Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: November 18, 2019
The Jaguar F-Pace is the latest cat in the litter to receive the SVR treatment and with it, a full-bodied 5.0-litre supercharged V8, the same one in the F-Type SVR. Here, it’s tuned to deliver a colossal 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed transmission, and said power gets routed through an all-wheel drive system that favours the rear wheels. The springs have been stiffened by 30% in the front and 10% in the rear, anti-roll bars have been added to counteract body lean, a new sports exhaust livens up the theatre, and larger brakes accompany the new 21-inch wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires. The steering, suspension, and gearbox have been further fine combed for a more athletic personality. I admire how Jaguar kept the SVR visually discreet as well, with the only distinguishable features being the quad exhaust tips, hood vents, functional air vents next to the wheel arches, new wheel designs, enlarged front air intakes, and the exclusive paint you see in our photographs called Ultra Blue.
In all, the SVR sprints from 0-100 km/h in a swift 4.3 seconds, enough to decimate dedicated sports cars but not enough to bring the fight to its direct rivals, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S (3.8 s), Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (3.8 s), and BMW X3 M Competition (4.1 s). Now you may be scratching your head and thinking, “wait, the SVR has more horsepower than all three of those SUVs. What gives?” To which I have but one answer: tires. The SVR comes with all-seasons while its rivals come with dedicated performance tires. Give this SVR some sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber and I guarantee you it will be quicker. It’s not a weight issue, as the Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive architecture keeps it light and agile, clocking in at 1,995 kg, splitting the weight difference between the AMG and the Alfa.
While it may not be the quickest, those Pirellis have proven themselves to be sticky and reliable even on slippery slushy surfaces. Even without proper winter tires in this unusual Siberian-like weather, braking distances are short and hardly met with ABS intervention. Grip levels are particularly high, and the rear enjoys coming out to play with deliberate throttle inputs and careful steering finesse. The SVR is surprisingly friendly and playful too. You don’t need to be Sebastian Vettel to get the most out of this chassis, as it’s never outrageously out of control where you feel the confidence zapped out of your hands. You always feel in command.
And Jaguar is aware that you don’t need a terribly stiff ride for an SUV to feel sporty. The suspension tune is a work of art, absorbing even the harshest of impacts with supple precision, yet tactile enough to feel the road surface and available tire grip through the organic and well-weighted steering. Even with the optional 22-inch wheels on our test vehicle, there is a nice balance in the way it handles everyday roads, and demonstrates road mannerisms that you won’t find in the X3 M or GLC. The SVR is slightly larger than the latter two as well but it doesn’t feel like it from the front seats. While there is a considerable amount of weight to manage, body lean is minimal and that supercharged V8 more than makes up for it, delivering dizzying propulsion the moment you step on the gas. Having such instantaneous throttle response outside of an EV car is a rare treat in today’s automotive market dominated by turbochargers, and it’s not only refreshing but also captivating.
It’s the noise too. What a sound. It wouldn’t have really mattered if the SVR did not drive well or behaved itself over broken pavement. This is a savage orchestra that engineers would sell their souls for: shrilling, titillating, and enough to rupture eardrums when bruising through a tunnel. Only the AMG comes even close to delivering the same kind of bass-filled crescendos as the SVR. You can control it with just a touch of a button as well, meaning you can cruise around in comfort settings but have the sound at full blast. Have a listen in our Exhaust Notes video below.
The cabin receives some SVR garnish as well, including the scalloped front seats that are slim and race-like. The integrated headrests provide enough padding, as do the side bolsters despite their thin frame. That design follows to the rear sculpted seats as well. The center console is tidy with a walled center area that encompasses the new pistol-grip gear shifter (that replaces the outgoing rotary dial). This also offers a secure area to stow your small items like a phone or wallet, and ensures they don't flop or fly around when you’re on a spirited drive (trust me, this will happen frequently). The SVR steering wheel also receives some finely milled aluminum paddle shifters.
A crisp and high-definition digital screen encapsulates the instrument panel, with an equally pleasing 12.3-inch screen in the center. Rather than delegating all functions to the touchscreen, Jaguar was keen to keep physical hard buttons for some high traffic features like the volume, HVAC, and a dedicated ‘seat’ button that summons the heated seats menu. Furthermore, the electrically heated front windshield is a convenient feature that has become indispensable in my brisky winter commutes. You see those squiggly zig-zag lines running down the windscreen? Those relay heat and can melt a frozen windshield in less than a few minutes. Yeah, it can be a nuisance to replace if you ever get a decent sized chip or crack, and installing an aftermarket remote start feature would be an alternative remedy, but I think it’s well worth it.
Having a V8 engine is one thing. Having it stuffed inside a compact SUV is another. The justification for a $100,000 compact SUV may be a tough one, especially when you can buy larger and more luxurious land cruisers like the Range Rover Sport or BMW X6 M50i for that money, but with a decisive supercharger and all-weather traction to boot, this F-Pace SVR is a scintillating riot that barks and howls with no remorse. There may be others like it, and the examples from AMG and M show us clever ways of tackling the same formula, but neither of them have the road manners, the British charm, or the measured poise provided by the SVR, especially in the snow. It may not be the quickest, but it sure as hell makes the biggest entrance.
Model: 2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Paint Type: Ultra Blue
Base Price: $92,000
Price as Tested: $102,095
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,737 / 2,071 / 1,667
Curb weight (kg): 1,995
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 550 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 502 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.4
Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Verde; 265/40R22 front, 295/35R22 rear