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First Drive: Jaguar F-Pace SVR

By / 4 weeks ago / Road Tests / No Comments

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Jaguar’s F-Pace finally gets a beating V8 heart and it’s something quite special, finds Jonathan Musk

SECTOR Large SUV   PRICE £75,335   FUEL 22.6mpg   CO2 272g/km

Taunting us for over a year, Jaguar has finally brought to market its F-Pace SUV equipped with a pulse-raising 5.0-litre V8.

Following in the footsteps of the Range Rover Sport SVR, Jaguar’s special branch of engineers, SVO (Special Vehicle Operations), has worked its magic on the aluminium F-Pace and built a wondrous thing.

It wasn’t a simple case of planting a V8 into Jaguar’s largest SUV either, we’re told, with the car having undergone a full chassis and suspension reworking, as well as subtle yet useful external aerodynamic magic and bold interior highlights to make it stand out from the regular car.

Making an SUV handle is no easy job, with the laws of physics taking command. However, chassis dynamics have been fettled accordingly with a 5% stiffer chassis and 30% stiffer front springs and 10% stiffer rears. Unsprung mass has been reduced too, for example with the sizeable twin-disc brakes and four pot callipers weighing a full two kilos less than the standard cars’ anchors.

Handling is precise and rewarding, though despite the admittedly excellent suspension setup, there’s no getting around the fact the car would be better if lower. For the first time on Jaguar’s ‘Pace’ car line-up, the SVR benefits from an e-diff too. All this contributes to being able to handle the severity of the V8 powerplant, that roars, spits fire and feels ever-ready to consume the planet. It’s responsive and free-revving, though this is old-school grunt not shrill tuning.

Chassis tuning is impeccable. In comfort mode, the new 22-inch Pirelli P-Zero summer tyres grip the road like dried Weetabix to a bowl and yet the adjustable dampers ensure your spleen is kept where it belongs.

Dynamic mode changes things dramatically, opening up the variable valve quad exhaust to full Pavarotti and bellowing out plenty of snap, crackle and pops. Suspension is tightened, steering more accurate, gear changes brisker. It’s monstrously fast, with 0-62mph taking a shoulder-dislocating 4.3 seconds thanks to the engine’s 550hp and 680Nm torque. And in case you wondered, top speed is 176mph. I mention this not to suggest trying it, but to point out just how impressive this machine really is. And, while it clearly won’t win any Greenpeace awards, CO2 is ‘just’ 272g/km. To put that into perspective, two decades earlier that’d be the figure for a 2.0-litre mid-range saloon.

Translation? The SVR is stiffer, lighter and of course, faster.

SVO has raided Jaguar’s parts bin for interior items, with occupants treated to new slimline seats that increase internal space and offer a sporty cushion, along with a sport-shift gear selector and sports steering wheel.

Oddly timed to market while everyone else is beating the eco drum, Jaguar’s tardiness in introducing the car means it has considerable competition in the form of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. However, both are likely to be last-hurrahs, and in the case of the Jaguar the end of its 5.0-litre V8 that’s seen service for what feels like decades. But it’s like Rocky Balboa – past it, but still relevant and packs a punch.

The Verdict

The SVR is entertaining – thrilling even – yet it’s mature and capable of settling down after a day’s tarmac pounding. It’s a credit to Jaguar’s SVO team that they’ve been able to turn the F-Pace into something unique and special. It’s Jaguar engineering at its finest.

Star Rating

4.5/5

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.