Given the incredible popularity of compact crossovers, it's no surprise that luxury manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, producing small and nimble SUVs loaded with premium features and the most advanced automotive technologies.
And it's not surprising that performance-oriented brands have also released some fast models. The surprise is how much they behave like genuine sport sedans — but with better visibility and at least some off-road capabilities.
The latest example is the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace, the company's first crossover. Not only does it meet the manufacturer's legendary standards for quality and luxury, but it can ordered with engine choices that range from an economic 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4 to a screaming supercharged 3.0-liter V6, all mated to a sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.
All versions are attractively styled, with a large traditional Jaguar grill and chiseled rear end that evocates the F-Type sports car. The interior is contemporary and lined with the highest quality leather, wood and chrome trims. Like the company's cars, pushing the start button causes a large gear shift dial to rise out center console, dazzling unsuspecting passengers.
It also has a surprising amount of rear seat and cargo space.
The F-Pace comes in five trim levels:base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport and S. Standard equipment is plentiful, including AWD, LuxTec simulated leather upholstery, an InControl Touch 8-inch touchscreen electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio, and an 11-speaker Meridian sound system. Stepping up and available options add a wealth of comfort, convenience and safety system. Two-wheel-drive versions are also available.
One option is an "Activity Key" waterproof bracelet goes on the wrist like a watch. It allows the wearer to unlock the car from the outside with the key fob still inside. The company says this means drivers can safely lock the fobs inside their vehicles if they're about to engage in some activity where they could be lost, like rafting. We found it works, although we admit to being nervous every time we locked the fob inside and walked away.
Our test model was an R-Sport, which came with the base V6, AWD, and choice of Eco, Normal, Sport or Snow drive modes. However it was set, the F-Pace was incredibly quick, with the sensation of speed heightened by a snarling exhaust tone that some owners might eventually tire of. But we still found it was still enjoyable after a week of mixed driving.
The F-Pace is designed to compete against such other luxury compact crossovers with performance options as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Porsche Macan. It undercuts them in terms of bang for the buck by offering a more powerful V6 instead of a turbocharged 4 as the base engine, even though it gets worse gas mileage.
Of course, a performance-oriented compact crossover is an indulgence. Chance are you're never going to race it around in the woods, though you could. But for adding fun and safety to daily commutes, the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is hard to beat.
2017 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport
Base price: $41,990
Price as tested: $63,095
Type: Compact performance SUV
Engines: Supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (340 hp, 332 lbs-ft – as tested); supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (380 hp, 332 lbs-ft – as tested); turbocharged diesel 2.0-liter inline 4 (180 hp, 318 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 18/23 (as tested); 26/33 (diesel)
Overall length: 186.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,913 pounds
Final assembly: Solihull, United Kingdom