The car world is no doubt confusing right now. On one hand there’s all the engine options that I described in last week’s post. On the other, obviously related to that, is the two extremes between electrification on one hand and power SUV’s being more popular than ever on the other. I’ve previously written about the Aston Martin DBX that I’m no more fond of now than when I did so (and that you still don’t see many of on the streets), and no one’s missed that Land Rover have recently introduced not only the new full size Range Rover but also the smaller RR Sport. Then there’s of course the Cayenne and a bunch of others. What they all have in common is enormous amounts of power, but unfortunately also of weight.
As we all know weight doesn’t go well with agility, so a Range Rover Sport weighing in at over 2.5 tons should probably rather be called the Range Rover “Sportier”, with reference to its bigger brother, since that’s as far as it goes. Aston has also made their best to defy the laws of gravity with the DBX that indeed is lighter and has an impressive drive, but the laws of physics still ultimately prevail. All this brings us to this week’s post, because there is one power SUV out there that is one of the lightest of them all and through that, arguably also the best drive. It also looks good and has an engine sound to die for and all this, at a far lesser price. Let’s have a closer look at the dark horse par excellence in the power SUV segment – the Jaguar F-pace SVR!
Special Vehicle Operations or SVO is Jaguar’s special branch, comparable to AMG or M-Sport. The most famous SVO project is perhaps the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, featuring a 600 hp, 5-litre V8, a scaled-down interior that saves weight, and one of the biggest rear spoilers around. It’s limited to a sold-out series of 300 cars. Next to that the SVO team work on other Jaguars as well, notbly the F-Pace SVR. This includes a re-worked interior dressed in sport seats, alcantara and leather, more advanced chassis and break settings and the same V8 as in the Project 8, this time scaled down to “only” 550 compressor-boosted hp. And all this to a total weight of around 2.2 tons which is still a lot, but 100-200 kg less than the likes a Cayenne Turbo or DBX, and even more compared to an RR Sport.
On the outside the SVR looks slightly more muscular than the regular F-Pace but you have to look twice to spot the differences, except for the larger wheels which look great. This is in my view exactly the right approach since the F-Pace is one of the better-looking SUV’s out there, far ligher in its design than many others and without the need for big skirts and wings. It should of course be mentioned that it’s a bit smaller than some of the cars mentioned above, still offering enough room for four but being a bit cramped for more than that. Where it shines far more than interior room is in two other areas – the drive and sound!
I haven’t driven the SVR but I have the opportunity to try the regular F-Pace as my father happens to have one, and it struck me as surprisingly agile with a good and direct steering. Given the reworking of the suspension and chassis that the SVR has been given, this seems to be only more so in the SVR. Those having tried usually claim it’s a better drive than a DBX or Cayenne, which is notable since they are the benchmarks here in this group. In addition to that there’s of course the sound, coming out of four very visible, chromed pipes in the back. That’s arguably the only styling feature on the car that isn’t discreet, and neither is the lovely sound that comes out of them. This is of course the same engine I have in my Range Rover, and I would personally not mind it sounding a bit more like that!
With Jaguar set to go electric in the coming years like most other brands (we’ll see how far they get…), it doesn’t take much to realize that there won’t be anything like the SVR in the future Jaguar line-up. That already makes the car interesting and it’s of course only more so when you realize that the price as new of around CHF/EUR 130.000 is roughly half that of a DBX with the same power or for that matter a Cayenne Turbo GT (which at 640 hp has more power). And this for a car that looks, drives and sounds better! The F-Pace had a very light face-lift in late 2020, most notably including the latest infotainment system that is now featured in all new Land Rover series. If you go for an almost new car from after the face-lift you can still easily take 20% off the price as new, and if you’re happy with the very similar pre-facelift version, then you’re looking at around half the price as new after only 3-4 years. Now we’re talking mega-bargain!
Power SUV’s of this type are still not my cup of tea, but the large majority out there obviously think differently which is absolutely fine. If you’re in that group and looking for a new set of wheels, you should definitely consider the F-Pace alongside the other, far more pricey competitors. After all, the money you save will leave enough room for a nice, real sports car to park next to it in your garage!