Road Test Review – 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR – By Carl Malek

Jaguar is a company that is finally embracing the winds of change. While its counterpart Land Rover was always known as the SUV side of the coin, Jaguar was perfectly content with being the option for people that wanted sporty luxury cars that also infused high degrees of style and design in their flanks. While this worked well in prior decades, it also caused Jaguar to be far behind the curve when SUV and CUV demand boomed, leaving the brand to suffer from dwindling sales numbers. But the British luxury car maker chose to fight fire with fire, and recently created SUV entries of their own to truly bring the fight to the luxury elite. The F-Pace was the first of these, and it has since become one of the most stylish entries in the luxury SUV segment. But what happens if you take style, and add a massive infusion of muscle milk and a big beefy engine to the mix?


Eager and Ready To Play:

The Jaguar F-Pace already has a sensuous design, so SVO engineers focused on helping the big SUV unleash its inner wild child. This includes a revamped lower front bumper that features bigger lower front air intakes, hood and side vents for the engine and brakes, as well as functional front and rear diffusers to help keep the big cat planted to the tarmac when thrashing it through sharp turns. The SVR also comes equipped with quad exhausts that feature a dynamic butterfly valve system for the pipes. The engine note can be quieted, but we are not like that, and preferred to hear the feral soundtrack that it truly has to offer, it even bangs and pops in a delightfully satisfying manner. Your neighbors won’t like it, but this is a welcome consequence of hearing the sweet melody that signaled our tester was ready and eager to please.

Our Firenze Red tester had the optional 22-inch wheels, but buyers can also opt for smaller 21-inch wheels if they so choose for a more discreet styling statement. The rear styling still retains the F-Pace’s high degree of charm and style, with the F-Type inspired taillights helping to create a distinctive exclamation point in nighttime driving. When compared to other performance luxury SUVs, we think the Jaguar has a distinct edge in design. With BMW‘s kidney grilles growing to unheard of size, the Audi Q5 being too busy of a canvas, and the Mercedes Benz GLC favoring the elegant side of things the F-Pace certainly stands out as a compelling entry in a very crowded utility segment, though the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrafolglio is a formidable challenge for the stylish Brit.


Luxurious Interior Falls A Step Behind Rivals:

The F-Pace is already a very opulent vehicle to begin with, but the SVR model pushes the elegance factor up another notch. Supple premium leather covers every touchable surface with the seats, door panels, dashboard, and other surfaces all getting adorned with the good stuff. The seats in particular feature a very stylish quilted diamond pattern with red contrast stitching. The seats are available in two other two-tone colors, or flat black for those that prefer a simpler hue for their performance driving experience. In addition to the leather accents, SVO designers even threw in real and carbon fiber trim to further highlight the SVR’s role as a performance focused offering. This allows it to be on par with the X3 M and the GLC AMG in creating a very distinctive environment for their occupants.

However, in the case of the Jag, the environment also highlights some of the age that its infotainment system is starting to show. Unlike newer JLR offerings that are rolling out the company’s new dual-screen infotainment system, our tester makes do with the older InControl Touch Pro Infotainment system which is housed in a 10.3 inch touchscreen. The system now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability (standard on SVR) a better navigation system, Spotify and even WhatsApp for good measure. Jaguar claims that the system has been tweaked for improved response times, but during our time with it, we noticed that inputs were still sluggish, with the navigation system occasionally taking some time to process addresses. We personally prefer the newer dual-screen setup for the improved levels of functionality as well as the speedier load times for various features within the infotainment system.

Lastly, the 14-way power adjustable heated and cooled leather seats are the stars of the show here. Like other Jaguar models, the cushions are a bit on the firm side, but we like the way that they manage to hug you in place during spirited driving, while still providing excellent levels of long haul comfort for longer jaunts. Front leg and headroom is good, and we like the way that The rear bench also gets the same quilted leather appointments, and they even offer 37.2 inches of rear legroom which bests the Stelvio by a few inches. Visibility is also good for the most part, though the sloping roofline does create big blindspots in the rear quarters.


