• 550-horsepower supercharged V8
  • Top speed of 176 mph
  • Rear-biased all-wheel drive system
  • Paddle-shift 8-speed automatic
  • SportShift gear selector replaces rotary dial
  • Prices start at $79,990

 

Jaguar has an internal nickname for its new F-Pace SVR: the Magnificent Beast. Based on our recent drive of the new 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR in France, we’ll say this: That nickname is entirely appropriate.

This sportiest Jaguar SUV is fitted with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 550 horsepower (44 percent more power than the available supercharged V6) and 502 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a top speed of 176 mph, and a sprint to 60 mph in only 4.1 seconds. The quarter mile? It arrives in only 12.3 seconds, at 115 mph.

Indeed, this new Jaguar SUV is a potent machine, designed to compete with the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Porsche Macan Turbo. Here’s what the folks at Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team have done to create their Magnificent Beast.

More power, better suspension

Engine compartment,

The supercharged 5.0-liter V8, basically the same engine found in the Range Rover Sport SVR, sends power through an 8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission to a rear-biased all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that delivers no more than 50 percent of the power to the front wheels. This gives the new F-Pace SVR a sporty rear-drive feel, one that’s enhanced by electronic torque vectoring (to reduce understeer) and a standard electronic limited slip differential that makes sure both rear wheels power this compact SUV out of corners.

The chassis and suspension are similarly modified. The front springs are 30 percent stiffer than stock, and the rears are increased by 10. In addition to retuned Bilstein shock absorbers, the new F-Pace SVR also benefits from firmer suspension bushings and a 1mm larger rear anti-roll bar. These modifications make the F-Pace SVR a nimble driver’s car that will drift its tail a bit when powering out of tight turns. Of note, body roll—how much the F-Pace chassis leans toward the outside in turns—has been reduced by five percent.

Bigger brakes

Other chassis improvements include huge 2-piece brake discs (15.5 inches in front, 15.6 inches in back), complemented by 21- or optional 22-inch wheels fitted with staggered-width P Zero tires developed in conjunction with Pirelli. All-season tires are standard on U.S.-bound F-Pace SVRs, but the vehicles we sampled in Europe were fitted with grippy summer rubber. The forged wheels, along with the lighter brakes, reduce unsprung mass to further improve the SVR’s handling.

Also notable is the SVR’s “Variable Valve Active Exhaust System.” Inspired by that of the Jaguar F-Type sports car, this 4-outlet exhaust is less restrictive and a substantial 14.5 pounds lighter than the F-Pace’s stock system, but it doesn’t do much to muffle what Jaguar calls the SVR’s “charismatic soundtrack.” While the F-Pace SVR does sound great, especially on initial start-up, one executive admitted that this new Jaguar’s roar is right on the limit of legality. Fortunately, a switch on the center console lets the driver toggle between a stock exhaust note and a more aggressively open setting.

One last note: The software for the adaptive suspension—along with that for the electric-assist steering and dynamic drive mode (which firms the shocks, sharpens throttle response, reduces steering assist and calls for higher-rpm gearshifts)—is unique to the SVR.

Getting the air in. And out

Jaguar has gone to great lengths to ensure that the big supercharged V8 of the F-Pace SVR gets all the intake and cooling air it needs. As such, the openings in the SVR’s front bumper are larger, and they team with a pair of hood vents for improved cooling airflow.

Around the side of the F-Pace SVR, the vents behind the front wheels look like they might be purely cosmetic, but they’re real. By channeling air out of the wheel arches, they help to minimize lift. An extended rear roof spoiler further improves high-speed stability, aided by a smooth underbody and a rear diffuser. The unique fender lips and lower body moldings help to visually lower the vehicle for a more muscular appearance, but the SVR has the same ground clearance as the standard F-Type to maintain the same amount of suspension travel.

At the rear, a new bumper cap houses the quad tailpipes. Its integral side strakes improve vehicle aerodynamics by smoothing the airflow off the rear of the vehicle.

