The Jaguar F-PACE SVR is exactly what you might expect – an absolute rock-ape of an SUV, But to also manages to be completely normal. How? Who cares?
Redline regulars (hello!) will know how much I adore a supercharged V8 Jaguar. Both F-Type SVRs – cabriolet and coupe – are utterly captivating. Look deeper into the family tree and the same engine powers the Range Rover SVAutobiography and Range Rover Sport SVAutobiography. And it used to make the XJ SVR go, too.
The F-Pace sits above the E-Pace in the Jaguar SUV pantheon (sorry), with the big cat likely the goodbye for the Ford-sourced V8. I’ve been waiting a long time for this car. I’m so glad it’s here.
Look and Feel
In this mid-sized-ish SUV segment, most of the quick ones don’t shout about themselves. The X3 M/X4 M pair and the GLC63 look different enough, but there’s no shouting. That would scare off the punters. Jaguar has taken an equally calm approach to the F-Pace SVR’s. You can still tell – whopping 21-inch alloys, big-bore exhausts, requisite deeper front bumpers and a lower ride height.
The awkward extension to the rear spoiler could probably have been better-executed, but it does little to detract from a fine-looking SUV. I love the slammed glasshouse, big wheel and blacked-out look of the SVR. And the badging isn’t too much, either.
I wouldn’t say I’d have an F-Pace SVR in with a red interior but I’m not saying I wouldn’t either. As you can see, the fast one has diamond stitching inserts, shell-type front seats with grippy bolstering and some SVR badging. The F-Pace interior is pretty good to start with, so the SVR’s just helps justify the extra money. The sport-shifter is nice, too, instead of the lower models’ rotary shifter.
Ah, yes. Like the F-Type, the F-Pace SVR is utterly dominated by the Ford-sourced (no shame here) 5.0-litre supercharged V8. The hoons at JLR’s SVO department fit a whopping great supercharger to extract 405kW and 680Nm.
An eight-speed auto, with faster shifts available when you’re in Dynamic mode, sends the power out to all four wheels, but for the most part it’s quite rear-wheel drivey.
As you might expect, the F-Pace SVR is no lightweight. Yes, the standard cars are pretty good for their size with all that aluminium, but a 550-odd horsepower supercharged V8 isn’t light. The forged alloys and lightweight brakes drop a few (unsprung) kilos from the aluminium-intensive chassis and a new active valve exhaust drops a further 6.6kg.
The front springs are 30 percent stiffer with a 10 percent hike at the rear, ensuring reasonably flat and responsive performance. A new anti-roll bar and damper setup also helps cope with the expected corner loads.
Pirelli P-Zeros provide the grip, with 265/45s at the front and 295/40s at the rear, a first on the F-Pace.
I like the standard F-Pace a lot, especially in V6 diesel form. It’s light, fun, fast and handles beautifully for its size. It stands apart from the Germans, too, by being prettier, cooler and uniformly comfortable. And as the years have gone on, the cabin technology has improved too.
The F-Pace SVR is a car I have been waiting for. That endlessly charismatic V8 is utterly wild and totally addictive, serving up smooth torque when you’re pootling. Put the boot in and you’ll wake the dead with an AMG-rivalling, theatrical performance of the 1812 Overture. Cracking, banging, popping and probably breaking heaps of rules, you will never tire of it. And if you do – because you’re dead inside or something – you can shut off the noise with the exhaust button.
The SVR does suffer a little from its heavier nose, but the SVR suspension set up claws most of it back. The steering is lovely – not too heavy, enough feel without too much chatter for the day-to-day. One thing it really gets right is the ride. A week before I had the F-Type, I fired a BMW X3 M Competition down the same bit of road. It has more grip, is pretty much as quick and has a bit more space. It’s fast – but the F-Pace SVR handled the same road much more comfortably. Where the Beemer had my bum leaving the seat over a particular bit of road – big, tree-root bumps on the edge of the road under the tarmac – the F-Pace stayed the course and my foot stayed pinned to the floor.
And that fills you with that all-powerful confidence.
Where the F-Pace bests the X3 is with the soundtrack and the overall throttle response. The supercharged V8 reacts effortlessly to a change in throttle pressure, none of the X3’s lag. It’s crisp and ensures you don’t have to drive around the lag.
It’s so much fun. Loud, bawdy and bonkers, it had me smiling like a loon for the entire week.
It has some pretty stiff competition in the Stelvio Q, Porsche Macan Turbo, Audi SQ5 (not really, but that’s all Audi has) and the BMW X3 M.
The real competition is from the completely troppo twin-turbo V8 AMG GLC63, which has less power but more gears and torque and is quicker to 100km/h by half a second. Not much to look at, though and even with air suspension always feels heavy.
The F-Pace SVR is wonderful – I can’t think of a good reason not to get it. The X3 M might have the final say on a racetrack or the slightest edge in braking and handling. The GLC63 isn’t anywhere near as pretty, but is faster. It feels heavier, though, and the interior is a bit oppressive in some configurations. The Stelvio is hilarious, but it’s an Alfa. Who knows what’s going on there.
The F-Pace certainly uses the most fuel but you get it all back in noise and hilarity.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.