The famous Latin saying goes ‘si vis pacem, para bellum’, which translates to ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’.
You might recognise these words as the title of the latest John Wick movie. Mr Wick’s love of dogs is well documented, but instead of an attack dog, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is more of an attack cat.
With 550hp on tap, and Jaguar’s most powerful SUV ever made, it’s also quite warlike too. But the appropriate bastardisation of the phrase would be: If you want pace, prepare for more. A lot more.
To compare, the 3.0 F-Pace with the supercharged V6 had 380hp and 480Nm of torque, nothing to sniff at with its 0-100km/h time of 5.5 seconds, but the SVR slashes that to ribbons with its raging V8’s 550hp, 680Nm of torque, and 0-100km/h time of just 4.3 seconds.
‘SVR’ is apparently not an acronym (it’s ‘Silly Velocity Reachers’ to me still), but denotes Jaguar-Land Rover’s tuned-up, high-performance models that have received a going over by the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department. This is the third SVR model, after the Range Rover Sport SVR, the F-Type SVR (which didn’t make it to Singapore).
The SVR treatment includes aerodynamic and cooling improvements to the bodywork, and Jaguar proudly says all the vents and openings have practical uses: The wider front air intakes front the bigger radiators, there’s a rear diffuser with quad tailpipes, the bonnet vents actually uhm, vent, as do the air-slats behind each wheel, and even the huge 22-inch wheels claim to cool the upsized brakes better too.
The standard F-Pace 2.0 R-Sport is already quite snappy looking, but the SVR is rather more bitey in appearance, in a subtle, menacing sort of way. That only makes the fact of its performance even more entertaining.
No we didn’t steal the engine cover – it comes without one
The supercharged 5.0-litre V8 also starred in both of previous SVR vehicles – we’ve had a taste of it in the riotous F-Type R coupe as well – and it’s a rarity in being not only a non-turbo V8, but an engine with plenty of character at that.
With a whole five years since we drove the F-Type R, it might be us going deaf or increasingly strict noise regulations, but the 5.0 doesn’t sound quite as throaty as it used to, even with the (button engaged) sports exhaust flap opened.
But compared to the modern turbocharged high-performance cars (read: German) where some have dropped two cylinders to V6s instead, it’s still a thing well worth appreciating, and full of character.
While modern turbos and their electronics soften the blow of the torque tsunami, the F-Pace SVR’s 5.0 feels barely caged and unrelenting. In a straight line, it’s immensely entertaining how quickly the F-Pace gets up to excessive speed, the soundtrack throaty and invigorating.
SVO’s tuned the adaptive suspension (stiffer springs and uprated damping), all-wheel drive, as well as adding and electronically-controlled rear differential and brake-based torque vectoring to help the F-Pace SVR rip around corners.
All that helps you tame the beast, but you’d better bring your best whip because the SVR is powerful and big enough to make you suddenly run out of road. It’s not nearly as wild as the F-Type R, but the instant throttle response of the supercharged V8 and 680Nm of torque demand respect, at the very least.
As a two-tonne high-performance SUV, you obviously won’t mistake it for a two-seat roadster, but it’s quite involving, rapid, and a thrill to drive. Porsche Cayenne and Macan aside, it’s about as good as one can expect from a two-tonne, high-performance SUV – keep in mind, cars like the Mercedes-AMG GLC coupe and previous BMW X6 M have been disappointing.
The good news is, the SVR is a cat that knows how to pad softly when it needs to. Despite the high-performance tuning, it rides very well, with amazingly little judder despite the huge wheels – Jaguar has experience here, since the I-Pace electric vehicle behaves similarly, also has large wheels, and both aren’t lightweights: The SVR at 2,070kg, the I-Pace at 2,133kg.
There’s no getting around the thirst of the big cat’s V8, but everywhere else, it’s a luxury SUV with all the trimmings: Sport seats (with aircon), huge sunroof, 650-litre boot, electric tailgate, navigation, LED lights, plenty of safety features (blind spot monitor, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control), a large 10-inch touchscreen infotainment, 17-speaker Meridian sound system, and more.
Our only quibbles are the usual Jaguar ones: The menus are fiddly, the status lights (like the recirculation indicator) are hard to read in daylight, some of the plastics and interior components are the same as they’ve been for a long time. It’s forgivable, given the swell of well-being the V8 delivers, although your wallet or conscience might not agree with the fuel consumption – we averaged 15L/100km.
But what really might sink the SVR’s claws in is the price – it’s actually very good value for money, if you can say that about a S$390k car. Consider the fact that it’s closer in price to the less powerful Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 (S$307,888 with COE), rather than the GLC 63 S$460,888 with COE), same goes for BMW’s X3 M40i (S$321,888 with COE) and X3 M (S$461,888 with COE).
War is hell, but to government finance departments what’s far worse than eternal damnation is that it’s very expensive to fund. The Jaguar F-Pace SVR shows you can have heavenly pace, for a not-so hellish price.
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
|Engine||5,000cc, V8, supercharged|
|Power||550hp at 6000-6500rpm|
|Torque||680Nm at 2500-6500rpm|
|Top Speed||4.3 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 272g/km|
|Price||S$388,999 with COE|
Verdict: F-ing lots of pace and heady supercharged V8 thrills – for not an F-ing a lot of money.