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Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2020 review

The F-Pace SVR nails the job of being a performance SUV while staying comfortable and practical.
EXPERT RATING
7.8
The F-Pace SVR is Jaguar's blistering SUV attack on the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. But is it too late, or worth the wait?

I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to tell you this, but rumour is the reason why Jaguar’s berserk F-Pace SVR took so long to arrive - even as other brands were launching their own high-performance SUVs - was because a decision had been made to axe it before it even saw daylight.

Yup, about 12 months ago things were looking so uncertain for Jaguar Land Rover, what with Brexit and decreasing sales, that word is the British brand’s bosses drew a big, fat line through the F-Pace SVR to help cut costs.

Thankfully the decision was reversed and the F-Pace SVR went ahead. And I've just driven the first ones to arrive in Australia this week.

So, what’s this Jaguar hi-po SUV that almost didn’t happen like to drive? And how does it compare to rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S or Porsche Macan Turbo?  

The first F-Pace SVR has just landed. The first F-Pace SVR has just landed.

Jaguar F-Pace 2020: SVR
Safety rating
Engine Type5.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency11.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$140,262

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

A list price of $140,262 makes the SVR the most expensive F-Pace in the range. That’s almost double the price of the entry grade F-Pace R-Sport 20d and about $32K more than the supercharged V6 F-Pace S 35t below it in the line-up.

If you think that sounds like a lot to ask, then think again. Compared to an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q, which lists for $149,900, and the $165,037 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, it’s pretty good value. Only the Porsche Macan Turbo undercuts the SVR, with its $133,100 list price, but the German SUV is a lot less powerful. The Macan Turbo with the performance pack brings the ticket price to $146,600.  

Don’t forget, too, that a Range Rover Sport SVR has the same engine as the F-Pace SVR (but tuned to make an extra 18kW and 20Nm) and much of the same equipment for about $100K more.  

Coming standard on the F-Pace SVR is a 10-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 380W Meridian sound system, dual-zone climate control, adaptive LED headlights, 21-inch alloy wheels, proximity unlocking, leather upholstery, heated and cooled 14-way power adjustable sports seats up front, and heated rear seats. 

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

When I reviewed the F-Pace in 2016 I called it the most beautiful SUV in the world. I still think it’s ridiculously good looking, but time is catching up on the styling and the arrival of SUVs like the Range Rover Velar have made my eyes wander.

You can spot an SVR by its quad exhaust and by its bumper with those huge air intakes, there’s also the nostrilled bonnet, as well as the vents in the front wheel guards. It’s a tough but restrained look.

The SVR’s standard cabin is a luxurious place. Those slimline sports seat with their quilted leather upholstery are exquisite, and both comfortable and supportive. There’s the SVR steering wheel, which I think is too cluttered with buttons, but on a more positive note the rotary gear shifter is nowhere to be seen and instead there’s an upright trigger-grip shifter on the centre console.

The SVR’s standard cabin is a luxurious place. The SVR’s standard cabin is a luxurious place.

Also arriving as standard are the SVR luxury floor mats, meshed aluminium finisher on the dash, suede ebony headlining and ambient lighting. 

The SVR's dimensions are the same a regular F-Pace, except for its height. Length is 4746mm, width with the mirrors out is 2175mm, and its 23mm lower than other F-paces with a height of 1670mm. This means the SVR has a lower centre of mass which helps with handling.

Those dimensions make the F-Pace SVR a mid-sized SUV, but a little bigger than some.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The F-Pace SVR is more practical than you might think. I’m 191cm tall with a wingspan of close to 2.0m, and there’s plenty of space up front for my elbows and shoulders.

What’s more impressive is that I can sit behind my driving position with about 100mm of air between my knees and the seatback. Headroom is also good, even in the car I tested which had the optional sunroof that lowers the ceiling height.

The F-Pace SVR has 508 litres (VDA) with the second row in place. The F-Pace SVR has 508 litres (VDA) with the second row in place.

As for its cargo capacity, the F-Pace SVR has 508 litres (VDA) with the second row in place. That’s good, but not the best, with rivals such as the Stelvio and GLC boasting a bit more boot volume.

Cabin storage isn’t bad. There’s a large centre console bin under the armrest, and two cup holders up front and two in the back, but the door pockets are only big enough for wallets and phones.

