IF YOU’RE OF a certain age, you might remember an American TV show called Home Improvement, featuring Tim Allen as Tim ‘the Tool Man’ Taylor and launching the career of a pre-red bikini Pamela Anderson.
Tim’s answer to pretty much any problem was “more power” – usually while wielding a flamethrower to toast bread or a chainsaw to cut a half-inch dowel.
It’s how I like to imagine the good people of Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations department, swapping propelling pencils for cattle prods, and spanners for angle grinders. It’s certainly an approach that works well when applied to an SUV.
The standard F-PACE is a very capable all rounder. But “capable” and “all rounder” do not for excitement make. A 542bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8, on the other hand, does. When bolted to Jaguar’s F-PACE frame it results in an SUV with an extra helping of ‘Special’ on the side. Think zero-60mph in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 176mph – impressive for a two-tonne bruiser like this.
The sheer acceleration via the ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t what’s most spectacular, though. It’s the acoustic theatre that accompanies it that will pull the corners of your mouth skywards (towards the giant panoramic sunroof).
At the back of the SVR are four exhaust pipes, each one big enough to fit your fist in (should you be so inclined). Press the tailpipe button on the centre console and it opens them up to their full capacity. Push the engine beyond 3,500rpm and you’ll draw out an addictive combination of crackles and pops. You’ll love it; your neighbours not so much.
It’s not as bonkers-loud as the Range Rover SVR, but this is a Jaguar, after all – a car for the discerning and the dignified
It’s not as bonkers-loud as the Range Rover variants from the Special Vehicle Operations’s nutty professors, but this is a Jaguar, after all – a car for the discerning and the dignified.
Outside, only a few subtle details elevate the SVR from the more standard iterations: a couple of air intakes here, some larger alloys there. But it doesn’t shout about it – it leaves the engine to do the talking.
Inside, the upgrade is evident in the sports shifter and bucket seats. The latter are a work of art, the diamond quilting a triumph of handmade craft. Couple this with heating and cooling functions, and the SVR’s cabin is a very comfortable place to be.
Keep your right foot relaxed and the drive is as smooth as a luxury saloon (the F-PACE is based on the XF chassis, afterall.) But then you don’t buy an SVR for ‘calm’ – at least, not all of the time. The SVR has been engineered to give back what you put in. Although it’s all-wheel drive, the ratio is heavily in favour of the rear end – ensuring you can still have plenty of fun.
The front and rear suspension has been stiffened by 30% and 10% respectively compared to the standard F-PACE, ensuring body control is tighter. And a number of technological spells have been cast – including a new electronic active differential and brake-based torque vectoring system, making sure the Jag holds on in corners even when it really has no right to. If you do get a bit excited, the giant brakes quickly bring it back in check.
Indeed, it’s one of the most dynamic SUVs I’ve driven yet. It’s no Lamborghini Urus – but then it’s half the price, and doesn’t look like the vanguard of an alien invasion. Its primary competition from German and Italian rivals lose out in two departments – first, the Jaguar is better looking; and second, it is British.
If these two things are important to you,
then the Jaguar a compelling choice.
Ultimately, the F-PACE SVR hits the automotive sweetspot: it’s fast and flash enough to be special, yet reserved and refined enough to be relaxing – an enticing balance of duality. Hit the open road, though, and I defy you not to plant your foot to the floor, let those 560 horses loose, and shout to the heavens, “MORE POWER!”
For more information, see jaguar.com