What is it?
Jaguar has quite a reputation for building utterly fantastic performance cars, with its Special Vehicle Operations team turning up the wick on various versions of the British firm’s models. And with such a rich history in motorsport, turning its hand to an SUV was always going to raise a few eyebrows in enthusiast circles.
However, the original F-Pace SVR won over many. Yes, the interior was a bit rubbish by this segment’s standards – complaints mostly confined to the digital aspects, mind – but its butch, brawny character made it stand out from the crowd.
This was not a car to attack the track, but one that could make obnoxious engine noises and bring a smile to the face whenever required. Now it’s been given an update, so is it more of the same or improvements all round?
Jaguar says the 2021 F-Pace SVR is ‘faster, more agile and more rewarding than ever’. This has been achieved through increased torque, improved braking performance, a new steering system, retuned dampers and a retuned rear differential.
On the outside there are new ‘motorsport-inspired’ styling elements that are said to reduce lift by 35 per cent, as well as new LED headlights and taillights. Perhaps most importantly given the key complaints about the old one, the new model gets the fantastic updated interior from the standard F-Pace.
What’s under the bonnet?
It’s no shock to see that the SVR retains the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine we’ve seen used in various performance Jaguar Land Rover models over the past few years. Here it makes 542bhp and 700Nm of torque (up 20Nm on last year’s model), with a 0-60mph time of 3.8 seconds (0.3secs faster) and a top speed of 178mph.
It’s a brute of an engine, surging to the red line when you mash the throttle. The accompanying soundtrack is deep and gravelly, and despite the F-Pace’s considerable heft, it picks up and catapults you forward with impressive urgency.
Understandably, it’s not the most economical. Fuel economy is registered at 23.1mpg while CO2 emissions are 275g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
Similarly to the regular F-Pace, your first impressions of the SVR are that it’s supremely comfortable. The cabin feels huge and you sit quite high, with that angry engine fading quietly into the background until you get enthusiastic with the throttle.
Switch to dynamic mode, though, and it’s a different beast. With the engine coming alive it encourages you to attack corners. While the old model felt like it was listing considerably in turns, this new model feels more composed. You’ll still want to reign in your excitement because it’s no sports car, but the SVR eats up winding country roads at an alarming pace.
How does it look?
There’s no denying the F-Pace is a handsome SUV, and with the SVR this is improved further. What’s most noticeable is the fact that as far as high-performance models go, the SVR is relatively subtle in its aesthetic upgrades.
Sure, there are bonnet vents that look like angry flared nostrils and large air intakes, but these blend into the bodywork well and don’t look out of place, while the brake cooling ducts tucked behind the front wheels look like a subtle accent. Despite this relative subtlety, the changes are said to reduce lift by 35 per cent.
What’s it like inside?
The cabin is where the most noticeable changes have taken place, namely the introduction of the latest Pivi Pro infotainment system. It sits proud of the dashboard with an 11.4-inch high-definition touchscreen above physical buttons for regularly used sections like the climate control. It’s an excellent mix of the old and new combined into a functional layout.
The general ambience of quality is also improved, while in the SVR specifically, you get fantastic bucket seats with Alcantara inserts as standard as well as a few SVR-branded touches. The highlight of these is the SVR-branded gear selector, which has a lovely, high-quality design – something we never thought we’d say about a gear selector.
What’s the spec like?
There’s only one specification level available on the SVR, with prices starting at £77,595. Technology includes an uprated braking system with torque vectoring by braking, red brake callipers, active all-wheel-drive with SV-tuned dynamics and switchable exhaust system.
Equipment includes a panoramic roof, 3D surround camera, LED headlights, a head-up display, ‘performance seats’, Meridian Surround and the new Pivi Pro infotainment system with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When we drove the regular F-Pace update we were impressed by its cabin upgrades and improved driving dynamics, and fortunately those improvements have only served to elevate the SVR.
The cabin is a hugely important upgrade given the cost of entry, but when it comes to performance cars it’s all about how it drives. Here, the F-Pace excels. It’s not the sharpest SUV out there, but it can certainly handles with the best of them – yet when you need it to calm down it can do that too.
If you’re looking for boisterous fun rather than the fastest lap times, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR makes a great case for itself.