Jaguar is relatively new to the SUV scene with the stylish F-Pace. Being the firm’s very first SUV revealed back in 2016 it revived a then flailing Jaguar brand, becoming its number one seller as well as winning both the coveted World Car of the Year 2017 and World Car Design of the Year 2017. With an all-aluminium construction, dynamic chassis set-up and strong range of engines, the run-of-the-mill Jaguar F-Pace errs on the sporty side of the SUV market. Taken with a pinch of salt, even the launch marketing bumph billed the F-Pace as the ‘ultimate practical sportscar’. That’s a pretty bold statement and building on this enthusiast-focused foundation the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is the Coventry brand’s first crack at a full-on performance SUV. It’s built in-house by Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), the same group of men and women who developed Jaguar’s mad-hat F-Type SVR sports coupè, ultra-exclusive Project 7, as well as the thunderous Range Rover Sport SVR. With this impressive CV backing the F-Pace SVR, expectations are high for the latest hotted-up Jag and getting behind the wheel was by no means a chore.
Now more than ever, car manufacturers are resorting to downsized turbocharged engines to propel their performance models. Conforming to increasingly stringent emissions regulations the mighty Porsche Cayenne S, for example, is now powered by a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6. The folks at Jaguar, however, still believe that there is life in the ‘bigger is better’ approach. The execution of this sort of rational utterly dominates the F-Pace SVR experience.
The F-Pace is, in general, a handsome SUV and the SVR adds visual aggression without messing up the fashionable design. In Indus silver it remains sleek in its design with undertones of menace distinguishing it from lesser models. Functional aerodynamic upgrades from the revised bumpers fore and aft, lower air dams that could swallow a soccer ball, rear spoiler, optional 22-inch wheels and large quad exhaust pipes surrounded by an aggressive diffuser add to the broad-shouldered stance thanks to its lower ride height and wider body. Grace, then, is accounted for if an understated look if that’s what you prefer.
What about space? The F-Pace SVR is a large family SUV with easily enough space for four adults and their luggage, with 650 litres of packing space available with the seats up. In terms of dimensions, it fits bang inbetween a BMW X3 and X5 for example and as a result never feels cumbersome on the road. The SVR benefits from the basic design of the F-Pace and has good visibility throughout and is relatively easy to park, too, with the option of a helpful 360-degree camera system, rear-traffic monitor and blindspot assistance technology.
Comfort comes as a high priority, too, and the SVR is a luxurious place to spend time. Quilted leather bucket seats front and rear are snug yet supportive and more plush than something found in an AMG, even for broad-of-beam individuals. The roof lining is finished in soft suede and, along with plush floor mats, heated and ventilated seats for four, as well as a configurable digital drivers display and 10-inch infotainment system, there’s a posh and cosseting driving environment.
You don’t spend R1.5 million on a car because you want something practical, do you? This is where the pace bit comes in, and then some. It’s on the open road where the SVR is at its happiest. A distinguished performer, the SVR can impersonate both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the selectable drive modes (eco, comfort and dynamic) offer significant differences. With the exhaust valves closed and comfort mode selected the adaptive suspension slackens off, absorbing most road imperfections, while the steering remains light yet accurate. Turn the shooting match up to dynamic mode and the 5.0-litre V8 automatically clears its throat, the dampers stiffen and the steering weights up. The gearshift quickens, too, ready to attack your favourite mountain road, but it isn’t as aggressive as other dual-clutch transmission setups. It must be said that the engineers at SVO didn’t overdo the fierceness of the suspension. The sensation of long-travel compression remains without the use of a fancy air-suspension. Spring and damper rates have been stiffened by 30% at the front and 10% at the rear with body roll reined in by 5% thanks to the inclusion of an anti-roll bar.
Underneath the gaping air vents and chiselled bonnet is an enormous 5.0-litre supercharged V8 developing a neck-straining 405 kW and 680 Nm. The result is that 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 4.3 sec and with enough room it’ll head on to a top speed of 283 km/h. The grunt is sent to all four wheels via a quick yet smooth eight-speed ZF automatic. Steering-mounted shift paddles can be used to control the gearbox when more engagement is demanded. The unique supercharged boost of this V8 motor is something to celebrate. It offers a wide powerband, with good available torque low down, a frantic top end and instant throttle response. Cruising around you rarely need to exceed 2 500 rpm either. On the downside, it is a thirsty lump, driven enthusiastically for a week we achieved around 18 l/100 km. Our editor did manage, however, a more respectable 12 l/100 km on his commute, making use of the optional adaptive cruise control with eco mode engaged.
An electronic active differential assists the chunky Pirelli rubber with gripping the road with no more than 50% of torque allowed through the front axle while up to 100% can be sent to the rear, allowing for a suitably rear-biased feel. It manages its mountain of oomph very well, with the traction control system calibrated to allow reasonable amounts of slip. The optional 22-inch wheels save a total of 4 kg in unsprung mass over the heavier standard 21-inch items, something car geeks will enjoy sharing with the ouens around the braai.
A variable-valve exhaust system is 6.5 kg lighter than the regular F-Pace’s and gives the SVR a voice that cannot be unheard when fully unleashed in dynamic mode. A deep demonic bark penetrates the atmosphere when the exhaust is in full attack mode, reminiscent of something that’d race in the V8 Masters Series. In conjunction with the distant shriek of the supercharger, the soundtrack is awe-inspiring and easily matches the performance on offer. Thunderous cracks and pops on throttle lift-off and anti-social flatulence on upshifts add to the aural drama that makes driving the F-Pace SVR a special event every time you get behind the wheel. With the frenzied engine roar, copious amounts of mechanical grip and balanced yet communicative chassis it goads you into driving faster, urging you to turn around and have another go at the corners you’ve just devoured.
The Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a sophisticated brute that is large enough for the entire family and the dog. With a frothing great motor as the jewel in its crown, it’s capable of putting a smile on your face even at idling speeds. It may never be revered for its all-round capabilities like a fast large family station wagon like the Audi RS6 for example, which is a shame, but the world has moved on and Jaguar has delivered one hell of a brilliant car.
Debuted at the 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb the F-Pace SVR proved its mettle among South Africa’s racing elite by tackling the fearsome 1.9 km course in treacherous wet racing conditions. It out-gunned some serious machinery to win Class A9 (road-going SUVs), making it the fastest production SUV to conquer the hill. What’s more impressive though is it was only two seconds off the pace of the manic 323 kW Jaguar F-Type SVR. There are few greater tests of a car’s performance than this, well done Jaguar!
In a nutshell
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Dramatic V8 soundtrack in a stylish practical package, well equipped compared to German rivals
It has a drinking problem and probably won’t get the cult-like respect its talents deserve
5 000cc, V8, supercharged petrol
405 kW 6 000 @ rpm, 680 Nm 2 500 @ rpm
2 070 kg
Power to weight
195.7 kW per tonne
0-100 km/h in 4.3 sec
265/40 R22 (front)
295/35 R22 (rear)
Pirelli P Zero
11.9 l/100 km (claimed)
R1 511 500