Car reviews - Jaguar - F-Pace - SVR
Performance, understated SVR visual upgrades, strong brakes, decent dynamics, roomy interior, solid build quality, comparative value, abolished rotary dial shifter, awesome soundtrack
Room for improvement
Stiff ride, still a 2000kg SUV hurtling relentlessly around corners, thirsty engine, annoying driver’s door switchgear
Jaguar throws the F-Pace SVR cat among the BMW M and Mercedes-AMG SUV pigeons
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9 Aug 2019
DID you know that the Jaguar F-Pace sells less than one-tenth of the volume Mercedes-Benz manages with its rivalling GLC-Class?
Great news for lemmings, but bad news if dynamics and comfort are top priorities in your mid-size premium SUV.
However, JLR hopes the super-keenly priced SVR (which is $25K under its AMG GLC63 S equivalent) may help remedy the imbalance, especially as the British-built bruiser provides similar engine outputs as well as a cracking chassis.
If you insist that your luxury SUV barge goes, steers and stops like a BMW M3, then endless disappointment awaits, because despite there being no shortage of M, AMG, RS-badged premium mid-sizers, the reality is none come close. Like, the gap is a chasm you can roll a Bentley Bentayga into.
Truthfully, the same also applies to the Jaguar F-Pace SVR – the Special Vehicle Operations, err, special that is designed to keep the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S and its ilk on their (tippy) toes.
That said, the British contender does have a few aces up its engorged wheelarches, beginning with a monster of a V8 with a thunderous soundtrack created to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand. It’s a colossal exhaust orchestra that will seduce and unsettle in equal measure.
Then there’s the SVR’s actual performance, reeling in the road from a higher-than-natural vantage point that makes the whole speed thing seem surreal. Even with all eight cylinders in full war cry, this SUV masks its actual velocity with licence-obliterating ease.
From the moment you mash the pedal down to the firewall, the subsequent, instant thrust forward is like watching a Hollywood action blockbuster – you know the explosion is happening with relentless force and ferocity despite the visuals being slowed down. The F-Pace just doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast.
What really separates the SUVs from the actual sports sedans and coupes that they’re trying so hard to emulate are corners. Yes, the SVR has towering grip, the steering is quick and faithful without seeming fidgety or tense, but there just isn’t any way you can escape from the mindset that there is all this high-set weight attempting to change direction at unseemly speeds.
To be fair to JLR, the same applies to the X5, GLC, Q5 and others with athletic aspirations like the F-Pace, and the Brit does a better job than most by providing feedback and surety through the tightest turns, but a sportscar alternative? Never.
Still, put away the horns and take out the angel wings, and the SVR turns into a speedy family truckster par excellence, right? Wrong. Not if you value ride comfort, since our example rode on the optional 22-inch alloys that look fantastic but telegraph every road surface irregularity with annoying regularity. And that’s with the adaptive dampers set to Comfort mode.
Never mind, for smooth surfaces will soon have you forgetting the stiff suspension and instead have you revelling at how nicely finished the roomy and pleasant if unremarkable interior is.
The SVR’s move away from the irritating rotary dial for gear selection is a step in the right direction, the seats are comfy and the seating and driving position feel just right.
Ensconced inside, the outside world can feel far, far away. However, the multimedia system seems dated and fiddly, and the whole dash overall has a drab look to it. Oh, well. At least our F-Pace was beautifully finished and rattle-free.
The price is right, the performance is stonking, the sound it makes epic, and the dynamics up to the task of keeping the SVR from spearing off into the scenery, backed up by terrifically strong brakes. These and the handsome styling make the Jaguar one of the better examples of a breed that is literally as well as metaphorically stretching the sporting point.
If you must, put the fastest F-Pace at the top of your shopping list. Or buy something like an Audi S4 Avant.
Model release date: 1 August 2019
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