Braaaap! I can hear the giggles from the back seat each time I stab the gas inside the 2021 Jaguar F-PACE SVR. As we crest another hill, I give it a little more juice to hear the staccato shot gun blasts from the four pipes in the rear. Pulling the big paddles behind the wheel produce a tight downshift and more cackles from the pipes. My daughter laughs with each rev. So do I.
This is a ridiculous SUV. Too bad it’s already dead.
2021 Jaguar F-PACE SVR overview
Performance SUVs have always been a bit odd, sort of like being asked to run a marathon with a book bag strapped to your back. But they’ve been around for awhile now, and they’ve gotten a lot better since those first iterations appeared. Enter this Jag. Tuned by SVR (Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Ratings team), it’s equivalent to M, AMG, and all the other alphabet soups car makers slap on the most performance-oriented models.
Debuting in 2019, the F-PACE has aged well and still looks modern, both inside and out. It’s also well-equipped, a good thing considering its nearly 100k asking price. But with the news that Jaguar is going to an all-electric fleet by 2025, the supercharged V-8 in this F-PACE is headed for the museum. That’s a shame, because it’s a big part of what gives this car such personality.
Performance Score: 8. Dino-roar.
The Jaguar F-PACE SVR has a 5.0 liter supercharged V-8 under the hood, and despite the lux looks and feel, it’s an animal when you tip the throttle. It’s the same V-8 from the F-TYPE sports car, and with 550 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, it’s as much speed as you might need in this type of SUV. But this V-8 has quite the history attached to it.
Remember when Ford owned Jaguar? One of the good things to come from that union was the AJ V-8. It was introduced back in 1996 and installed in a wide range of Lincolns, Fords, and even Aston Martins. Updated along the way, the V-8 in the F-PACE is the last of the breed.
And it’s somewhat of a miracle that the engine is even still in the F-PACE. Ford closed the Bridgend Plant in 2020, where the engine was produced. Despite the fact that Jaguar had already committed to electric power, they took on production of the AJ. Bravo to them.
It was worth it. Power is available anywhere in the rev range, and the whine of the supercharger is both intoxicating and fun. An adjustable switch for the exhaust note is on the center console, but it’s a waste of dash space. Just leave the valves open all the time.
Surprisingly, peak torque isn’t available until the tach hits 3,500, and that makes you toe the gas a little more than you might initially think if you’d like access all of the SVR’s performance. It’s not a bad thing – launches are never an ordeal, and revving the motor means you get to hear the F-PACE roar.
There’s a chassis too.
The rest of the car is excellent, if not as sharp as an X3 M. That’s ok; it’s more comfortable for daily duties. Turning the drive control knob to the “Race” setting firms up the electronic suspension and makes the steering heavier, though no more precise. It’s nice to let the car adjust for you – without separate controls for steering, suspension, etc. You’re not always asking “Did I set it up right?”
That’s part of the fun here. Stabbing the gas makes the nose pitch up, and it’s plenty responsive on the back roads. You might be carrying a back pack around, but you’re still in Nikes.
The only niggle in the performance of the F-PACE is its brakes. Initially difficult to modulate for smooth stops, driving the car for a few days will help you adjust. Otherwise, they perform very effectively.
Utility Score: 7. Shapely and stately.
The regular F-PACE is already an excellent SUV, and the SVR does nothing to take away from its hauling capability. The rear window has an aggressive slope to it, and the opening is a bit narrow for loading boxes, but there’s always a price to pay for sexy. Think of it as a good compromise between the boxy shape of a traditional SUV vs one with a sloping coupe roof line, such as an X4.
Rear seat space is very good, and my daughter’s car seat fit nicely. There’s also plenty of cubbies situated throughout the car. The glovebox is even cooled. Overall, the F-PACE makes for one bad-ass daily. Just keep away from opening the exhaust on your test drive, and your normally suspicious spouse would be none the wiser.
Efficiency: 4. V-fate.
Maybe it’s my fault. I did love to push that gas pedal at every stop light. But in this day and age, the 15 MPG I averaged for the week wasn’t doing the fate of the V-8 any favors. Gas prices being what they are, it’s something to consider.
Turbocharged 6-cylinder engines may perform just as well as this V-8, but none sound nearly as intoxicating.
Features and Comfort: 8. It’s special inside.
Step inside, and you’re greeted by a driver’s seat with single piece seat-backs, quilted Merino leather, and Alcantara. Settling in is easy, and the side bolsters offer excellent support. I always prefer longer seat bottom cushions to help support my 6’1 frame, but smaller drivers should find the seats perfect.
There’s a Meridian Sound System and an infotainment screen with a really nice graphics interface. If you’re coming from the business of iDrive, this is a breath of fresh air. The sunroof is gigantic and tinted in such a way that doesn’t let a lot of heat in.
A mix of Alcantara and leather lives throughout the cabin, particularly on the dashboard and doors. The console shifter is shaped like the throttle on a jet fighter, and paddles are integrated into the nicely-shaped steering wheel.
Disappointments? Not many. I prefer floor-mounted gas pedals that are bigger in size for easier throttle manipulation, but this might not affect you. I’d go with an interior color that doesn’t resemble Darth Vader’s bedroom. Some of the buttons are in odd places (the radio in particular – why can’t we just have a dial next to the screen?) Speaking of screens, it should be mounted higher in the dash so you don’t need to look down.
Performance SUVs should be tuned like the F-PACE SVR.
Are you taking your F-PACE SVR to the track? Probably not. And that makes me wonder why I need the super stiff suspensions and go-cart like steering response that might be in a typical high-performance SUV.
What I do want in my performance SUV is theater, and fun, along with performance I can access safely on the street. That’s easy to do in the SVR; just stab the gas.
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