All claws, fangs, and growl in a velvet coat, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is the 550-hp black cat of the brand’s SUV family
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In the right place at the right time, the versatile 2019 Jaguar F-Pace is rich in the brand’s “beautiful” design directive. But three years ago, Jaguar had no SUV in its lineup. Today, however, the British manufacturer of road-going beauty is making tea while the pot is hot. It now has three SUV crossovers, including the electric iPace. The lineup has evolved the face and perception of the brand, the company says.
It might surprise that the F-Pace is not a clone from the SUV stable of corporate partner Land Rover. The closest it gets is the architecture of the carlike Range Rover Velar, which just doesn’t have the visceral appeal of the F-Pace.
The five-seat Jaguar F-Pace SUV is sold in a dozen, all-wheel-drive trim levels with five powertrain choices: two turbocharged four-cylinders, a turbocharged diesel four-cylinder, a supercharged V-6 and the SVR-exclusive 550-hp supercharged V-8.
Today’s tester, the F-Pace SVR, is a new model for 2019. On a scale of one to 10, the SVR is an 11, without going over the top, said Rob Filipovic, Jaguar’s director of customer experience, who was interviewed on a recent media drive.
Filipovic called the SVR the “ultimate Jaguar experience, and it’s probably going to be better than you think it will be.”
There are several F-Pace competitors, including the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. But there are few to compare with the F-Pace SVR. Among them are the Porsche Macan S (348-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6; $60,000), BMW X4 M40i (355-hp, inline 6-cylinder; $62,000) and Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 (496-hp or 503-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8; $71,000).
Filipovic, 39, isn’t just blowing tire smoke at his admiration for the SVR. After spending almost 1,000 miles in highway and city driving (but no track time), I found it to be a bi-modal sports car. It has the attitude of the Jaguar F-Type SVR coupe but with added back seat room and luggage space.
Pricing for the 2019 F-Pace lineup starts at $46,225 for the entry 25t and ranges to $80,925 for the high-performance F-Pace SVR, today’s tester; pricing includes the $1,025 freight charge from Solihull, England.
At $89,900 as tested, the F-Pace SVR pricing is competitive with the others in the segment. And there is the added owner perk of improved warranty coverage: five years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection with 24-hour roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenance.
Look here for current F-Pace pricing and incentives.
Because the F-Pace does not have to be a superior off-roading SUV, its drivability is balanced: A nonenthusiast can drive it without getting into trouble. And a car enthusiast can drive it hard and, with common sense, not get into trouble. The SVR is one of the few performance SUVs with an ideal 50/50 weight balance.
Everything about it has been pumped up or widened, from the brake-cooling vents in the front fenders to the 15.6-inch vented Brembo disc brakes all around. The forged wheels are lightweight and the sport seats front and rear are track-ready.
- Aerodynamic body kit with unique front and rear bumpers. The wide-mouth grille, lower body sides and a rear spoiler enhance cooling, reduce lift and drag and add to high-speed stability.
- SVR-tuned chassis with upgraded shocks front and rear spring rates increased by 30 percent and 10 percent.
- Lightweight wheels. 21- or optional 22-inch forged wheels with staggered widths front to rear. The forged wheels saved 5 pounds at the front and 3 pounds rear.
- Rear electronic active differential, to balance power delivery
- Specially tuned variable valve active exhaust for a more vocal soundtrack. But the system is also 14.5 pounds lighter and reduces back pressure for more airflow exiting the engine.
- Slimline performance seats in the front and rear feature Jaguar signature “lozenge” quilting and embossed SVR logo. The seats saved 5 pounds each.
- SportShift Gear Selector (from the F-Type) replaces the rotary gear selector.
- SVR steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters.
The second showpiece of this SVR package is the 550-hp, supercharged and direct-injection 5.0-liter V-8 (the basic architecture is still built by Ford) and an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Hit the red ignition button and the engine fires with a deep growl and then settles into a nasty purrr. There are several performance modes to sharpen acceleration and suspension, but the standard setting brings raucous pleasure without having the ride quality of a buckboard paint-shaker.
Fuel-economy ratings are challenged at 16 mpg city, 21 highway and 18 mpg combined, on the recommended premium fuel. I worked up to 23.4 mpg combined in seven hours of highway driving. In addition, the 21.7-gallon tank of premium fuel went the 440 miles with 74 remaining when I pulled into my driveway.
The Jaguar F-Pace SVR has such easy drivability. There is eager pull from the engine and the transmission was always ready to keep the power in the rpm band. With such catlike finesse, the 16 mpg will be forgiven.
