It’s not often that the future gets to overtake the present, but that’s what has happened here. Jaguar’s announcement earlier this month that it will have produced its last combustion car as soon as 2025, and scrapped its existing model line-up at the same point, means my first drive of the revised F-Pace SVR feels more like a goodbye than a hello.
We were huge fans of the original F-Pace SVR and its combination of V8 brawn and bespoke suit design, so the good news is that a modest set of revisions haven’t messed with the fundamentals to any significant degree. SVR branding indicates the range-topping F-Pace remains a product of JLR’s cross-brand Special Vehicle Operations division, and with the demise of the F-Type SVR it is now the only Jag to carry the badge.
The most significant changes are the same ones that have been made to the regular F-Pace that I drove last month. There have been the usual crop of visual tweaks and tucks, most obviously bigger intakes at the front and narrower all-LED headlights. But the most significant alteration is the arrival of a new interior, incorporating a new dashboard that incorporates crisper looking digital instruments and an 11.4-inch central touchscreen running JLR’s smart new Pivi Pro infotainment. It also gains classy rotary heating controls in place of the previous black plastic switchgear, and swaps the old SVR’s bulbous gear selector for a much dinkier mini-lever.
One thing missing compared to other versions of the F-Pace is the active noise cancellation system offered on lesser cars. That’s because the SVO team don’t want it to fight against the compelling sounds made by the mighty V8 engine. As before, this features a switchable exhaust flap – although it now always starts in its quieter mode – but beyond that the hard-edged soundtrack comes without digital augmentation. Jaguar has also taken out the pops and bangs that the earlier SVR made on a lifted throttle, this made necessary by gasoline particulate filter the car will wear in most markets. But with the possible exception of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 AMG, it still sounds better than everything else in the segment.
The long-serving supercharged V8 hasn’t been given any more power, but it does have a modest 20Nm increase in peak torque to 700Nm. SVO has also fitted the same eight-speed autobox and torque converter that was used in the Project 8, with this reportedly responsible for most of the claimed 0.3-second improvement on the SVR’s 4.0-second 0-100km/h time. Aerodynamic tweaks to the bodykit and rear spoiler have also raised the claimed top speed from 281km/h to 286km/h.
|2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR|
|Engine||5.0-litre supercharged V8|
|Power and torque||405kW @ 6250rpm, 700Nm @3500-5000rpm|
|Fuel consumption (claimed)||11.7L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five stars (tested 2017)|
|Warranty||Three years/unlimited kilometres|
|Main competitors||Maserati Levante, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 M|
|Price||From $141,040 plus on-road costs|
On the move the revised gearbox delivers impressively rapid shifts, although take off from rest felt a bit abrupt in the transmission’s Sport mode. The gearbox changes impressively snappily under full manual control – and the sizeable metal paddles behind the steering wheel have a great weight and action. The supercharged engine is as lag-free as always and provides huge, linear urge all the way to where the rev limiter calls time at 6750rpm. On paper the SVR still isn’t as quick as many of its ludicrously fast rivals; this is a segment where the quick cars have encroached on three-point-something second 0-100km/h times than a four second one. But there’s never any sense of needing more from the driver’s seat.
SVO’s engineering team have done a substantial amount of work on the SVR’s suspension. Most bushings are new, as are the lower front suspension arms, and all electronically controlled settings have been revised. One of the aims was an improvement in secondary ride – and the SVR certainly dealt with the frequently rough English roads I drove it as well as anything its size and weight could be expected to. Most performance SUVs try to keep their mass under iron discipline, but the Jaguar uses its wheel travel intelligently to parry bumps and fill dips. My only slight complaint with refinement was at low speed, where the vast 22-inch wheels clump over imperfections.
The SVR’s playful side has survived the facelift intact. As before the all wheel drive system has a rearward torque bias in all but its mud and snow mode. In the most aggressive Dynamic setting 100 percent of effort goes to the back axle until a loss of traction is detected, with an electronically controlled torque biasing differential at the rear helping to both maximise grip and get the car turned. The result is a level of instinctive and unscary throttle adjustability that would be impressive in anything, let alone a 2.2 tonne SUV.
SVO has also added the option to further tune the Dynamic mode by pressing a crash helmet icon on the central touchscreen, and then being able to toggle between Comfort and Sport modes for the engine map, steering, gearshift and adjustable dampers. Meaning it is possible to keep the amusing torque bias while softening everything else off. One less welcome addition is the arrival of e-boosted brakes, with the left pedal now barely moving as pressure increases. You get used to it quickly, but it is definitely harder to modulate low-speed stops.
For $141,040 the new SVR is just over a grand more expensive than its predecessor, which seems a reasonable supplement given the improvements made. We also know it marks the end of an era. Barring the possibility of special editions it will be the last V8 powered car that Jaguar will launch, and likely also final SVR variant to use a combustion engine. SVO promises that it will continue its work on the all-electric Jags that will follow on, but none of those are ever going to sound as good as this F-Pace does.