The 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is priced from £77,595 / $84,600
As the ban on internal combustion shifts from ‘maybe sometime’ to ‘later this decade’, cars like the newly updated Jaguar F-Pace SVR are viewed in a different light. Some might say good riddance to the preposterousness of an SUV powered by a hulking great 5.0-liter V8 with twin superchargers and not a battery or electric motor in sight. But for many, myself included, this is very much the end of an era.
Will there be another F-Pace SVR? With Jaguar pledging to sell only electric cars by 2025, and the 2021 model being a fair bit more than a mid-life face lift, the writing might well be on the wall. In that case, an opportunity to drive the new SVR shouldn’t be sniffed at, even if this particular launch was switched from Spain to the English countryside due to Covid-19.
In case you aren’t aware, SVR vehicles come from Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations department. In short, they are responsible for cramming opulent luxury into the SVAutobiography models of Range Rover, building limited-run specials like the Jaguar Project 7 and Project 8, and cramming a twin-supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 into the F-Pace you see here.
Before we get to what remains reassuringly the same as before, most changes for the 2021 SVR are found in the cabin. Jaguar has fitted its new (and vastly improved) Pivi Pro infotainment system, complete with 11.4-inch touchscreen and 12.2-inch driver information display. Both are pin-sharp and the former sits smartly on the dashboard above a panel of touch buttons with haptic feedback and a pair of dials for climate control. Ahead of this is the same center console as on the current XF, featuring a new gear selector and drive mode dial.
The SVR is set apart by its more aggressive styling and quad exhaust pipes
It’s a major interior upgrade featured across the F-Pace range, dragging Jaguar’s largest SUV up a couple of rungs and into a position where it is on par with much of the German competition. But, at £77,595 / $84,600, it still represents good value for money.
On the outside it is mostly a case of Jaguar not messing with a winning formula. There’s a power bulge on the hood sat between a pair of louvres, and a wide, angry mouth leaving you with no uncertainty that this car means business.
Open the door and you are greeted by a pair of lightweight, race car-style bucket seats (and there’s even a similar pair in the back, too). Press the brake pedal before setting off and its firmness comes as a shock; this is a performance car despite its size and 2.1-tonne mass, and is wearing the discs and callipers to prove it.
The V8 rumbles into life and, given this drive is across empty countryside, the button to make the quad exhausts louder is pressed immediately. I might even have lowered the window too, ensuring my ears get the full experience.
And what an experience it is. The supercharged V8 up front might be a bit old school by today’s standards, but it’s still a wondrous thing with a soundtrack to match. Producing 550PS and 700Nm of torque, it hauls the F-Pace to 60mph in 3.8 seconds – remember when three-point-something was reserved for supercars? – and delivers a top speed of 178mph.
The SVR’s all-new interior includes bucket-style seats in the front and rear
Power is fed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox that can either be left to do its own thing, switched to a more aggressive sport mode with a pull on the gear selector, or controlled manually with a gorgeous pair of oversize metal paddles behind the steering wheel. Remarkably those paddles are now standard across the Jaguar range, despite looking like an SVO special.
No matter the gear, the F-Pace snarls with every press of the accelerator, surging forward on a wave of torque and delivering a volley of highly amusing machine gun fire from its tailpipes with every up-shift. But while the point-and-squirt performance never tires (and indeed you will never tire of it), the SVR is equally adept through the corners. There’s remarkable composure for a car of this size, causing the driver to almost forget they are hustling a full-size SUV along a country road.
The all-wheel-drive system sends 70 percent of power to the rear wheels by default, with this rising to 90 percent in Dynamic mode, which also increases steering weight and firms up the air suspension. There’s a snow and ice mode to help you out on the two days of the year you’ll need it, but no matter how much slip it encounters the Jag won’t ever send more than 50 percent of power to the front axle.
The updated SVR features Jaguar’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system with HD touchscreen display.
With almost all of its power going to the rear wheels in Dynamic mode, the SVR will step out of line if you are greedy with the accelerator, but it isn’t as intimidating as the looks and sound might have you believe.
It’s mostly just a huge amount of fun, making its driver grin like a fool on the exit of every corner. But it can also calm down, quieten down (to an extent) and play at being a fairly sensible family car. Updated from its predecessor, the SVR’s suspension is always on the firm side for an SUV, but manages to not become uncomfortably so, at least on the varied roads of the two-hour test route.
There’s no escaping from the reality that cars like this are headed for extinction. The glorious V8 rumble and an option to make exhausts louder when you feel like being antisocial are soon to be things of the past. Jaguar has pledged to be fully electric by 2025 and, while an electric F-Pace will no doubt rise from the dying embers of internal combustion, its SVR flagship will have the unenviable task of entertaining without a dirty great V8 at full song.
The new F-Pace SVR hits 60mph in a supercar-bothering 3.8 seconds
Some say cars like this, reckless polluters they undoubtedly are, should have disappeared long ago, and to buy one now would be sinful. And yet, for those to whom such things appeal in a way that is nigh-on impossible to rationally explain, the loss of an SUV with a big, supercharged V8 – indeed, any Jaguar, any car with such a characterful engine – is soon to be mourned.
If you are in the market for a premium, mid-size family SUV and your fuel bill isn’t a concern (because, boy, does the SVR like a drink), then I urge you write the check before it’s too late.
The new F-Pace SVR is a wonderful thing, but in light of Jaguar’s EV pledge it is also likely the last of its breed. And, while the V8’s final resting place will hopefully be in the front of a sports car and not an SUV, there is perhaps no finer example than this of Jaguar’s enduring motto of ‘grace, space and pace’.
I am an automotive and technology journalist who has written for Wired UK and the BBC, and have a life-long passion for everything on four wheels.