New Jaguar F-Pace SVR (2019-) First Drive Review


Test location: French Riviera, Nice

A Porsche Macan Turbo S has 400PS. Add the performance pack, and it becomes 440PS. And that’s quite a lot. A useful yardstick, then, when Jaguar pounces on to the scene and blows it out of the water with 550PS.

You see, Jaguar Land Rover’s “Special Vehicle Operations” division got its hands on the F-Pace. And it went utterly insane.

It bettered the Porsche’s engine power by 25 per cent, and suddenly the Jaguar F-Pace SVR was born.

But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, Jaguar, who admitted using the Macan as a benchmark, found it so easy to beat the German car’s performance that it had all the time in the world to grab a coffee or sixteen, before returning to fill the rest of its development time sorting out everything else.

The F-Pace SVR is an out and out monster – a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, growling its way from 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds and topping out at 176mph. Not bad for a vehicle that, parked next to a Koenigsegg, looks about as aerodynamic as the Vicar of Dibley.

Actually, that’s a very harsh assessment. It implies the F-Pace wallows about all over the place and then falls over. It isn’t that. It’s just that making any SUV ‘sporty’ is like putting lipstick on a pig compared with a proper supercar. But Jaguar has done a lot of work making the bumpers and side skirts aerodynamically efficient, as well as adding a rear lip spoiler to reduce drag and improve high-speed stability.

And, boy, does it show.

The ungracious size is no reflection on how the Jag handles. In fact, it’s the SVR’s party piece. It’s such good fun to drive around the corners, with precise and sensitive steering.

It doesn’t handle like an F-Type – the laws of physics don’t stretch that far. But, my assessment of its cornering ability, compared with my expectations, is that it’s mightily impressive, with limited body roll and tons of grip. This is thanks to dampers and springs that have been specifically made for the SVR, as well as a rear electronic active differential.

It can be comfortable at lower speeds. But, given that it’s tuned for sportiness, the suspension compromises the ride comfort. My test car had 22-inch rims which, while sounding impressive, is an optional extra over the standard 21-inch rubbers. Alluring as it is to have tyres so low-profile you can barely see them. Your spine will thank you for making one sensible decision by not giving in to such temptation.

The four-wheel drive SUV comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, although the aluminium paddle shifters will impress those who dream of driving an F1 car. Albeit a fat one.

On the inside, there are four LED colour themes to choose from and five roomy seats – sports seats in the front and three jaunty-looking ones in the back.

There’s more than enough space to fill it with five adults. Although let’s face it, we’re all just big kids driving this thing.

The F-Pace SVR’s ‘InControl Pro’ infotainment system is excellent, too. If you despise the clunkiness that comes naturally to everything other than the most expensive smartphones, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the Jaguar’s 10.2-inch touchscreen.

SVR owners may not care for practicality, but SUVs are partly judged on their available boot space. There’s 650 litres of it, expanding to 1,740 litres with the seats folded away. That’s more than a Range Rover Sport, by the way.

As for safety, it scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Nuff said.

The ferocious power does come at a cost, however – the F-Pace SVR is £74,835 and it guzzles fuel. 23.7 miles is all you’ll get per gallon. And that’s the laboratory figure, which I could only achieve by driving it like it was made from tracing paper. And if you’re going to do that in a car like this, you may as well buy a diesel hybrid. Or a pogo stick.

However, if you’re the sort of person who can afford a 75-grand growling, snarling beast-of-the-highway, then you probably won’t care.

Some companies offer environmentally conscious drivers the opportunity to take part in a carbon exchange programme where you can plant trees to make up for the pollution you’ll create.

I haven’t asked Jaguar if it’s offering one. But, at 272g/km of CO2, the Amazon rainforest will be expanding again in no time if the automaker plans to go down that well-intentioned route.

Fast Facts

  • Max speed: 176 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 4.3 sec
  • Combined mpg: 23.7 NEDC2 Combined
  • Engine layout: 5000cc, supercharged V8 petrol
  • power (PS): 550
  • CO2: 272g/km
  • Price: £74,835