A very close friend of mine was in the market for a large, powerful SUV. It was his treat to himself after a long, arduous but altogether successful career path. His mind was set on a large, black SUV-Coupé with a high-tech mild-hybrid powertrain, state of the art infotainment unit across two massive screens and a spectacular price in the nether regions of R2-Million. It was a done deal – until he saw the Jaguar F-Pace SVR I happened to have on test.
The F-Pace SVR suffers this ill-fated, look-over often partly because it is indeed a less showy machine, its real tell-tale signs only being its quad exhaust outlets at the rear and bonnet vents. Otherwise, except for a few subtle cues on the bumpers and the placement of SVR (Special Vehicle Operations) badges here and there, you’d be hard pressed to tell it from a sported up F-Pace R-Dynamic or S-version. The other reason it’s ignored is because the Jaguar brand doesn’t enjoy the same brand power in South Africa as say a BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Audi or even rivals from its own sister company, Range Rover.
The arena of performance SUV’s is indeed strongly contested with some excellent cars so Jaguar’s F-Pace was never going to have it easy.
But it’s such a worthy competitor simply through its own propensity to be what it ought to be when that SVR badge adorns its snout – a properly tuned sportscar.
What a pleasant place to be. The interior of the F-Pace SVR is tasteful. It’s suitably adorned in fine materials, a mix of Windsor leathers in contrasting colours should you so choose, mixed with silver metallics, carbon fibre and piano black panels. Nothing is too much in here, it’s just right with adequately sporty yet luxurious seats. I really like the interior design and ergonomics of the cabin. Rear legroom is generous as is the 650-litre boot. The car also came with an electronic tow hitch that sneaks away into the underbody when not needed. Jaguar recommends a 2.4-ton towing capacity on the SVR for hauling those caravans perhaps? I hope not but each to their own.
Where this F-Pace SVR will lose a few points is in the fact that the Infotainment system is more dated than it’s rivals. But that’s not necessarily a fair thing to say considering that most of its rivals are fresh and new. Besides this, the F-Pace SVR still comes with all the connectivity, comfort and safety features you’d expect from a R1,6-Million Super SUV.
The numbers are very impressive: 405kW of power from a 5.0-litre, supercharged (not turbocharged) V8. Add 680Nm of torque delivered through an 8-speed automatic transmission and the F-Pace SVR will run that 0 – 100km/h sprint in 4.3-seconds on to a top speed of 283km/h.
It’s a beast no doubt but where the F-Pace differs from a crop of sports-SUVs is in the way all of this power is managed and communicated to the driver. Jaguar has tuned the car to send more power rearwards with a quick steering wheel that delivers the sort of feedback and precision of smaller/lighter, more focused cars. It’s a wild aggression but it’s always responsive to your inputs so the tail wagging is snappy and exciting but not so crazy that you’re left wondering what just happened. Be careful in the rain and treat it respectfully though.
Dynamically, it’s a mighty impressive machine despite its 2-tons and bulky proportions. You need to remember this because you will feel the weight shift and the body roll, but even through this, the F-Pace SVR grips and grips….then understeers a little and then whoop, the back says “hello” and all is well again. The F-Pace SVR comes with what Jaguar call DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and torque vectoring, stability management systems that actively keep you in check by braking the required wheels when slip is detected. Thankfully it never feels as aggressive as it can feel on other cars. It’s an admirably powerful car with a fantastic transmission to go with it. Flooring the throttle is always a joy and those quad, aluminium exhausts let out the most glorious bellow that will undoubtedly piss off the neighbours but keep you smiling. I promise. It’s by far the best sounding SUV you can buy right now.
All of this (above) is happening in DYNAMIC mode by the way. I’ve started with the fizz.
Dial things back or leave the SVR in its default setting and the F-Pace becomes as normal as five roses tea – easy to drive, calm and beautifully dampered for a car with 22-inch wheels. It feels softly sprung, comfortable and even wallowy around corners – the perfect family-hauling SUV.
This is a 2-ton, 5.0-litre supercharged brute and so I was never expecting an economical run. I did try (for a few hours) but in the end managed a painful 16,1l/100km fuel consumption figure. Open road driving will yield somewhere near the 11 mark and when you realise the insanity of this car, you’ll not bat an eyelid at that figure. It’s serious petrol-snorting machinery this.
A newly updated F-Pace will arrive in South Africa in 2021, and any slight shortcomings of the old one have indeed been improved especially the in-car infotainment system - making the current F-Pace an absolute bargain. It is cheaper than any other sports SUV of its power in the market. Cheaper than a GLE53, Cayenne, Audi Q8 and BMW equivalent. And is it inferior in any way? Absolutely not.
On the flip side, you will lose significant value when the new one lands and these are the scales of ownership you have to weigh. If you’re happy to enjoy the spoils of your hard-earned money now and perhaps hold on to your car for some time, you’re onto something.
I was so impressed by the F-Pace SVR’s ability to put a smile on my face and that of eager passers-by. It’s a joy of a machine, with a visceral and wild side that is let out simply at the push of a small switch below the gear selector. It handles brilliantly with a keen interest to reward and engage the driver yet at the same time, it’s a beautifully put together SUV with all the practicality and high-riding nature of any SUV.
Is the infotainment that much of an issue? Not for me it isn’t. Choose your options and spec well, and be on your merry way.