Tested: Jaguar F-Pace SVR is an achingly desirable performance SUV
JOHANNESBURG - There are few things on this earth that sound as spine-tinglingly sonorous as a V8 engine, but with the world shifting to smaller engines and battery power, these big lumps of metal are becoming an endangered species. Even AMG is looking set to replace the V8 in the C63 with a blown out four-pot motor.
But a snippet of news that I came across recently gave me some renewed hope in the eight cylinder’s survival as a mechanical species. Jaguar Land Rover currently sources its 5-litre supercharged V8 flagship engine from Ford, but since the latter is ending production of this particular unit, Jaguar has decided to buy up the tooling and produce it in-house for the foreseeable future.
And as luck would have it, there was a Jaguar F-Pace SVR in my driveway on that day, meaning I could celebrate the news in pedal-stomping style.
And yes, if you want to experience this engine in all its glory then the F-Type R is the one to go for, but if you need more space than that then the F-Pace SVR is an extremely enticing all-rounder. It’s not the most practical SUV on the market, but you can put people in the back and the boot is a decent size, lugging 650 litres. While it’s big enough to serve as a family vehicle, Jaguar has thankfully avoided the temptation of making it too big and as a result the F-Pace still feels fairly nimble on the road.
For the record, it’s slightly longer and wider than a BMW X3, of which there is also an M version to serve as a direct rival to the SVR.
Priced at R1.65 million the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is only a few grand more expensive than that aforementioned Munich rival, which costs R1.64m, and it’s a good 220 grand less expensive than the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 AMG 4Matic+.
While both German rivals are good for 375kW, the Jaguar SVR trumps them with its 405kW output, while its torque figure of 680Nm puts it way above the 600Nm Beemer, but 20 newtons below the Merc.
However, the bigger Jag is still the slowest from 0-100km/h if we go by the manufacturer supplied figures, with the SVR doing its dash in 4.3 seconds, versus 4.1s for the BMW and 3.8 in the case of the Merc.
However, all three are astoundingly quick by midsize SUV standards, but to me the enjoyment factor provided by the Jaguar’s vocal and burbly V8 gives it a slight edge over the BMW. It also helps that the Jag’s engine breathes through a variable-valve exhaust system with reduced back pressure and increased gas flow.
Of course, it’s not an economical car and even if you feather-foot it you’re going to battle to keep consumption below 13 litres per 100km. Drive it more enthusiastically, however, and you’re looking at 15 l/100 or more.
Power goes to all four wheels through a smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive system.
While an SUV is never going to dart through corners like a sports car, like its BMW rival the Jaguar actually corners pretty smartly for an SUV, and there’s a directness to the steering that adds to the sensation of agility. Of course, it certainly helps that the SVR features a sports-suned electronic differential and a torque vectoring system that uses individual wheel braking to enhance agility through tight corners. The vehicle’s Dynamic Stability Control system has also been adapted to suit the Jag’s increased performance potential, and as you’d expect at this level drivers can choose various drive modes, including a Dynamic Driving Mode that’s unique to SVR models. This initiates faster, more responsive gearshifts, sharper throttle responses and increased steering response.
Despite our test car featuring massive 22-inch optional wheels (21” rims are standard) the ride quality was not uncomfortable.
Talking comfort, the cabin is as cushy as you’d expect from a Jaguar, and it feels the sports car part too thanks to those race-style sports seats with integrated headrests and 14-way electric adjustment upfront.
As for the on-board tech, the SVR is suitably digitised for a modern luxury car, featuring a 25cm Touch Pro infotainment system, 31cm high definition instrument cluster and 4G WiFi for up to eight devices. Other standard features include dual-zone climate control, keyless start, auto high beam assist, rain sensing wipers and Lane Keep Assist. But you will have to pay extra for features like head-up display, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree parking camera.
I haven’t mentioned the styling until now, with that being a rather subjective thing, but in my book the Jaguar F-Pace is one of the better looking SUVs out there, and in SVR trim it really just strikes the perfect pose.
But there’s more to this package than just good looks and if you’re looking for an alternative to the German usuals, I can tell you that there’s a lot of driving satisfaction to be had here, but it doesn’t come at the cost of luxury and practicality. This one really ticks all the performance SUV boxes.