Even when pushing the SVR, the experience inside the cabin is focused on enjoying the drive.
After spending a bit of time with the 2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR on some wintery backroads, I was genuinely taken aback. The SVR is the high-caliber, no-holds-barred performance version of Jaguar’s popular crossover. Since it seems that all anyone wants to buy these days is crossovers, they’re starting to get fun as manufacturers find ways to pack excitement into a utilitarian vehicle. When that happens without compromising functionality, the results can be extremely impressive, and the F-Pace SVR is no exception.
The SVR moniker represents Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations division, and it’s their job to take already impressive Jaguars and make them world-class performance vehicles. Typically, you’ll find the Jaguar F-Pace (reviewed here) with one of a couple adequate but fairly tame four cylinders, or a much more spritely 380 horsepower supercharged V6 in the sporty S model. However, the SVR uses Jaguar’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that makes a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500RPM. Power flows through a precisely tuned and lightning quick eight-speed automatic, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for those who feel the need to intervene.
Standing on the go pedal, the SVR rockets to 100km/h in a staggering 4.3 seconds, pushing on strong towards its rated top speed of 283km/h. These are shocking numbers for an SUV, only topped by the likes of the Porsche Macan Turbo and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (reviewed here). What’s most impressive is the grace and comfort that the SVR delivers while posting these numbers. Torque vectoring of the rear wheels and an active rear differential, coupled with a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system keeps the F-Pace SVR going exactly where you point it with zero drama.
The dynamic dampers and stiffer rate springs keep bounce and lean to a minimum; and somehow the team at SVR have broken the code and managed to build a platform that not only delivers impressive control for high-performance driving, but also outstanding comfort and smoothness, even in the most aggressive Dynamic driving mode. The suspension always seems to be just right for the situation, whether you’re tearing up corners or just grinding through a commute – I don’t think I’ve come across any other vehicle that feels so good at both ends of the driving spectrum.
Even when pushing the SVR, the experience inside the cabin is focused on enjoying the drive. Wind and road noise is all but eliminated, and the Jaguar is always the perfect picture of composure. The electric power steering is well-weighted and provides plenty of engaging feedback without being a burden, and the oversized brakes (compared to a regular F-Pace) haul the SVR down to a stop with authority. One interesting quirk about the brakes is that they do squeal under light use. We noticed the same with the Range Rover Sport SVR (reviewed here), and can only conclude that the brake pads are formulated for aggressive stops, so when granny-driving around town they tend to protest a bit.
It may seem a bit silly, but one of the reasons I didn’t want to stop driving this SUV is the sound. First there’s the supercharger whine from the front end, which is then totally overpowered by the exhaust blasting out of four big crude chrome tips – exactly what they should be on a performance machine like this. The sound that emits from those tips is like nothing else, it’s just a symphony that barks, crackles and pops ostentatiously, if you have a soul, you can’t help but smile.
All this excitement does come at a cost when it’s time to visit the gas station. Through our week of rush-hour commuting we observed an average of 14.3L/100km. Of course, the fire-breathing supercharged V8 needs 91-octane or better as well, but that comes with the territory when we’re talking about $90,000+ high performance SUVs.
On the outside the standard F-Pace is one of the better looking midsize crossovers on the market, but it just doesn’t look much like a Jaguar. The SVR gets a bit closer to that villainous Jaguar look thanks to unique front and rear fascia, big 22-inch gloss black wheels, hood vents, big air intakes and a rear diffuser. Our tester came finished in Ultra Blue, which caught plenty of attention, but finished in a more subdued color the F-Pace would blend into traffic fairly well, until those big exhaust tips begin to sing their song.
The cabin gets treated to gorgeous heated and ventilated racing seats finished in two-tone quilted leather, and unlike traditional racing seats these are supremely comfortable yet well bolstered and supportive. Beyond the seats, the rest of the interior appears straight out of a standard F-Pace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hard plastics can be found on the door panels, and most of the switchgear lacks any real sense of luxury. Our tester came with an optional faux suede headliner, which added a bit more class to the space than the standard microfiber cloth otherwise would.
The infotainment system now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the main interface itself remains confusing and clunky to operate. Where the interior scores higher is on practicality with a cargo area significantly larger than competitors like the Porsche Macan and BMW X3 (reviewed here), and despite the racing seat inspired design of the rear split bench, it folds nearly flat just like any other good crossover. There is plenty of passenger room both in the front and rear, and storage up front is adequate thanks to deep door pockets and oversized cupholders in the console.
The F-Pace SVR starts at $92,000, which sounds like a pile of money, but from a perspective of capability for dollar it’s not out of line. The base SVR comes pretty well setup with the quilted race seats and all the performance goodies as standard. In addition, our tester got the optional 22-inch wheels ($2,550), the interior luxury package ($1,475) which includes nice-to-have gadgets such as a cooled glovebox, mood lighting, four-zone climate control, air quality sensor and the suede headliner.
Our test vehicle also got the heated rear windshield ($400), which was fantastic to have during our recent ice storm, and the heads-up-display ($1,020). Our total as tested price came to $100,407 and I firmly believe it would be difficult to find something else on the market that could match the F-Pace SVR in performance, comfort and practicality for comparable money.
As a Jaguar enthusiast, and owner of a couple of Jaguar’s classic sports cars, the idea of the F-Pace always felt a bit un-Jaguar-like to me. The SVR treatment has changed that; the F-Pace SVR is a Jaguar worthy of the name, now in a platform that makes the most sense for today’s buyers. To me, this is a homerun, and I can’t wait to see what else the SVR division has in store for us.