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2021 Jaguar F-Pace review: Australian first drive

By Glenn Butler, 02 Apr 2021 Reviews

Does a new engine, sharper looks, more technology and more practicality give the Jaguar F-Pace a much-needed boost in the competitive premium SUV market?

2021 Jaguar F-Pace review: Australian first drive

This is the 2021 model year Jaguar F-Pace medium SUV, and it's a car with a bit of an awareness problem. When most Australians go shopping for a mid-sized prestige SUV, they usually think of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and maybe the Lexus NX.

If you look at 2020's sales figures, the Jaguar F-Pace struggled to get a share of the market and that's perplexing to me because, after having driven the new Jaguar F-Pace, it's a really good car.

The variant we’re testing here is the Jaguar F-Pace P400 SE which is arguably the biggest newsmaker in the MY2021 Jaguar F-Pace range.

It is one of two in the new range that has an all-new engine under the bonnet, but we'll get to that in short order. First let’s quickly go over the range and what they've changed visually for the 2021 model year.

The six-strong MY2021 range kicks off with the Jaguar F-Pace P250 S priced at $76,244 before on-roads (up $1254 over the outgoing model).

Under the bonnet of the P250 S is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine carried over from the previous generation, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. 

The drivetrain produces 184kW and 365Nm, is capable of accelerating the F-Pace from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds and has a claimed fuel efficiency rating of 7.8L/100km.

Equipment new to the 2021 F-Pace range includes LED headlights, powered tailgate (optional), configurable cabin lighting and a stunning Pivi Pro infotainment system.

The steering wheel is all-new and has integrated controls for the sound system, cruise control and trip computer. There are bigger pockets in the doors and a hidden storage area under the centre console.

Jaguar has also enhanced the active safety features on the F-Pace. Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Traffic Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limiter are now standard on all models.

It’s not clear whether ANCAP will want to test the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace given the two new engines under the bonnet or carry over the MY2016’s five-star safety rating that included a 93% score for adult occupant protection.

All F-Pace models have electrically adjustable front seats, and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. Dimensionally nothing has changed externally, which means the F-Pace’s internal space remains the same as before.

There is sufficient room in the back seat for two adults comfortably, and three at a pinch. Boot space is a minimum of 755 litres.

The second F-Pace variant in the range is the mechanically identical P250 SE variant costing $80,854.

It uses the same petrol engine as the S, so justifies its higher price with heated mirrors, high beam assist, 20-inch alloy wheels, 16-way adjustable front seats, an electrically adjustable steering column and an interactive driver display in the infotainment system.

Next up is the only diesel in the F-Pace range, the D300 SE, priced at $96,194, which features all the same equipment as the P250 SE but has the more powerful and more economical diesel engine.

Then comes the P400 SE we’re driving here, priced at $98,654 and specced similarly to the D300 SE.

The top cat of the F-Pace range – for now – is the P400 HSE, priced at $110,404, or a price jump of $11,750 over the SE.

For that, you get the high-tech Meridian sound system, premium interior materials, heated and cooled front seats, and 21-inch alloy wheels with larger 380mm front brakes.

In June 2021 Jaguar will return the F-Pace SVR to the range. This fire-breathing SUV is the performance king of the crop, boasting a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine (405kW/700Nm) that catapults the SVR from 0-100km/h in four seconds flat. Fuel economy is rated at 11.7L/100km (272g/km).

Okay, now back to the changes. This mid-life facelift – the first major one for Jaguar’s medium SUV since it originally launched in 2016 – brings no significant dimensional changes but does improve the ownership experience considerably, especially under the bonnet and inside the cabin.

Headline changes include two new inline six-cylinder engines, an all-new Pivi infotainment system, and an enhanced active safety suite that all combine to put the F-Pace at the pointy end of the premium SUV field for appeal and value.

Plus, all Jaguar (and Land Rover) models move to a best-in-class five-year, unlimited-kilometre new car warranty from April 1, 2021 (previously it was 3yr/100,000km).

Design-wise, Jaguar has set out to simplify the exterior to improve aerodynamic efficiency and enhance visual appeal. New LED headlights sharpen the front along with a simplified bonnet and bumper design.

On the side, the only change is the addition of the Jaguar Leaper emblem to the front quarter panel, while at the rear the taillights and rear bumper have been reprofiled.

Inside, it’s clear Jaguar has gone to some lengths to lift what was already a premium interior. There’s a new steering wheel with integrated controls for the cruise control, sound system and trip computer. Behind the wheel sits a new high-quality digital instrument display.

The steering wheel itself adjusts electrically for reach and height, and the driver’s seat adjusts in 12 different ways to provide an ideal driving position to suit all but the most extreme tastes.

The all-new Pivi Pro infotainment system sits proudly in the centre console and is in my opinion the best in its class.

It uses an 11.4-inch curved touchscreen to house all the satellite navigation, phone, car and entertainment controls. You can also interact with this F-Pace’s dynamic drive system which allows you to stiffen the suspension, sharpen the throttle and adjust steering weight.

Our test car had the $1560 Meridian sound system option which includes active noise-cancelling technology. It's not new to the market but it is the first time we've seen this in a Jaguar.

It basically means there's a microphone in the cabin picking up all the unwanted noises such as road rumble wind noise, and it uses the sound system to output waves to reduce or nullify those unwanted sounds. In short, it amplifies the cabin’s serenity on the move, and makes conversations possible even at a whisper.

The other big change in the cabin is to practicality. Bigger storage pockets in the doors, a cool little cubby hideaway under the centre console, and a wireless charging mat (optional) add convenience to a classy cabin.

The Jaguar F-Pace has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, but not the wireless kind yet, so going truly wireless in the cabin is still in the future.

When it does come, the Pivi Pro’s OTA (Over The Air) update capability means it should be added to cars without the owner needing to a) pay for it, and b) go to a dealer.

As for back seat and boot space, nothing has changed there because the F-Pace’s physical dimensions are unchanged.

Now to this Ingenium engine, which is the big news of the MY21 F-Pace update.

The P400 SE is powered by an inline six-cylinder petrol engine displacing 3.0 litres and good for 294kW and 550Nm. All F-Paces come with an eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive.

Jaguar claims the P400 will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds, and on my test drive I saw no reason to dispute that. The engine has a strong, syrupy nature that contributes to effortless daily driving.

If the driver ups the ante on the throttle, the acceleration is neck-snapping aggressive, and the transmission quickly and seamlessly drops ratios to slot the right gear for the best result.

Drive aggressively and you won’t stand a chance of achieving the WLTP fuel economy average of 8.7L/100km. But on a more casual stint we saw high sixes, so economical driving is possible.

When it comes to ride quality, our test car acquitted itself admirably given that it was wearing 22-inch wheels and tyres.

The ride is very well controlled and relatively supple in comfort mode, and dynamically capable too, although some tyre noise is evident. In firmer dynamic mode the ride is busier but still comfortable.

I also drove the P250 at the launch, and while that 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine is capable, it doesn’t have the catlike reflexes or generous nature of the P400, which in turn fits better with the F-Pace’s premium positioning.

At just shy of $100,000 plus on-road costs, the Jaguar F-Pace P400 SE is not cheap, but it now wants for nothing, which makes it a great addition to the shopping list for anyone looking at a premium SUV.

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