Interior changes

Interior,Interior

As you’d expect of a compact sport-utility vehicle with the manners of a sports sedan, the new Jaguar F-Pace SVR is fitted with special seats that provide excellent lateral support. Sporting quilted leather seating surfaces and adorned with SVR logos, these heated and cooled front seats proved to be all-day comfortable. Of note: Their integral headrests can’t be raised, so taller drivers might feel some pressure on the backs of their necks.

Other interior updates include the rotary dial gear selector of the precious Jaguar F-Pace SUV being replaced by Sportshift, a more traditional-looking stick like that used in the F-Type sports car. Although this electronic lever, which has a Park button, can be nudged fore or aft for downshifts and upshifts, we suspect most people will use the SVR's large aluminum shift paddles. 

Driving the Magnificent Beast

Throw out any notions you may have that sport-utes are tippy, heavy machines with lethargic handling manners. On the contrary, the 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is planted, responsive and fast, with phenomenal grip and a gearbox that shifts when you want it to. And although it’s undeniably loud, the F-Pace SVR won’t beat you up with overly firm suspension tuning.

The moment the V8 engine comes to life, the F-Type SVR tells you it’s a serious machine, one that proved to be totally fun on the twisty canyon roads of France’s Haute Provence region. The immense torque of the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 made quick work of the short straights between corners on the Route Napoleon.

When it was time to slow the 4,400-pound Jaguar, the massive brakes were up to the task, providing plenty of stopping power but without the rock-hard pedal feel of, say, a Porsche. Nevertheless, it was clear to us that Jaguar’s new F-Type SVR has been tuned by enthusiastic engineers who like to drive.

One of these people is Mike Cross, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer, who explained: “The F-PACE SVR delivers the handling and agility to match its performance. Everything from the steering to the bespoke suspension set-up has been tuned specifically for our performance SUV and the result is a vehicle that lives up to the promise of both the F-Pace and SVR names.”

A practical performer

,

So, we’ve established that the Jaguar F-Pace SVR drives like a particularly ferocious sport sedan, especially when it’s in dynamic driving mode. But how is it as an SUV? 

Remarkably good. The new SVR is every bit as practical as a standard F-Pace, and it has all the same versatility, what with its 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat. When the front seats are all the way back, rear leg room is scant, but we must remember that this Jag is a compact 2-row SUV, not a midsize one. Moreover, with its standard 12.3-inch interactive driver display/instrument cluster and 10-inch infotainment touch screen, the SVR is fully modern inside, aided by an available 4G WiFi connection.

How much does the 2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR cost?

The 2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR starts at $79,990. Adding 22-inch wheels in gloss black is another $2,550, while an 825-watt Meridian sound system is available for $450.

Of the several different interior packages available, we think the $300 SmartPhone Pack, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, will be one of the most popular. A Driver Assistance Pack bundles together blind-spot assist with adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and a rear traffic monitor, all for $3,600. There’s also an abbreviated Drive Pack, which features blind-spot assist, emergency braking and adaptive cruise (with Stop & Go) for $1,700.

The particular 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR we drove, an Ultra Blue model fitted with the Driver Assist Pack and the Meridian sound system—plus 22-inch wheels and a luxury interior package that includes a cooled glovebox and 4-zone climate control—climbed to $90,490, a price that included a destination charge of $1,025.

How does the F-Pace SVR stack up against its competitors?

Although we haven’t had the chance to compare the new Jaguar F-Pace SVR against the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Porsche Macan Turbo head-to-head, here’s our initial seat-of-the-pants observation: The new Jaguar F-Pace SVR may not be quite as rip-roaringly sporty as the Alfa but this raucous new SUV feels far less clinical than the Porsche. And although all three of these insanely capable SUVs seem to defy physics with their sports car-like manners, only one, the Jag, is known internally as the Magnificent Beast. 

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