Wednesday 14th April 2021
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First drive: Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021MY. Image by Jaguar UK.

First drive: Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021MY
Apart from the cabin, it would appear not much has changed for the Jaguar F-Pace SVR. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find a quite superb performance SUV.

 



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Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021MY

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Jaguar's enthralling F-Pace SVR has never been a bad machine but a programme of updates for the 2021 model year most definitely enhances the package. As a result, this is one of the finest performance SUVs you can buy, and one that's still toting the ridiculously charismatic supercharged engine to boot.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021MY
Pricing: F-Pace range from £40,860, SVR from £77,595
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Transmission: torque-on-demand all-wheel drive with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics and electronically controlled active rear differential, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: five-door performance SUV
CO2 emissions: 275g/km (VED Band Over 255: £2,175 first 12 months, then £475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.1mpg
Top speed: 178mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 550hp at 6,250-6,500rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 3,500-5,000rpm
Boot space: 650-1,842 litres

What's this?

The flagship version of the updated Jaguar F-Pace SUV, which has mild visual tweaking (that hides aerodynamic benefits), a carefully considered but on the face of it modest array of technical updates (that hides a big dynamic bonus), and then the shiningly obvious interior changes. So let's start with those. Wow, what a difference this cabin makes to the whole kit and caboodle. Again, it's not that the F-Pace had a poor passenger compartment prior to this point, but the new architecture is so much more splendid. It centres on the 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system's curved-glass touchscreen, which displays pin-sharp graphics and responds in rapid fashion, banishing any memories of JLR's formerly underwhelming human-machine interface systems. Underneath this, the old-fashioned double-row of switches for the climate control system have been replaced with round, digital-centre dials that work intuitively and which look lovely. Above the screen, the old pair of vents has been superseded by a full-width strip incorporating the cabin's airflow outlets, the digital dashboard has been smartened, there's a new and more attractive steering wheel, the gearlever has been swapped out for a stubby and tactile item finished in a cricket-ball-esque leather, and the general quality of everything you look at, touch and operate just feels, well... better. With the same roomy second row of seating for passengers and a big boot, the F-Pace SVR probably has the finest cabin of any vehicle in its segment; and yes, we're including the Porsche Macan in this reckoning.

There is one minor bugbear in here, however, and it pertains to those glorious bucket seats up front. They look amazing and they're 14-way electrically adjustable with heating and cooling functions, but they don't ever quite give the right seating position. Maybe it was just us, failing to find the precise position from endless twiddling of the electric controls on the side of the squab, but it always felt as if we were perched a bit too high relative to the rest of the vehicle. Might just be, um, people of a portly disposition who have this issue, mind.

Outside, the F-Pace has always been a handsome thing and so drastic visual amendments were ruled out. Take note of the new design of LED lamp clusters fore and aft on the Jag, as well as 22-inch forged alloy wheels, both of which are additions to the 2021MY SVR portfolio. At the back, the same roof spoiler and rear valance for the quad exhausts are both pressed into service, so it's around the front where the bigger changes are made. These include the X-shaped elements in the lower airdam, as well as the larger air vents to either side that now sport the same mesh as used on the XE SV Project 8 supersaloon. Along with the wheel-arch spats, sculpted side sills and the SVR's trademark bonnet vents, Jaguar claims the aerodynamic properties of the facelifted model are improved compared to the old V8 version - as there's apparently 35 per cent less aerodynamic lift here, plus a superior coefficient of drag (0.36Cd, as opposed to 0.37Cd previously). All told, with the programme of revisions made to the 2021MY F-Pace SVR, it remains one of the most alluring products of its type, despite the fact it is Jaguar's oldest SUV and a shape that has been in our collective consciousness for more than five years now.

How does it drive?

As well as the aerodynamic properties being enhanced, Jaguar says the kinematics are improved too. The venerable 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is carried over, making the same 550hp as before but ramped up by 20Nm to a new peak of 700Nm in total. It's a wonder Jaguar can still get this past emissions regs these days, not to mention acoustic considerations (as we shall come to see, this drivetrain is LOUD), but we're delighted it continues nonetheless. Drive goes to all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic, although the company says this is now the torque converter out of that aforementioned XE Project 8. There are also recalibrations and updates for both the electronic power-assistance set-up of the steering and for the dampers/suspension bushes used on the SVR, while an Integrated Brake Booster is said to sharpen pedal feel and retardation. The discs themselves are almighty 395mm front, 396mm rear two-piece items that are fed more cooling air by those enlarged intakes in the F-Pace's front bumper, so reliable and repeatable stopping power shouldn't be a problem - despite the fact the SVR clocks in at a robust 2,133kg.

