ON THE ROAD: JAGUAR F-PACE SVR

Jaguar recently facelifted their fire-breathing F-PACE SVR without much fanfare. Rather ironic considering that the mid-sized performance SUV will make its presence known to anyone within a five kilometre radius of its four exhaust tailpipes.

The Coventry UK-based manufacturer’s offering in this burgeoning segment represents a commitment to old-school hot-rodding. Where peers such as the BMW X4M, Porsche Macan GTS and Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV all utilise twin turbocharged 6-cylinder units around the 3.0-litre displacement mark, the F-PACE begins with a formidable 5.0-litre V8. It then goes on to add an Eaton TVS supercharger for a colossal 405kW and 700Nm, up from 680Nm in the pre-facelift. It puts this power down through the venerable ZF 8-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system.

All this is wrapped in what is arguably the prettiest sheet metal in the segment. Our unit was painted in a Bespoke Avo Gloss Green colour. The sleek silhouette flows naturally from Jaguar’s classic feline-esque front fascia and manages to furnish this brute with elegance without diluting any of its natural aggression. Jaguar Land Rover DNA is evident however, as a group of keen-eyed teenagers ogling the car remarked that the rear looks a bit like that of the Range Rover Velar, which is not a bad likeness! While aesthetic preferences are subjective, the F-PACE SVR is an undeniable head-turner.

Design elegance is carried through to the interior. Individual buttons have been hidden beneath solid panel for a minimalist look, a decision I prefer to purely touch sensitive buttons. However even though the buttons are surrounded by ridges to aid in locating them, they do still require taking your eyes off the road to be sure you’re pressing the correct one. The implementation of the heating controls is among the most pleasing I’ve experienced – a multifunction rotary knob that is able to switch between fan speeds, temperature and seat heating/cooling controls by pushing and pulling, and a digital display embedded inside the knurled ring. A Meridian sound system and large 29cm tablet-style touch screen handle the infotainment interface, as is common in 2022. The screen’s size and positioning complement the interior design and it doesn’t look like an afterthought.

Boot space – at 613 litres – is plentiful, but the passenger cabin felt like it ought to have been a bit roomier considering the overall size of the car. The seats strike a fantastic balance between comfort and support and never left me wanting whether driving enthusiastically or cruising on the highway. Of course, a panoramic sunroof brings in loads of light during the day and ambient lighting lifts the interior after dark.

The F-PACE’s happy place is on wide, long and smooth highways. The ride is rather firm even with the adaptive dampers in comfort mode however it is not harsh, and it cruises at the national speed limit without breaking a sweat while the gearbox rarely had to downshift when overtaking. Fuel consumption even dropped from about 19L/100km in town to 7.4L/100km in ECO Mode with adaptive cruise control.

Traditionally, anything weighing north of two tonnes and with a centre-of-gravity approaching waist-height is not the ideal starting point for a dynamic and engaging driving experience. But such is the popularity of the segment that engineers, I suspect to their joy, are tasked with the minor challenge of defying physics.

The astounding supercharged V8’s seemingly endless linear power hurtled me towards corners with ease. What goes up must come down and the business of slowing down is accomplished by the decent 6-piston steel brakes. Turn-in is surprisingly brisk, thereafter the Jag simply wants to continue going straight as the steering loads all the way up. There’s noticeable understeer under power and a lot of unnerving movement under heavy cornering as the suspension wrestles against the weight and high centre of gravity. The SVR is definitely not a precision tool. What it is, is a sophisticated oaf that pummels the tarmac into submission rather than nibble at apexes.

You would be totally forgiven for purchasing the F-PACE SVR for the engine alone. It’s such a charming piece of engineering whose character spills over into every corner of the car. It sounds like Thor’s hammer rolling down Mount Olympus with the exhaust valve in “obnoxious mode”, and it brings joy to anyone near it. But not only do you get one of the last great internal combustion engines, you get a gorgeous, comfortable and usable 5-seater that will make those road trips extra memorable.

QUICK STATS

JAGUAR F-PACE SVR (2022 MY)

ENGINE: Supercharged 5.0-litre V8

POWER: 405kW at 6 500rpm

TORQUE: 700Nm between 3 500rpm and 5 000rpm

0 – 100KM/H: 4 seconds

GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic

DRIVE: AWD

TOP SPEED: 286km/h

AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION: 14 litres per 100km

RANGE: 585km

CO2 e: 260 g/km

PRICE STANDARD: R1 965 000

NATURAL RIVALS: Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV, BMW X3 M and X4 M Competition, Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 AMG, Porsche Macan GTS

PRICE RIVALS: BMW X4 M Competition, Porsche Panamera 4 Executive, Range Rover Sport P400e

BABE-MAGNETIC FACTOR: Extremely High

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