Hey, sorry but I spilled a coconut drink in the Jaguar, and after cleaning it up, it still kinda smells fruity. Sorry! I can take it to get detailed if you want.”
That was the text social media editor Carol Ngo shot me on a recent Thursday. I think she might have added an upside down happy face emoji. Accidents happen, so I thought it was no big deal. I noticed the smell, but not much else. I spotted a few rogue fruit flies in the car. I thought it was weird and possibly related to the smell. But I just parked it in the garage and left the window cracked to air it out over the weekend. But Monday morning I got into the Jag, and OMG, a swarm of fruit flies!
I texted Carol: What’s up!? What did you spill? There must be some leftover fruit bits. The car doesn’t really stink, and I’m not grossed out; it’s just the last time I dealt with drosophila melanogaster was in college.
Carol replied with an apology: You’re kidding?! It was a cup of coconut and sugar cane juice and it didn’t really fit in the cup holder (note to Jaguar, make better cupholders). I made a turn, it toppled over onto the passenger-seat side. I took out the floor mat, washed that and vacuumed as much as I could, and scrubbed the hell out of the carpet with a towel over and over.
In the end, an expensive trip to a car detailer was not needed. Carol made another pass with a rag and off-the-shelf cleaning supplies, and after a couple more days of parking with the windows cracked (in cooler weather), the fruit fly pestilence abated. The slightly sweet smell of coconuts persists, but there are no complaints there.
Right around the time this happened, at about the 5,000-mile mark on the odometer, I started to explore the other side of the F-Pace’s performance toggle switch. Not the checkered-flag, speedster setting, but ECO mode, which is one tap of the right-arrow key away from Normal mode, just before the snow-driving mode. As with ECO modes of other brands, Jaguar’s system alters transmission shift points and accelerator pedal response with an eye toward lower fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Elements of the climate control system, such as seat heaters and an optional heated windshield, are also restricted to conserve energy.
To those who love spirited driving, ECO mode usually means a neutered, no-fun experience. I’m happy to report that, relative to other systems I’ve tested, our F-Pace’s green driving experience is not a total killjoy. In fact, whatever performance reduction measures Jaguar engineers deployed are not immediately noticeable. Yes, the car feels a touch slower, but it’s hard to determine where in the cascade of inputs and responses the slowdown occurs. Is it in the gas pedal’s initial sensitivity? Maybe. Or is there a quickening of upshifts through the eight-speed transmission. Perhaps.
There are no obvious performance gaps or dead spots, so it’s hard to confirm; in fact, I’d argue that a driver new to the vehicle would be surprised to find that ECO mode wasn’t actually Normal mode. We’ll continue to monitor our F-Pace’s performance in ECO and other modes and revisit its ride quality and utility as a surf vehicle in our next update.