With a Dynamic Launch feature added to give the F-Pace SVR better traction off the line for standing starts, the 0-62mph is trimmed three-tenths of a second from its predecessor's benchmark to 4.0 seconds dead for the 2021MY, while the top speed has gone up 2mph to 178mph overall. But speed was never something for which the SVR lacked. And nor was dramatic, outrageous noise. Thankfully, the new model clearly retains these things in abundance. Say what you like about the supercharged engine being archaic these days, as it has been used in rapid Jaguars since time immemorial (well, 2009, actually, if we're talking the AJ133 specifically), but it is bursting at the seams with charisma. It has impeccable throttle response, masses of brawn and the sort of soaring, rambunctious voice that can make the stoutest of stout petrolheads go weak at the knees. The payoff for all this brilliance is that it'll struggle to achieve 20mpg on a cruise and is more likely to give you back about 12mpg if you enjoy its charms to the max on quiet back roads, but as no high-performance, petrol-powered SUV is exactly parsimonious then perhaps we ought to cut the SVR some slack in this regard.

What's changed here is that the hottest F-Pace is notably more talented than it was before, working superbly well across a broad bandwidth of driving scenarios. So, for instance, the damping tuning allows it to roll along in cosseting luxury like every self-respecting Jag should, irrespective of the fact it is sitting on a set of 22s and has to try and corral its significant mass when it comes to fast cornering. Wind and tyre noise are supremely well dampened down, near-eradicated before they have any sort of bearing on the comfort of the SVR's occupants, and the engine and ZF gearbox are (if you'll pardon the awful turn of phrase, considering this particular marque) a complete pussy cat (sorry...) of a drivetrain if you never venture beyond 3,000rpm.

You'll want to, though. Not only to hear the terrific din the F-Pace SVR makes, but to sample its sweet, involving and well-sorted chassis. There's no denying the 'detail changes' outlined earlier have added up to a far more significant whole, because the SVR no longer feels like a fast SUV utterly dominated by its engine. There's more control to both the attitude of the body and the movements of the wheels at speed, the rear axle is an active part of proceedings (oversteer is easily attainable through either big lifts or even bigger presses of the throttle in mid-bend), the brakes are more confidence-inspiring and strong, and the steering! The steering is perhaps the masterpiece of the whole art-show. It's light and easy in Comfort mode, heavier in Dynamic, but in neither setting is it anything less than marvellous. There's even feel coming back through the rim of the perfectly sized and gorgeous wheel, which is also fitted with a set of some of the best, metallic paddle shifts in the business. So you feel fully immersed from moment one in the process of making the Jaguar go fast and when you do open the taps on it, you're gifted with one of the most glittering chassis in the SUV segment as due reward.

It's not quite perfect, of course, because we really can't ignore that raging thirst. The V8 will require more frequent trips to fuelling stations than in other high-performance SUVs, and it's mixing with the hoi-polloi likes of us that the kind of people who can afford to buy and run one of these things in the first place would wish to avoid; that six-cylinder rivals are a bit more frugal (relatively speaking) will therefore be a boon and a key purchase driver. And there's also the suspicion that the SVR isn't quite as talented or as tied-down at the limits as the Macan GTS, nor as playful and exhilarating as the divine Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

On the flip side, the Porsche probably doesn't have the same graceful low-speed ride quality as the Jag, nor does it match up to the F-Pace for noise. Same for the Stelvio. And then the defter, suppler SVR is also going to be preferable to the sledgehammer approach of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, or the brittle, bone-crunching brutality of the BMW X3 M, or the, er... the whatever-it-is that the Maserati Levante offers. You could even make the case that the £78,000 SVR is a total bargain if you're after a V8-powered, 550hp British SUV, because it's a lot cheaper than the Aston Martin DBX, has arguably a more appealing soundtrack and it definitely has the *whisper it* superior cabin. In essence, pragmatically speaking (or going with your head), you'd have the proficient Porsche Macan and be done with; but subjectively (and listening to your heart), the Jag SVR would be fighting a tough battle with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q for outright fast-SUV honours.

Verdict

Better to drive than ever before, nicer to look at, far more preferable to sit in and still possessed of one of the most idiosyncratic engines in the modern automotive game, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021MY is one of the best high-performance SUVs you can buy. Maybe not perfect, admittedly, but it's packed with appeal and of a like we shall not see for too much longer. Get it now, while you still can.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 2 Mar 2021









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2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.

2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Image by Jaguar UK.








 

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