30 Minutes With: The 2018 Jaguar F-Pace S

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Jaguar F-Pace S
The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S.
Publisher's note:  Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days.  Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series are cars that we spent half an hour behind the wheel of during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, and then swap cars again once back at the Quail. Apart from an hour's lunch, this is your day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each run is about half an hour, and driving 10 to 12 cars back-to-back-to-back gives you interesting points of reference about the next one.

My seventh car of the day was my third Jaguar and second in a row, having begun the day with the XE 35t AWD and just having gotten out of the phenomenal F-Type SVR.  And it was the one I had wondered most about...the marque's first SUV.

Map of Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade
Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade (courtesy Google Maps)
Laureles Grade is about five and a half miles of non-stop twists and turns between Carmel Valley Road and CA 68, and thus perfect for a pack of automotive journalists and some high-grade machinery.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Jaguar F-Pace S
2017 Jaguar F-Pace S.
My question about the F-Pace S wasn't whether a company like Jaguar could build a satisfying SUV...that question's been answered in spades by Porsche, Audi, Bentley and other luxury/performance manufacturers who've done it, and are prospering as a result.

Interior view of 2018 Jaguar F-Pace S
2018 Jaguar F-Pace S interior.
No, my question was what side of the luxury/sport equation the F-Pace would come down on.  The answer depends on which F-Pace you choose.  There are five: F-Pace , F-Pace Premium, F-Pace Prestige, F-Pace R-Sport and the one I drove, the F-Pace S.  And in the S, the emphasis is defnitely on sport.  Choosing the F-Pace S elevates the base price from $42,065 for the F-Pace to $59,775 but brings with it a whole host of upgrades that sharpen the performance aspects of the F-Pace.

The biggest of those comes under the hood, where the 247-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the four other trim levels is replaced by a 380-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6.  All-wheel drive becomes part of the equation, and the S is treated to 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive dynamics with configurable dynamic mode and adaptive surface response, an S body kit, and 18-by-18-way electric sport-style seats.

Simply put, it was a blast to drive, thundering over Laureles Grade on the way back to Quail Lodge. I expect I would have been able to keep up with just about any of the cars I drove that day, with the exception of the F-Type.  Jaguar's done stellar work the with F-Pace S, and has added to the body of proof that the "sport" in sport-utility is not an oxymoron.