It is difficult for me to write about V8-powered Jags without seeming a bit too excited.
I can’t help it these cars just speak to me. The SVR versions of the F-TYPE and F-PACE are simply marvellous and not just because of their powerful and melodious powertrains, but also because of their emotional resonance. Car purchases, especially those of this type (no pun intended), are driven to a large degree by emotion, a reality not lost on Jaguar. Buyers expect excitement and these cars deliver in spades.
The SVR we’re talking about here is the F-PACE variety (F-Pace from here on out), which has received a fair bit of updating since I last reviewed it in the Spring of 2020 just as we were being walloped by the early pandemic.
To reset, the SVR, like the rest of the F-Pace family is built on Jaguar Land Rover’s D7a premium lightweight architecture which also underpins its XE and XF sedan siblings, along with its corporate cousin, the Land Rover Range Rover Velar. Power is derived from a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 (550 hp / 516 lb-ft) paired with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
For the 2021 model year, Jaguar threw a bunch of changes at the F-Pace, many of them on the styling front, but several performance updates have also been integrated. The changes are so expansive that I can’t cover them all but will focus on the most significant from both camps.
On the performance front, the F-Pace SVR receives a boost via tweaks made to the car’s Electronic Vehicle Architecture, now dubbed EVA 2.0. Among the items impacted by EVA 2.0 are a new Dynamic mode which boasts remapped software for improved throttle response, a stiffer suspension setup, along with new steering response and exhaust tuning.
A new feature is Dynamic Launch, which, without getting too far into the technical weeds, helps maintain power delivery to all wheels, both during gear changes and from launch. Other changes include a new electronic power steering system, which has been tuned to offer greater differentiation between comfort and dynamic drive modes. Suspension damping has also been modified with revised chassis bushings, which, like the steering change, is designed to further separate ride characteristics between comfort and dynamic.
Other performance-related changes include a new integrated power booster to give braking a sportier feel, a retuned rear Electronic Active Differential for better grip and performance from the rear-biased AWD system, and a reworked JaguarDrive Control which now has four modes: comfort, eco, rain-ice-snow, and dynamic. Located beside the gear shifter, this drive mode selector adjusts steering, transmission, and Active Dynamics (suspension damping) depending on the setting.
As for the powertrain, the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 gets and bump in torque from 502 to 516 lb-ft which helps explain a zero-100 km/h time that’s three-tenths of a second quicker (four seconds flat), than the 2020 model I drove. Top speed has also been increased from 283 to 286 km/h (178 m.p.h.).
Styling changes are equally numerous. Exterior updates include a revised aerodynamic profile which has lowered the drag coefficient and lift by three and 35 percent, respectively. The SVR also sports a new front bumper, a longer hood with a wider bulge and air vents for heat extraction, a larger front grille, and bigger mesh-style air intakes. Redesigned lighting features super-slim quad LED headlights with ‘double J’ daytime runners and new slimline LED taillights. Other exterior changes include optional 22-inch forged alloy wheels and updated SVR logo.
Most striking to me about the 2022 SVR versus the 2020 is the cabin, which has been extensively remade. Again, changes are numerous, but I’ll call attention to the biggest ones. The two that jump out to me are the 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment display that is making its way into other Jaguar Land Rover products, including the XF sedan I’ll be reviewing next week, along with the 12.3-inch configurable instrument cluster, which is also spreading across the lineup.
Other interior updates include a new leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, new gear selector, Alcantara-finished lightweight performance seats, aluminum or optional carbon fibre trim inserts, and an optional wireless charge pad.
For the purposes of this review, Jaguar Land Rover Canada, set me up with an SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) Red tester finished with an Ebony suede, Windsor leather, and Alcantara interior. This unit has a load of optional equipment, including 22-inch wheels ($1,300), Hot Climate Pack ($1,300), Head-up Display ($1,100) and the biggest paint charge I’ve seen on a press vehicle to date – $6,100 for the SVO Red ultra-metallic with gloss finish. Seems like a lot, but if you can afford it, it sure looks great on this car.
I’m not going to dwell too much on the styling changes as I think they work well in concert with one another, and have been pulled off in a tasteful, yet subtle way. Put it this way, the bodywork updating wasn’t apparent to me until I looked at photos of the 2020 model. The lighting changes are more noticeable, however, and give the F-Pace a cleaner, more sophisticated look.
The interior updates really stand out, however. I didn’t need to look at old photos to know what’s been changed. From the new multifunction steering wheel to the Pivi Pro infotainment display and digital instrument cluster, to the new gear shifter and trim finishes, the updates make the 2020 seem downright old. Collectively, they’re a breath of fresh air, and I especially like the excellent support and comfort offered up by the Alcantara performance seats and the Pivi Pro display is simply gorgeous – huge (11.4 inches), easy to use and with pin-sharp graphics and quick response time.
For as good as these styling changes are, it’s the drive that makes SVR products so thrilling. And the 2022 F-Pace SVR doesn’t disappoint. The anticipation builds as soon as you shut the driver’s door, strap in, and reach for the push-button starter.
Then it begins. The starter fires up, the V8 rumbles to life in a low baritone, and it is game on.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time in comfort and eco modes, because dynamic is the real attraction here, and it is as advertised. The ‘loud pipes’ button on the console remains, but if you tap the gear selector into sport, and then move the drive mode selector into dynamic, they’re engaged automatically. So convenient!
If I had to describe the F-Pace SVR in one word, it would probably be fast, but sharp and aggressive also adequately describe the drive character. I think what’s most striking is how normal this vehicle feels when being driven in comfort with a light touch. Apart from the occasional bark and exhaust backfire under acceleration, it feels like, dare I say, a normal SUV.
But as soon as the transmission and drive mode are dialed to dynamic, Mr. Hyde comes out. The revs jump, acceleration becomes hair-trigger, steering weights up, suspension tuning stiffens and you’re ready to blast off. Surroundings quickly blur, if you drive with anything but the lightest foot. Even then, some neck-snapping is likely to occur.
Bottom line, the F-Pace SVR is delightful. The supercharged V8 isn’t as loud as I remember in earlier Jags, which I noted when I drove the F-Type R last fall, but it will still bark and backfire and go off like a rocket if you stand on it.
In other words, this car’s appeal is visceral. And once you feel it, you’ll want more