Jaguar has burst into the upper echelons of high-performance SUVs with a supercharged V8 version of its F-Pace due to hit Australian showrooms in June.
While the F-Pace SVR’s arrival is tardy – it was meant to be launched almost 12 months ago – the 404kW, four-wheel-drive wagon gives Jaguar a much-needed talking point and a chance to take on a mixed bag of rivals at their own game.
Can I afford the Jaguar F-Pace SVR F-Pace?
The SVR will be priced at $140,020, or significantly below the likes of the $165,000 Mercedes GLC63 AMG, or the $149,900 Alfa Stelvio QV.
Perhaps confusingly, it also vastly undercuts the $238,000 Range Rover Sport SVR which is also a product of the Jaguar Land Rover company and with which it shares the same engine.
While the company points out the Range Rover SVR has off-road capability and appeals to a different type of customer, those buyers will be able to compare two vehicles of similar size, performance and intent – but a price difference of about $100,000 - from the same showroom.
What's under the bonnet of the F-Pace SVR F-Pace?
Of course, performance is what the F-Pace SVR is all about. The supercharged 5.0-litre has the biggest capacity of any SUV originating from Europe and with 404kW of power on tap, not to mention a hefty 680Nm of torque, it is also one of the more powerful.
Its 2070kg weight is competitive although hardly sylph-like, but that won’t stop it hitting 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 4.3 seconds. For academic purposes, note the top speed is a prodigious 283km/h.
To keep all that potential speed under control there’s been an amount of engineering work carried out on suspension, brakes, power distribution and chassis electronics that was at least equal to the job of shoehorning a mighty V8 under the SVR’s bonnet.
Suspension springs are 30 per cent stiffer at the front, 10 percent at the rear, new Bilstein dampers attenuate their compression and rebound actions and anti-roll bars have been uprated.
Brakes are ventilated 396/395mm twin-disc units front and rear while the standard wheel size for Australia is 21-inch diameter shod with 265/40 and 295/35 tyres front and rear, with even bigger 22-inch alloys a not-unreasonable $2200 option.
What's the Jaguar F-Pace SVR F-Pace like to drive?
Jaguar claims no particular off-road ability for the SVR, perhaps to distance it from products wearing the Land Rover badge, but just as likely because its all-wheel-drive system is designed for maximum on-road traction.
Essentially rear-driven most of the time with an electronic limited slip differential, torque can be funneled to the front wheels when the rear tyres start to struggle, negating performance losses through activation of the electronic stability control. The transmission, incidentally, is the familiar eight-speed automatic retuned to the V8’s higher torque output.
Drive had a hefty crack at steering the SVR through the winding roads of the pre-Alps in south-eastern France and was left in no doubt that it can only be described a very bloody fast.
The engine fires with a fairly subdued rumble that indicates a little of the medium-sized SUV’s potential but it isn’t until the throttle is squeezed and the SVR surges forward that it begins to feel very special indeed.
Floor the right pedal and you’ll want to have plenty of road ahead because it simply erupts in a thunderous avalanche of acceleration: no untoward wheel-spin or scrabbling for traction, just a time-bending and seemingly inversely proportionate eruption towards the speed limit.
Driven more sedately it eats the miles given the automatic transmission’s positive but well-damped shifts and the fact that hills, open bends and other traffic are dispensed with a mere whiff more accelerator pedal.
But it is on tighter, twisting and more challenging sections of road the SVR really shows its mettle. Grip from those big tyres is obviously huge, but it is also well balanced front to rear and that together with communicative steering invites higher cornering speeds than normal.
An SUV’s normal bugbear – a high centre of mass causing untoward body movement – has been pretty well eliminated. Tip the hefty Jag from one corner into another and instead of a rollicking shift of weight it simply sits flat, responds immediately and can be directed with precision.
Almost counter-intuitively, traction is such that the throttle can be pushed home at an apex unleashing all that power and torque but again, no loss of traction.
The downside is that if there’s a uneven road surface this SUV lets you know it because the suspension is set up rather stiffly and will bump and jar to a degree, although at least the hardware remains noise free. Toggle the selector dial to the Dynamic setting and the ride becomes even firmer, but the cornering ability is only enhanced.
Other than that it’s all good news. Together with the performance there’s that indomitable feeling for the driver of sitting relatively high off the road with a good view, ensconced by plush but supportive seats, the pistol grip shift-selector perfectly placed and a surfeit of horsepower underfoot.
What do you get for your money?
Naturally enough, the F-Pace SVR has plenty of styling tweaks to match its potential. At the front there’s a deeper air dam with bigger openings in the bumper and there’s a couple of bonnet vents so hot air can exit.
The rear also features a new bumper design with quad exhausts and a bigger rear wing on the roof, while wheel arches have been extended to house the larger rubber. In all, the already attractive F-Pace has a hefty dollop of new-found visual aggression while still remaining relatively svelte for its ilk.
Inside, the cabin benefits from completely new performance front seats clad in a sumptuous-looking quilted leather that extends to the re-sculpted rear pew that while still nominally able to sit three is optimized for two occupants. There’s also an SVR branded version of the standard steering wheel and plenty of jet-black polished trim.
Is the Jaguar F-Pace SVR F-Pace right for me?
Politically correct the F-Pace SVR obviously isn’t and if the idea of a 280km/h, two-tonne SUV is frightening enough for bystanders, the 11.9 L/100km combined fuel consumption figure indicates owners will be forking out plenty of dollars to help increase atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
But there are clear indications this type of high-riding and very potent wagon is becoming very alluring to performance pundits. At first taste the SVR seems to be up there with the best and at that price is also one of the more sensible buys.