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Jaguar F-Pace SVR review: Jag's V8 SUV

By Cameron Kirby, 09 Aug 2019 Reviews

Jaguar F-Pace SVR review: Jag's V8 SUV

Chucking a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under the bonnet adds character and grunt in spades to Jag’s inaugural SUV

Overall Rating

5 0 5

Plus & Minus

  1. Stonking engine with ample grunt and character, straight-line performance, value for money

  2. Poor low-speed ride, major safety tech optional

  3. The Wheels Verdict: The F-Pace SVR is a whole lotta performance for the cash, giving customers over 400kW for under $150K. This means smile-inducing performance is available at the flex of the right foot, but there are some features, like adaptive cruise control, which remain cordoned off as optional extras. Power distilled, then.

What is it?

Jaguar’s mid-size premium SUV, with the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from the Range Rover Sport SVR and Jaguar F-Type SVR wedged under the bonnet, at a fraction of the cost.

Why we’re testing it

Mega-quick SUVs are in vogue right now, with Mercedes-AMG, Alfa Romeo and BMW’s M Division all pumping out high-riders that have enough performance to rival their sedan siblings. The F-Pace SVR is Jag’s foray into the fight, and the cheapest SVO product you can buy. But is it worth the six-figure outlay?

The Wheels review

In a 2018 Wheels comparison test, Andy Enright succinctly summed up the F-Pace as the perfect car for someone that wants modern convenience, but doesn’t actually like modern cars. In an era of adding batteries, not cubic inches, to find extra power, Jaguar has taken this caricature to the next level, shoehorning a truly old school supercharged 5.0-litre V8 into its mid-size SUV. Modern sensibilities be damned.

The end result is the F-Pace SVR, a 404kW/680Nm uber SUV that is being offered to the public at a relatively bargain $140,262. Along with the bigger engine, the SVR gains new bumper treatments front and rear, which combined with bonnet vents and quad exhaust tips, add some much-needed aggression to the styling of Jaguar’s first SUV.

Inside there is some generous equipment as standard as well, with heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way electric adjustable sports front seats with memory, heated steering wheel, electrically adjustable steering column, 11-speaker 380-Watt sound system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto all fitted to every F-Pace SVR.

But it’s the engine which is the real headline act here. Being supercharged, it provides power in a linear fashion, making it feel manageable in all situations, even as it approaches redline. When we performance tested the F-Type SVR recently, it reeled off easily repeatable figures that matched Jaguar’s reported time to the tenth of a second, giving credence to the F-Pace SVR’s 4.3-second sprint claim. Acceleration is efficient and brutal in equal measure, with the nose nudging skyward as almost two tonnes of bulk lunges forward. It will keep hauling well past any speed limit in Australia in just a few seconds.

Mated to the V8 is an eight-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels via an electronic active differential. Gearbox calibration is subdued when left in its standard mode, opting to keep revs low. Flick the gear selector over to sport, and the revs increase as the shifts occur later in the range. If driving enthusiastically, but not at ten-tenths, it’s well suited; if you really want to grab the F-Pace by the scruff of the neck and get into its dynamic well, picking ratios is best taken care of manually via wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This will also give you the best aural experience, with genuine guttural overrun theatrics on gearshift. This is in part thanks to the switchable sports exhaust which is fitted as standard – something that can’t be optioned on other F-Pace variants.

Jaguar’s engineers have done well to hide the F-Pace’s size and heft, and while the steering isn’t as impressive as others within the stable, it remains enjoyably communicative and direct. While adept enough to hassle, or outrun, some of the fastest hot hatches available, the F-Pace isn’t as dynamically sorted as the class benchmark Porsche Macan, falling foul of its inherently flawed SUV design. This is despite JLR stiffening damper rates 30 and 10 percent front and rear respectively compared to the 35t. Brake discs measure in at 395mm and 396mm front/rear, with impressive stopping power, however, we didn’t get enough time behind the wheel to see how they withstand extended punishment when slowing down 1932kg of mass.

The fact our test car rode as good as it does on 22-inch forged alloy wheels (a $2210 option over standard 21-inch rims) and steel suspension is an engineering feat, but it still struggles with sharper bumps in the road, particularly at slower speeds. Adaptive dampers are standard, thankfully, but the suspension is best left in comfort, with sport too harsh for all bar the smoothest of black tops. However, the firmness on choppy and urban roads dissipates slightly with increasing speed.

Bang for bucks, the F-Pace SVR offers the best value in its class. While it’s $31,825 more expensive than the previous range-topping 3.0-litre supercharged V6 35t, it offers a whopping 125kW/230Nm boost. And compared to rivals the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S and new BMW X3 M Competition, it's an attractive proposition, positioned $24,638 and $17,638 cheaper respectively. While the AMG might be the torque monster with 700Nm on tap, the SVR delivers 29kw more power than either, and 80Nm more than the Beemer.

However, some things that should be standard remain optional, such as blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control, and high-speed emergency braking, which are all locked off as part of a $1740 ‘drive pack’. A head-up display can only be had when bundled as part of a $2650 option pack that also includes rain sensing windscreen wipers – worrying when you can easily be in license-suspension territory in a matter of seconds, and will be wanting to keep an eye on those rapidly rising speed figures.

Despite these shortcomings, and the unrefined low-speed urban ride, the F-Pace SVR is a people hauler with real muscle. A more aggressive tune is available for the 5.0-litre supercharged V8, but you’ll never miss it, with physics-defying straight line performance worth the price of admission alone. The F-Pace SVR does exactly what it says on the packet, bringing the theatre and speed of the F-Type SVR and mixing it with a capable and convenient mid-size SUV package, at a price point that will be sure to appeal. It’s an old-school ethos, in a new world body.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR vs rivals

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q, BMW X3 M Competition, Porsche Macan Turbo

Specs:

Model: 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Engine: 5000cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, supercharger

Max power: 405kW

Max torque: 680Nm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 1932kg

0-100km/h: 4.3 seconds (claimed)

Economy: 11.7L/100km (claimed)

Price: $140,262

On sale: Now