UK Drive: Jaguar’s F-Pace SVR is a performance SUV you can use every day
What is it?
Despite the increase in the adoption of electric technology and a general attempt to reduce emissions in larger cars, there’s still a place for a big, performance-orientated SUV. Certainly, with offerings from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and even Alfa Romeo, the segment appears to be more buoyant than ever. And Jaguar is jumping aboard too.
That’s why it has introduced this – the F-Pace SVR. It’s a snarling, all-out version of Jag’s popular SUV, designed to give sports car performance in a high-riding layout. We’ve been out to see what it’s like.
The Jaguar Land Rover group has form for making earth-shatteringly fast SUVs – we’ve already got the Range Rover Sport SVR, while a V8-powered Velar is arriving shortly – so it makes sense for Jaguar to have a crack too. It follows a similar format; big engine up front, luxurious cabin inside and enough noise to wake people up to two postcodes away. Car enthusiasts, we’re sure, will welcome the move.
But of course, being an SUV means there’s plenty of practicality to be found too. The SVR retains the standard F-Pace’s large boot, and there’s a good amount of room for passengers too.
What’s under the bonnet?
As mentioned, the SVR utilises a V8 engine. It’s 5.0 litres in capacity and supercharged too – the same as you’ll find in cars such as the F-Type R, and even the recent XE SV Project 8. Here, it produces 542bhp and 680Nm of torque, which enables the big SUV to go from 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds. All-in, it’ll do 176mph. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, too.
Things have been beefed-up mechanically elsewhere as well. Large brakes sit at the front and rear, while a switchable active sports exhaust allows you to quieten the car down – or make it as loud as possible.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s good to be able to report that the F-Pace SVR gets the day-to-day jobs of a regular SUV done with zero fuss. Whereas rivals’ offerings have been overly firmed-up, it appears that Jaguar has remembered that the F-Pace is still an SUV at heart, and one that buyers will likely use every day. The suspension has a great amount of fluidity to it, and the steering is purposeful without being overly heavy. In short, you can bimble around in it without a moment’s hesitation.
But should the mood take you, the SVR can quickly transform into a far different beast. The throttle response is excellent, and the accompanying racket you get from the exhaust is mesmerising – the supercharger whine that you get under hard acceleration is a feature we were particularly enamoured with. The uprated brakes are also a highlight; they perform well and aren’t difficult to modulate either.
How does it look?
Save for the bonnet vents and quad exhaust pipes, you probably couldn’t tell the SVR apart from the regular F-Pace. Yes, it looks a little wider and squatter, but for the most part – particularly when it’s finished in subtle colours – it doesn’t appear all too out-there. We’re fans of that; if anything, the removal of the SVR badges and the fitment of a regular bonnet would only increase the car’s under-the-radar appeal. It’s purposeful, without being in-your-face.
The F-Pace is a smart design anyway, so we’d argue that the SVR had a good starting point. Certainly – in our eyes at least – the SVR only makes things better.
What’s it like inside?
Jaguar has gone to town with the interior – though you’d expect that for over £75,000. There’s quilted leather everywhere, and the seats themselves are well-padded and extremely comfortable. The fronts are sports-style units, which means they get added bolstering – so those up front are even better catered for when it comes to outright comfort.
The general material quality is good, though some of the plastics around the switchgear area could be a little better. The overall sense of space is excellent though.
And when it comes to boot space, the F-Pace SVR exceeds expectation. There’s a massive 650 litres of space to play with, and you can whack this up to a full 1,740 litres by folding the rear seats flat. It’s an impressive amount of luggage space, and it means that the SVR can genuinely be used as an everyday SUV – which just happens to out-perform many sports cars.
What’s the spec like?
There’s plenty of standard equipment to be found on the F-Pace SVR. It uses Jaguar’s 10-inch touch pro system as the main infotainment and it’s a bit of shame – we’d like to have seen the larger touch duo system that we’ve seen on other new Range Rover vehicles – as well as Jaguar’s own recently-refreshed XE – as it completely transforms the cabin. It’s not that it doesn’t work well, it just feels like a missed opportunity to have really lifted the interior.
But things are good elsewhere. You get Jaguar’s Meridian sound system included as standard, along with two-zone climate control, a suede-style headliner and a 360-degree parking camera.
Jaguar has delivered a genuinely rounded sports SUV with the F-Pace SVR. The biggest contributing factor towards that is the ride; it’s ideally setup for UK roads and gives the car a comfortable side to its character that is missed out on other dynamic four-wheel-drives. And then, of course, there’s that hammer strike of an engine, which feels superbly mad in a car of this size. In all, it’s a car which ticks so many boxes, that we’d struggle to think of a reason not to recommend it.