Some sport-tuned SUVs can have a tortuous ride quality, with suspensions more intended for racing than street driving. But the F-Pace SVR is masterfully engineered for compliance without disruption. The 113.1-inch wheelbase and steel-spring suspension — double-wishbone front and integral link rear — work to settle the F-Pace SVR’s 4,395-pound curb weight.
The cabin is very well sound-proofed and the 38-foot turning circle seemed smaller and is no-stress when negotiating the parking garage.
Among the tester’s options was the Driver Assist package, $3,600, which adds Adaptive Cruise Control. Activating the semi-autonomous system requires at least one hand on the wheel for the system to steer, brake and maintain speed. And it works well in stop-and-go commuting traffic.
I valued the system’s attentiveness when going through highway work zones with five lanes crammed into four. Commercial trucks and passenger cars are seemingly just inches away. In those close quarters, all it takes is a sneeze or a long glance at a roadside caution and the driver could be making new friends while exchanging insurance information. But not on this trip.
The slimline seats look racing-harness ready, but they are actually quite livable. The seats will feel quite firm (hard) on initial seating — so much so that I almost removed my wallet from the back pocket. But after 7.5 hours on the road, I stepped out with no stiffness. However, the lumbar inflation bladder must have had a leak because I had to refill it every hour or two. Even the seat-cushion bolsters are low enough to not give an annoying wedgie on entry or exit.
The cabin is immaculately detailed with much leather and white stitching. It is a masculine space with handsome charcoal black microfiber headliner, enhanced by the (optional) aluminum-weave carbon-fiber trim.
Front headroom of 38.5 inches will fit most, and two inches more than in the F-Type coupe. However, a 6-foot-4 auto journalist on the drive commented that the tall seatback with head restraint pushed his head farther forward than he normally preferred. To compensate, he had to recline the seatback a little farther.
The driver area is functional with a variety of small-storage areas and two charging USBs in the center armrest box and a convenient place to lay a phone on the shifter console.
Cornering views are slightly compromised at the large side mirrors, but not so much that an owner will not adapt. And the 360-degree camera gives wide views for narrow parking.
The rear slimline seats are also quite firm with integrated head restraints, but legroom has adult comfort at 37.2 inches. There is no seatback recline, but the window seats are heated and passengers have access to two 5-amp charging USBs and a 12-volt plug. The center position is kid class.
Accommodations include a wide pull-down center armrest with can-cup holders, bottle storage in the doors, reading lights and grab handles with coat hooks.
Running boards are not needed to reach the roof to secure a bike or board. And fold the back seats for about six feet of length through the cargo area. The 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat is wide but with a tall liftover (30 inches).
Jaguar’s engineering of the F-Pace SVR is all claws, fangs and growl in a velvet coat. It will almost drive itself and it will park itself, but it is still a hands-on experience that transcends technology.
Body style: 5-seat, midsize AWD SUV crossover
Engine: 550-hp, supercharged and direct-injection V-8 engine; 502 lb.-ft. torque from 2,500-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Fuel economy: 16/21/18 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium fuel
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 21.7 gal.
Cargo space: 33.5 cu. ft. *behind second row
Front head/leg room: 38.5/40.3 in.
Rear head/leg room: 37.5/37.2 in.
Length/wheelbase: 186.5/113.1 in.
Curb weight: 4,395 lbs.
Turning circle: 38 ft.
0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
Standard equipment includes: smart key locking and push-button ignition, multiview rearview camera, “lozenge” quilted Windsor leather seat upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated and leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, 10-inch touch screen with navigation, 380-watt Meridian sound system, electronic multi-mode gauge display, 360 parking aid, adaptive LED headlights, power tailgate, panoramic roof with opening front section, heated and power-folding side mirrors (auto-dimming),
Safety features include: 6 air bags, dynamic stability and traction controls, emergency braking, brake assist, lane-keep assist, driver-condition (drowsiness) alert, traffic-sign recognition
Base price: $80,925, including $1,025 freight charge; price as tested $89,900
Options on test vehicle: Driver-assist package, $3,600, includes blind-spot assist, 360-degree surround camera, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, high-speed emergency braking, park assist, rear traffic monitor; 22-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels $1,530; aluminum weave carbon fiber trim finisher $1,300; head-up display $1,010; 17-speaker Meridian surround-sound 825-watt audio system $450; Activity key $410; heated windshield $385; cargo area back-seat release levers $200
Where assembled: Solihull, England
Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper with 24-hour roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenanceRead more