According to my YouTube channel it’s been 3 years since my last full F-PACE review. I did briefly drive the updated 2021 model this past spring along with other new Jaguar Land Rover products; that video is available by clicking the link up here.
But the F-PACE SVR? This is my first time, though I’ve had my week with another SVR model – the Range Rover Sport. So I kind of knew what to expect but so far this Jag – with a host of performance, design and tech tweaks – is raising the bar as to what SVR can truly be.
This is the only Jaguar that sells in an appreciable number. Not this super high-performing SVR trim, mind you, which sits here at over $97,000 but the F-PACE in general which resides in the popular mid-size SUV segment and starts at a relatively attainable $51,145 including destination.
And just like every gas-powered vehicle in Jaguar’s current lineup, it’s only here for 4 more years as the full electrification of the brand begins in 2025. So if you’ve got lots of money, may I suggest you tuck one of these away while it’s still available because nothing beats a Jag with a supercharged V8.
This is one of 2 Jaguar SVR models for sale with the other being the F-TYPE 2-seater and new this year is higher torque output for the 5.0-liter engine leading to even quicker acceleration and a raised top speed of 178 mph. With more speed also comes better braking. The steering system and adaptive dampers have been retuned for more control and greater comfort at low speeds and the new front bodywork reduces unwanted lift.
And then inside everything has been touched to bring the interior up to date and give it the high end appeal it thus far has been lacking. So this feels like a comprehensive freshening and one that turns this Velocity Blue beauty into a dream machine – this special paint costs over $4,500, by the way. The stance, the color, the wheels, the sound – this is Jaguar at its modern best exceeding expectations as to what a crazy fast SUV can be.
Even if a sport-ute that can cut down 60mph in in a mere 3.8 seconds isn’t really your thing, I promise just one drive of the F-PACE SVR can go a long way to changing your mind. And this isn’t a Durango SRT Hellcat situation; the driver will truly appreciate the prodigious power while turning the wheel. This drives like a honed sports car that just happens to also have 8.5” of ground clearance and all-wheel drive.
The drive is 550 horsepower of supercharged awesomeness with bellowing pipes and neck-snapping acceleration and despite the 4,500 pounds it has to manage the handling and steering feel is impeccable for an SUV. This is truly a great drive; the kind you crave to do again and again. And the balance here between ride comfort and its dynamic characteristics is spot on. So there really isn’t anything would change here about the driving experience.
The exhaust sounds are intoxicating as you work the bulked up 8-speed and its paddle shifters in Dynamic mode but for quieter times the pipes default to a more neighborhood-friendly setting upon startup. If you prefer it louder you can switch it on regardless of drive mode.
The Dynamic mode can also be configured using 4 individual parameters. And without having to specifically select it, the new Dynamic Launch function is responsible for keeping the power to the pavement with the uprated 516 pound-feet of torque delivered more precisely through the rear differential for even better acceleration. And let me tell you; this thing is fast. Taking it down the runway is a mind-blowing experience. Transitioning to the road can be as serene and as peaceful as you want it to be…that’s this F-PACE’s wide dynamic range. And even with the stiffer shocks and springs and these Pirelli P Zero max performance summer tires – wider in the rear, the ride quality is surprisingly compliant when in comfort mode.
The cabin is quiet, too. So this is a do-it-all machine – thrilling and visceral when provoked and docile when left to be. My favorite times are paddle shifting on the backroads where the torque vectoring all-wheel drive system, precise controls and immediate supercharging make carving up the curves an absolute delight and the exhaust is oh-so Jaguar. And these sport seats not only look amazing with their new garnishes but they provide the perfect amount of support for SVR driving.
Jaguar has done an excellent job here in thoroughly updating this F-PACE and all of the areas they’ve paid special attention to practically make it seem like brand new. And perhaps nothing is more notable than the new electronics architecture which replaces their old navigation screens and displays that weren’t even competitive really back when they were new.
Unfortunately, you still do need your phone cable in order to project here but Jaguar tells me that’s about to change in the not so distant future. And this system here is called Pivi Pro and it’s really, really good but a couple of more off-screen buttons could make it great. The satellite mapping, the colorful head-up display and the look and feel of all of the upgraded materials really hits a homerun. Now, my only areas of beef concern the new shifter which is kind of stubby and difficult to engage and a lack of center console space.
Yeah, this system is a huge step up in every way. Simple but robust; it’s faster, cleaner and more modern with some very cool imagery and camera controls. But I really would appreciate a tuning knob for the radio…an old school thing that has yet to be properly replaced.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shifted into drive only to realize I’m still in reverse. There’s a great head-up display and the driver information area – though not as customizable as that of some if its rivals -finally looks modern. Push and pull, turn and press – that’s how the cleaner look of the F-PACE’s controls work.
The rear seats are deep and legroom friendly with a big pano roof overhead and separate climate controls with seat heating. And cargo room continues to be abundant and widely cut. Added goodies include a cooled glovebox, air quality sensor and cabin air ionization with filter. This F-PACE also benefits from an incredible Meridian Surround Sound System which compliments the cabin’s luxury-sport ambiance replete with ambient lighting that pops at night.
Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations has gotten this exactly right and it’s cheaper and faster than the comparable Range Rover Sport. So get it before it’s gone.
2021 JAGUAR F-PACE SVR TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW 2021(c)