REVIEW | 2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a fast, growly and graceful cat
Jaguar has a long history of building low-slung, heart-trembling cars such as the E-Type, XK-RS and the more recent F-Type V8s, but the company is a relative latecomer to the SUV craze.
And with the F-Pace SVR, it’s also later than most in the high-riding dragster contest. Does the large cat continue that pedigree in the modern age?
The basic recipe isn’t different from that which Alfa Romeo, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Audi and Porsche use to respectively cook up the Stelvio Q, X3/X4M Competition, GLC 63 S, RSQ5 and Macan Turbo, and it’s just as outrageous looking.
It has functional rather than faux air scoops in the bonnet, a wide and aggressive grille punctuated by slim, squinty headlights, and four big-bore tailpipes that emit the most vulgar noises.
Elegant, you might even describe its shape, which is neither conventionally upright like the X3 nor swoopy like the X4. There’s a throbbing 405kW and 680Nm 5.0l supercharged V8 up front that’s mated to a sharp-shifting eight-speed auto ’box.
You can tailor the attitude of the hardware and it has an eco mode that moderates throttle inputs, mutes the exhaust, softens the dampers and institutes earlier up-changes to save fuel. Using our Herculean self-restraint when driving, it averaged 14.7l/100km during its stay.
To begin with the act of violence, thumb in Dynamic mode and tap the gear lever leftwards for sporty sequential manual mode.
In a straight line the SVR is claimed to hit the 100km/h mark from standstill in 4.3 seconds and it’s rated with a 283km/h top speed.
It does not object to being hustled fast into regular corners as it’s equipped with uprated springs, dampers that firm up, strong brakes, as well as an electronic differential to help with cornering.
It doesn’t wallow much and the all-wheel traction tidies up much of the unavoidable consequences of its weight and the driver taking liberties.
It’s only when you point its angry nose at a racetrack, a place where most owners will hardly visit, where it feels more like an SUV. Under these plainly unusual circumstances it understeers prominently midcorner and the shortcomings of being equipped with a reasonably direct but lightly served steering ratio for ease of daily use turn bothersome.
The tiller didn’t firm up as much as I’d have liked in sports mode, but it’s a sensational road performer and owners can use its humongous power reserves for swift overtaking, or to just blow off the cobwebs.
It’s impressively comfortable when cruising too. There is a distinct lack of road and tyre roar from inside and its damping on bad surfaces is remarkable for an SUV riding on optionally fitted low-profile 22” wheels. The good build quality and cushiness inside a cabin fitted with sporty, leather-covered bucket seats enhance the premium look.
The test car featured a top-notch suite of electronic gadgets, some standard, such as adaptive headlamps, and some optional, such as the many exterior cameras.
One criticism though, Jaguar. A mouse controller or chunkier buttons would have been a more convenient way to select engine modes instead of the thin rectangular switch or the labyrinth of a digital menu.
It’s a practical vehicle nonetheless and its 2,787mm wheelbase has no discernible shortage in room for rear passengers. Boot space is 650l with the seats up and 1,750l when folded, making it the most cavernous luggage area in the sector.
Though it doesn’t have the clinical handling possessed by the BMW M pair and Porsche, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is probably the most entertaining package in terms of bang-for-buck in the segment.
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
WE LIKE: Space, pace, exhaust roar
WE DISLIKE: Vicious fuel consumption
VERDICT: It’s the most spectacular underdog
Motor News star rating
Design * * * * *
Performance * * * * *
Economy * *
Ride/handling * * * *
Safety * * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * * *
BMW X3M Competition, 390kW/750Nm — R1,510,686
Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic, 375kW/700Nm — R1,717,620
Porsche Macan Turbo, 324kW/550Nm — R1,614,000
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 375kW/600Nm — R1,675,000
Type: Supercharged V8
Type: 8-speed Auto
Type: All wheel drive
Top speed: 283km/h
0-100km/h: 4.3 sec (as claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 11.9l/100km (as claimed), 14.7l (as tested)
Panoramic roof, Bluetooth, navigation, auto on/off and adaptive headlamps, cruise control, HD Virtual Instrument Display, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, keyless entry, rear park distance control, multifunction steering wheel controls, rain sensing wipers, 21" wheels, leather upholstery, EBD, Brake assist, ABS, stability control, six airbags, bright sport pedals, electronic active differential with torque vectoring by braking
Warranty: Five years/100,000km
Maintenance plan distance: Five years/100,000km
Lease*: R33,489 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit