REVIEW | 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a theatrical brute
You may have noticed a thread between reviews of performance cars over the past 12 months.
In many cases, current iterations of popular sporting breeds seem quieter than their direct predecessors. One example is the latest Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI, noticeably toned down in the habit of grunting and flatulence versus the former vehicle.
The BMW G80 M3 Competition is another one we could single out. Gone is the wild metallic ring and bronchitis-like crackles of old, making way for a battle cry that sounds repressed even with the exhaust emoji on the centre tunnel activated. This is all not coincidence, of course. As you know, stricter emissions laws in markets abroad have thrown a muzzle on certain things.
So it was quite a surprise when, from behind the wheel of the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, there appeared to be absolutely no filtration or suppression of its rambunctious V8 and the accompanying rips and pops. With its ever-present burble on idle (like a bear doing its morning Listerine ritual), you are never left in doubt as to whether the engine is running.
The F-Pace SVR was first introduced to the market in April 2019, billed as the “highest-performance” sport-utility vehicle you could buy from the manufacturer. It arrived on the scene packing 405kW and 680Nm, with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.3 seconds. An updated version arrived in August this year with even more power. Well, a little bit more: now the 5.0-litre supercharged unit delivers 700Nm of torque, with kW output remaining the same. Still, the additional bump in twist has trimmed some time off the acceleration figure. It will now perform the sprint in four seconds flat.
It still uses an eight-speed automatic, but Jaguar lifted the torque-converter from the manic XE SV Project 8 to better cope with the extra punch. You also get an enhanced launch control function that optimises grip for squabble-free thrust off the line. Not that the SVR struggled with purchase in any case, thanks to its all-wheel drive system.
In attack mode, with Dynamic engaged and the exhaust system set to its throatiest level, the F-Pace makes an incredible sound and leaps with a swiftness that is at odds with its 2,058kg mass. Acceleration is obviously strong on take-off, but there is a noticeable shove in the back once you grab second, when the engine seems to dump a dollop of torque to all four wheels at once. Carry on in this way and you could see its top speed of 286km/h.
The F-Pace has always been well-regarded for its nimbleness and assured body control, quelling the downsides usually associated with taller ride heights. Adaptive damping suspension helps the SVR strike a balance between comfort and crispness, while the electronic power steering has been tweaked to offer greater feedback. It would be difficult to describe the feel of the tiller as textured or communicative, but it sure is direct and responsive in complying with the reflexes of the driver.
You will be happy to know that stopping ability was not neglected, with a recalibrated braking system that includes shorter pedal travel for a more assured feel when modulating the anchors. Luggage space in the F-Pace is fair, at 613l with the rear seats up or 1,440l with them folded flat. Its ground clearance is decent too: 213mm is a safe amount should you feel like tackling the odd gravel road. Though it rolls on 21-inch wheels, the 40-profile tyres offer a reasonable buffer against shallow potholes and other road imperfections.
Visually, there is no mistaking its status with lesser models in the F-Pace line-up. Especially when it wears the shade of Atacama Orange, which our tester sported. Some of the ducts and slats might seem exaggerated, but Jaguar promises it is all functional, reducing aerodynamic lift by as much as 35% and affording a lower drag coefficient.
Though it was bred to be rambunctious and speed-hungry, dialling the SVR down into a more docile setting reveals it is also capable of handling a commute without histrionics. For those occasions when you just want to get home in relative peace and quiet.
The front seats are quite firm, with a bucket design and heating capability for the butts of driver and passenger. The steering wheel is heated too. This updated SVR also gained the latest version of the company’s Pivi Pro infotainment system, an interface we have reported on from other Jaguar Land Rover products, one worthy of high praise. Its massive 11.4-inch display spans the width of the central fascia and offers clear, simple menus with large tiles.
It is priced at R1,835,700 before options. For interest’s sake, a BMW X3 M Competition has a basic price of R1,970,562 while the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S goes for R1,872,000. If you like your medium-sized performance sport utilities loud and a little left-field, the F-Pace SVR makes a compelling argument.