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Monday June 25th 2018

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Jaguar F-Pace, Best SUV Ever? 500 Mile KühlToys Test Preview

In the overcrowded world of the SUV, why is there a Jaguar F-Pace?  I mean they have an F-Type, why an F-Pace, and more importantly is it good enough to earn the KühlToys stamp of approval?  In order to find out we got a brand new one and took it on a road trip.

With three Jeep Wranglers here at KuhlToys, part of the same company that owns Beach Street News, the Jaguar F-Pace had a lot to live up to.  But really the Jag is a Luxury SUV.  A totally different market segment.

When you think of the Jaguar Brand you probably are thinking about an overpriced car that breaks down and is crazy expensive to repair.  Having lived with a Mercedes ML 320 CDI on my wife’s side of the garage for the last 10 years, I get expensive to fix, so the Jaguar wasn’t even on the radar when she decided it was time for a new car, er “luxury SUV”.

Since our parent company has a relationship with a Porsche racing team, Cayenne was the first word out of my mouth.  Whoops no more diesel in the US.  Given that the fact that the Jeep Wrangler already has the KühlToys stamp of approval, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was next on my list.

The sales pitch started out with all the fun we’ve had in the JK (Wrangler 4 door for non jeepster peeps) and the fact that the maintenance was included for two years by our dealer.  The response was a swift “The directors wife has one, I can’t copy her”.

Then she handed me her list.  Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Jaguar.  When I asked if she was joking she said “Be glad I don’t like the Bently”.  Of course I said let me do my research and she handed me a sheet of information saying “I already did”.  We’ve clearly been married too long because it looked just like a pro-con sheet I would do.  The Jaguar F-Pace was clearly the top of the pile.  Neither of us had seen one so we went to the LA Auto Show to drive one without the dealer pressure.copyright 2017 fos images Jaguar USA

Of course at the LA Auto Show we drove the top of the line with every option and in her favorite colour, BRG (British Racing Green for you mortals and colour the British way out of respect).  Then I hear about the Jags trick show at GoodWood.

Given that I had a friend that worked at an Aston Martin dealership which is associated with a local Jaguar Dealer, I gave him a call.  James and I talked about the F-Pace.  During that call I learned that Jag under the ownership of Ford got a great new electrical system, and under the current owner Tata was beating Lexus in quality awards.  He said the F-Pace is a contender.

When we got to price and service I almost fell out of my chair.  The Jaguar F-Pace was about the same price as the Jeep and included maintenance for two years with a six year warranty.  Now I was listening.

Since this was to be my wife’s car, I let her pick it.  The only BRG on the lot was a V-6 turbo.  We are both long term diesel fans since we split our time between Southern California and Northern California.  Electric is great in the summer but the cold weather kills the range.  Diesel is still the winner.

Right off the bat the Jaguar F-Pace impressed.  27MPG driving around town v. the Mercedes ML 320CDI 22MPG.   The first feature we noticed was missing though was rear seat A/C control.  There are seat heaters back there, but no A/C so if your passengers are hot, you freeze.

This weekend we made our first long trip and broke 500 miles.  The seats have so many adjustments, I think I found the perfect position at mile 498.  Thankfully the Jag can store three positions in memory.  There were lots of new features that took some getting used to.  The steering wheel buttons are not dedicated, rather they change what they do based on what you are doing on the main dash.  It makes sense when you figure it out.

Now I have to stop right here and say that after seven hours at the dealership, I was finished with training and craving a half and half, so we left.  The salesperson called repeatedly to have us come back in for more training.  We had no idea how complicated the systems in this car are.  Until this trip that is.

Now don’t worry, if you can drive a car, you can drive a new Jag.  You just won’t have any idea about the hundreds of hidden features unless you do a lot of button pushing and learn fast.

Even being the quick learning host of KuhlToys, this car took a few tries to remember how I got into certain menus.  By the time the trip was over, I was pretty sure I had it.

Now for the important part.  Driving.

After upgrading the Mercedes ML to Run Flat tires, the interior noise was deafening.  So the Jag was a sanctuary by comparison.  The problem with that is that 80 MPH comes up so fast because you don’t hear it, and the ride height is just so.  The ML found a comfort zone at about 70.  The F-Pace really likes 77-84 MPH for a cruise speed.  Right at the low end of the”free ticket zone” as my motor cop brother says.

Copyright 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

More About Jaguar F-Pace Loop

The eight speed transmission is very smooth once you get above the turbo lag RPM.  No different than any other small diesel we have owned in that sense.  The big difference was down hill.  Shifting from 8th to 6th manually going down the famous Grapevine into the Central Valley still required brakes.  The ML didn’t have that problem and the JK with it’s highly efficient aero-brake windshield usually needs a little throttle to hold the traffic speed of  75 MPH.

One glitch happened where the Sirius Radio muted after a quick pit stop.  We had no way to get sound, and it came back after the next slightly longer pit stop.  Our Chevy Volt had a similar incident a month ago.

The Jaguar F-Pace and the second generation Volt both use the shark fin style antenna which lets the satellite radio come in at full bandwidth.  The JK and the ML (both Mercedes era designs) used in window antenna and the satellite radio sounds like you have toilet paper tubes for speakers.

I personally think that SiriusXM is about 50% over priced for what you get and the Jaguar F-Pace highlights why.  For the same amount as the SiriusXM subscription, I can get an ATT unlimited WiFi subscription and stream music instead.  With the ATT plan I get a back up WiFi source as well.   We have Verizon and T-Mobile phones and the coverage is always a bit different.

My wife is already on the fence about keeping the Sirius subscription.  The day we picked up the Jaguar, Sirius offered a $99 plan to add on the same package that the Volt has.  When we checked this week the same “special” was $179.  She said no.

At low speeds around town the Jaguar F-Pace was a bit stiff.  Every pothole bounced you out of the seat.  We drove around some small central valley towns with really bad roads as a test and it wasn’t pretty.  It’s so bad my wife put a ban on Diet Coke in the F-Pace.  Around SoCal I don’t think it’s a problem but I am sure that rule will stick so I don’t get to drive it anymore.

The rest of the 500 mile trip went by so smoothly, quietly and trouble free that there really isn’t much to say other than I really enjoyed the drive.  Stay tuned to KuhlToys and see if it gets approved.  The fact that they looped it is going to weigh heavily on the decision.

 

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