but fans of British-flavored comfort will find much to enjoy inside.
The brightest star in Jaguar’s newly SUV-focused lineup is this recently-refreshed model. Introduced in 2015, this first F-Pace immediately became Jaguar’s best-selling vehicle, but the bland interior and fussy infotainment left a lot to be desired. Today it’s the brightest star in a rapidly-evolving Jaguar lineup, as the brand desperately offloads sedans for SUVs and prepares to convert from combustion to battery power.
Jaguar has spent its dollars well for the F-Pace’s mid-cycle update. Exterior changes are minimal: The headlights and taillights house new LED lighting signatures, and on each front fender sits a reworked trim piece bearing the Jaguar leaper in profile. The interior, however, is almost entirely new; only the glovebox remains.
The newly organized dash uses clean, horizontal lines and makes generous use of genuine leather (unless you’ve specced the base F-Pace, which uses a vinyl-based Luxtec imitation). Behind the steering wheel—which bears newly simplified controls on its gloss-black spokes—sits a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a $550 option available on most F-Paces that replaces the analog gauges of the previous model year. Gear shifting duties are now performed via a palm-sized, leather-covered knob, rather than the outgoing model’s rotary shifter. The new drive-mode selector sits flush with the console until pressed, which prompts it to raise itself up to a twistable position. It—and the Est 1935 Coventry scripts on the dash and upholstery tags—are the only gratuitous touches in an otherwise tasteful cabin, and easily forgivable.
The centerpiece of the new interior is the new Pivi infotainment system, a Blackberry-powered setup using an elegantly curved 11.4-inch touchscreen. Our first impressions of our F-Type’s Pivi Pro were excellent; not once during our hour-long drive did we wish for the familiar simplicity of Apple CarPlay. The screen is placed within easy reach of the steering wheel and its minimalist, sans-serif fonts and cool color palette do much to modernize the look and feel of the interior. The Pivi setup comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; Pivi Pro, as optioned on our tester, adds navigation and can support a wi-fi hotspot. We look forward to spending some more quality time with a ’21 F-Pace and seeing just how livable this Pivi system is day-to-day.
Our F-Pace came in P340 S trim, a code which designates the power output (in metric horsepower) of this vehicle’s 3.0-liter, twin-charged inline-six, which is also equipped with a 48V mild-hybrid system. The power offerings are unchanged for the 2021 model year: The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo four making 246 horsepower; the mid-level offering is the Ingenium inline-six, which comes in 335- or 395-hp tune; and the 5.0-liter, 550-hp supercharged V-8 mill in the SVR model is the top dog.
On our hour-long jaunt around Pontiac, Michigan, the F-Pace’s 335-hp inline-six proved robust and refined, if unable to justify this SUV’s $73K as-tested price. (The six-cylinder F-Pace starts at $60K, so the options catalog is the true danger zone here; but you can easily spec a generously optioned GLC 43 AMG for $67K with 50 more horsepower.) Trigger a few manual downshifts with the pleasantly hefty shift paddles and this mill sounds nice, though. The eight-speed auto happily enables enthusiastic acceleration to highway speed, and lazy city driving is equally smooth thanks to an innocuous auto-start/stop system. The firmly-sprung F-Pace lacks the pillowy ride of the almighty Lexus RX, but the planted and competent handling is appropriate for Jaguar’s longstanding pursuit of grace as much as pace.
Limited seat time aside, our sense is that the 2021 F-Pace emerges from its substantial nip-tuck a much more worthy contender for the monthly lease payments of the segment’s X3, GLC, and Q5 stalwarts. The only question is whether it’s too little too late. Did Jaguar miss its chance to make such a dashing first impression six years ago? Regardless, if this is a preview of Coventry interiors to come, properly luxurious things may well come to those who wait.
2021 Jaguar F-Pace S
Price (base/as-tested): $60,545 / $73,420
Highs: Elegant interior, robust powertrain, settled behavior, new infotainment manages to be fashionable and user-friendly.
Lows: Pricey. Lane-centering is conspicuously absent in this $73K SUV. The firm ride may annoy some.
Summary: The F-Pace is finally a compelling, cohesive proposition, but it may be too late to the luxury SUV soirée to rival the German divas.