Road Tests

Drive Review: Jaguar F-Pace SVR (2019) better late than never

What is an old Jaguar F-Pace doing in TopGear? Well, if you press your ear very close to this screen the venomous hiss and crackle of a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 might still be trailing in our wake – immortalised on paper like it is to my inner ear canal. The F-Pace SVR is very much a car dominated by its engine. But what follows is illuminating, in fact it serves to lubricate the good traits of the run-of-the-mill F-Pace but now dialled up to eleven hundred.

But let’s get to the engine as a matter of urgency because you don’t needlessly carve two bonnet vents unless the engine lurking underneath is a beast. A beast we sampled last in the indomitable Range Rover SVR. What took the F-Pace SVR so long after it was first promised?

We know it was delayed by an undisclosed parts issue but notwithstanding the few production hurdles the F-Pace SVR still manages to land in the thick of the action with foes like the BMW X3 M, Mercedes GLC 63 AMG and Porsche Macan Turbo ranging from newest to oldest.

Jaguar is aware that while they shift the goalposts with the electrified I-Pace, a riper market exists at a lower price point. Perhaps the F-Pace’s colossal carbon footprint wouldn’t be viable without the zero-emission I-Pace balancing things out…

Jaguar F-Pace SVR SA

I won’t spend much time on the cabin because it prefaces the modernised glitz of a dual screen setup fitted to cars like the I-Pace and upcoming XE. This one’s never been high on our list but as other brands foist more and more baffling digital displays and touchpoints on us, the F-Pace is easy to get comfortable with and drive. Lovely slim-back seats are good for spotting apexes rather than rocks, and there’s a proper shift knob unlike JLR’s dreadful twist dial. But it’s shorn of driving modes – if you’ve just exited a BMW X3 M as I have just done, you notice the very fine layers of configuration are missing.

Jaguar would argue that you don’t need modes when the chassis and drive combination is inherently this malleable. The F-Pace’s fluency over bumps is largely uncorrupted by the SVR reinforcements, it resists roll well despite no 48 volt trickery on the anti-roll bars, and with ESC switched off there’s a definite rear-bias to be exploited. It’s not a performance geek-fest at the wheel but it’s got a large dynamic range.

It sounds crazy to suggest it could be faster. The supercharged engine doesn’t rev all that high so much of the punch is wielded hard and early like a sledgehammer. And despite the aluminium construction, at 2,070kg it’s not exactly light but I actually like the rewards that come from being a little patient with the inputs.

To go faster in an SUV you need to spend more though – which makes the F-Pace SVR great value for money. And even in the dystopian world of fast SUVs, value for money still counts. Andrew Leopold

  • R1 499 400
  • 5.0 V8 s’charged
  • 405kW
  • 680Nm
  • 8spd auto
  • 4.3 seconds
  • 11.9l/100km
  • 272g km
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