Review: The 550-HP Jaguar F-Pace SVR Sounds Insane and Looks Great, But…

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Pros:

  1. It looks great …
  2. … and sounds even better.
  3. Now offers summer tires

Cons:

  1. A bit claustrophobic
  2. Aged infotainment system
  3. Interior not Jaguar quality

When we have an SUV of the Year contender as downright fun to drive as the 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR, it becomes super helpful to have our six Of The Year criteria to help guide us. A quick look at our notebooks shows the internal philosophical struggle the judges faced.

Editor-in-chief Ed Loh: “Hello, darkness, my old friend. I love its five-hundred-fitty-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine. Does it feel like it has 502 lb-ft of torque? Maybe. It does sound insane, the best-sounding engine here.”

MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina: “This is a beast of an engine!”

Normally staid senior production editor Zach Gale: “Lalalala, I can’t hear you!

The F-Pace SVR’s special sauce is hard to resist. It’s one of the few SUVs to drive as good as it looks. Its monstrous supercharged V-8—an increasing rarity in this world—rewards liberal throttle usage with a glorious engine note and a hard shove back into your seat, and its quick-shifting automatic and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive help the Jag put its power down both on the track and in our light off-road course.

The SVR finally handles and stops as it should, too, thanks to the addition of optional summer tires after the F-Pace’s fourth-place finish in our Super SUV showdown. Its steering response is tight and precise, with crisp initial bite from the tires. Braking performance has also improved.

However, although all of the above speaks highly of engineering excellence and performance of intended function, our four other criteria—safety, value, design, and efficiency—sober up the Zach Gales of the world.

Normally favoring performance hinders ride quality, but as executive editor Mark Rechtin noted, “Despite its checkered flag predilections, the suspension is remarkably supple over really nasty bumps.”

Regarding design: There’s no doubt about it—the F-Pace is one of legendary designer Ian Callum’s finest works, and it only looks better replete with the SVR’s massive air intakes, oversized wheels, and in its French racing blue (officially “Ultra Blue”) paint. But there are certainly prices to be paid in hauling people and their stuff.

For starters, there’s no denying the somewhat claustrophobic cabin. Although the overall space is good, the high beltline makes front occupants feel like toddlers. Locating the window switches well above the armrest, near the side-view mirrors, is a baffling decision. Adults in the back seat will struggle to peek out of the F-Pace’s windows.

Then there are the issues of the F-Pace’s telematics and its interior appointments. Jaguar’s latest infotainment suite—shared with Land Rover products—is thankfully CarPlay compatible at last, but the interface is still clunky, unresponsive, and prone to freezing. Trust us, you don’t want to be hunting and pecking on a lagging touchscreen to adjust the A/C while piloting your 550-hp SUV down a winding road.

Interior material quality was another of the F-Pace’s downfalls at its previous SUV of the Year go-around. Quite simply, the cheap-looking trim pieces and hollow-feeling plastics detracted from the idea that this is a proper luxury crossover. With a few years separating its initial offering, we’re pleased to see Jaguar has moved the $89,900 (as-tested) crossover upmarket—but perhaps not enough to justify its price tag.

“In terms of special touches, it’s not perfect,” Loh said. “There still isn’t enough differentiation from lower-trim F-Paces, which had lots of plastic bits. But at least the SVR gets things like a real metal shifter, an Alcantara headliner, carbon-fiber trim, and cross stitching.”

Despite the fun we all had with the F-Pace SVR, adding more horsepower and making the F-Pace handle even better still doesn’t fix all its flaws.

2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Base Price/As Tested $81,625/$89,900
Power (SAE net) 550 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 502 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 3.9 sec
Quarter Mile 12.2 sec @ 113.4 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 114 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.88 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 25.1 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 16/21/18 mpg

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