Supercharged V8 Plays One Final Swan Song Before It Ends Production:

Before we get into how awesome the supercharged 5.0 liter V8 is, we might as well get the lone bit of bad news out of the way. The V8’s time in production is coming to an end. This is due to Ford recently announcing that it intends to shutter its Bridgend plant in Wales, England by September 2020. The plant was responsible for producing several engines including Ford’s 1.5 liter Dragon four cylinder engine, and more importantly the 5.0 liter supercharged V8 used in SVR models. JLR for its part has not formally confirmed what will succeed the engine when the closure happens, but look for that information to emerge in the distant future.

Back in the present, the V8 that came bundled with our tester proved to be an eager beast, with our tester producing 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. All of this grunt is sent to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic which allows the F-Pace SVR to rocket its way to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The noise that it makes when it does so is probably one of the best that we have ever heard especially the way the exhaust bangs and pops when you let off the gas. The Jaguar’s supercharger means that engine response is virtually immediate, and it even manages to have a bit more urgency than the 505 horsepower twin-turbocharged 2.9 liter V6 that is nestled in the Stelvio. It also manages to outshine the twin-turbocharged V8 that is equipped to the Mercedes GLC AMG

Our tester also managed to deliver impressive amounts of handling, but we wish that Jaguar provided more adjustments for some of the driving modes. Unlike BMW and Mercedes which allow you to adjust items such as the suspension, throttle response, and even the steering independently to create your own distinct custom settings, the Jag limits you to pre-determined pre-sets only. Despite this limitation, our tester proved to be agile and nimble when faced with sharp corners and even moderately challenging sweepers do their part to help make the driver feel like Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel.

But ultimately SUVs are all about being a good family vehicle (even if they have a supercharged V8 shoehorned into them.) to find out just how good the F-Pace excelled in this role, we enlisted its services to make the trek down to Cleveland, Ohio for the IMS Motorcycle Show. The trek down exposed the Jag to both long freeway jaunts, quiet rural routes, and even winding sections of tarmac near the various picnic areas that dotted the Rocky River. Normally this would be a formidable workout for any automobile, but the F-Pace managed to tackle it all without breaking a sweat. The stiffer suspension does make its presence felt when it encounters rougher sections of tarmac, but the punishment the driver recieves when that happens is not as bad as some of its rivals. Braking in our tester was strong, with the F-Pace delivering strong tops every time.  Fuel economy is usually the last thing on the minds of many F-Pace SVR buyers, but for those that are curious, the Jag’s figures are roughly on par with its rivals, with the F-Pace managing 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the freeway. For comparison, it bests the BMW X3 M and its pitiful 14 mpg city rating with only the Benz and the Alfa having marginally higher figures in both city and freeway driving.


Value Quotient:

As is the case with an SUV that is this powerful and opulent, there is a price to be paid for the privilege of having this kitty in your driveway. Base SVR models start at $80,600 with optional equipment and extra accessories easily pushing that figure over the six figure mark. Thankfully, our tester did not push the boundaries of price, with our lightly optioned tester ringing in at $89,900. While our tester did not have some of the more bespoke frills that we have seen in fully equipped F-Pace models, it did come with some notable extras including the $3,600 Drivers Assistance package, the fore-mentioned $1,530 22-inch wheels, and the $1,010 carbon fiber accents. This pricing may seem lofty, but it is within the ballpark of many of its rivals. The Stelvio Quadrifolglio for example comes with in a few bucks of the Jag, and adding options also puts it within striking distance of our tester. The X3 M and the GLC AMG do initially start cheaper than the Jag with those two ringing in at $70,895 and $71,795 respectively, but like with the Alfa, adding options and accessories causes their prices to rapidly go up too.


But wheras the Alfa is an unhinged wild child with its performance, and the established German entries are slowly becoming more mainstream, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a unique choice. It has distinctive styling, heritage, and raw performance to help it stand out with family buyers looking for a compelling alternative to a formal sedan. Jaguar has also done a very good job differentiating the SVR from the base versions of the F-Pace that cost half the price and deliver half the performance. But the luxury performance SUV segment is a very crowded field, and with some of its rivals upping their game in both power and technology, the Jaguar will have a lot of work to do to help it standout from the crowd. We look forward to seeing the next generation SVR to see what engine Jaguar will use to fill the shoes of the outgoing 5.0 liter V8.