Cabin storage isn’t bad. Cabin storage isn’t bad.

For charging and media, you'll find two USB ports along with a 12V outlet in the second row, and another USB port and 12V outlet in the front. The cargo area also has a 12V outlet.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division has given the F-Type R’s 405kW/680Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 to the F-Pace SVR. And despite the SVR being much bigger and fatter than the coupe, the shove that engine delivers for the SUV is outstanding.

Come to a halt and then stomp on the accelerator pedal and you’ll hurtle toward 100 km/h in 4.3s (only 0.2s behind the F-Type). I did this and I’m still a bit concerned I may have broken a rib in the process. Sure, that’s a little slower than rivals such as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio and GLC 63 S (both do it in 3.8 seconds), but it’s still plenty of oomph.

You’re not going to be ‘fanging’ the F-Pace like that all the time, and there’s enjoyment to be had even at low speed with the Jaguar’s angry exhaust note which also crackles and pops under load in the downshifts. The only way you can get a Stelvio Quadrifoglio to be this vocal is by pushing it hard or in Track mode. The F-Pace SVR sounds menacing even in Comfort, but even more so in Dynamic, and the burble at idle makes me go all giddy.

The F-Pace's 405kW eclipses the 375kW found in both the Alfa and Merc-AMG, while the Porsche Macan - even with the performance pack - makes 294kW.

Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic that’s not as quick as a dual-clutch, but still feels smooth and decisive.

The F-Pace is all-wheel drive, but with most of the power going to the rear wheels unless the system detects slippage.  

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Jaguar says you can expect its F-Pace SVR to slurp 11.1L/100km of premium unleaded over a combination of open and urban roads. During my time driving it on motorways and winding country roads the trip computer was reporting an average consumption of 11.5L/100km. That’s not far off the expected serving suggestion. For a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 the mileage isn’t bad, but this isn’t the most fuel-efficient way to travel. 

For a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 the mileage isn’t bad, but this isn’t the most fuel-efficient way to travel. For a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 the mileage isn’t bad, but this isn’t the most fuel-efficient way to travel.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The F Pace was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2017.

Standard advanced safety equipment includes AEB which can detect pedestrians, as well as blind spot and lane departure warning.

You will have to option adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance. 

The F-Pace SVR is a bit behind what we’re seeing on even budget SUVs when it comes to standard advanced safety and this is why it’s scored a lower mark here.

For child seats, there are three top-tether mounts and two ISOFIX points. A space-saver spare wheel is under the boot floor.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The Jaguar F Pace SVR is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty. Servicing is condition-based (your F-pace will let you know when it needs a check-up), and there’s a five-year/130,000km service plan available which costs $3550.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

I’ve been waiting to steer the F-Pace SVR for three years, following my first stint in the R Sport 20d. At the time one of my criticisms of that lower grade was: “An SUV like this should have the grunt to match.”

Well I can say the F-Pace SVR absolutely has the grunt to match its looks and intent. That supercharged V8 delivers all its 680Nm of torque from 2500rpm, and that’s low enough in the rev range to feel like it’s just about always there for quick lane changes and rapid acceleration whenever you want it.

Being able to move quickly, nearly instantly, creates a feeling of control, but don’t confuse that with this car being mindlessly easy to drive. I found care was needed on the twisty mountain roads where I tested the SVR.

Get onto the gas too soon out of a bend and the SVR can be a bit unforgiving and that rear end will step out, then snap back. Push it too hard into a corner and it’ll understeer.

Being able to move quickly, nearly instantly, creates a feeling of control. Being able to move quickly, nearly instantly, creates a feeling of control.

Those messages sent to me from the F-Pace out on that twisty road served as reminders that this was a tall and heavy, but very powerful, vehicle, and all that was needed was to pilot it with more sensitivity and engagement rather than force it to do things physics prevents.

Soon the good balance of the SVR, the precise turn in and that power worked together in harmony.

Along with the bigger engine and increase in horsepower, Special Vehicle Operations gave the SVR bigger brakes, stiffer suspension, an electronic active differential and larger lightweight alloy wheels.

There have been those who have complained about the SVR’s ride being overly firm, but even somebody like me who loves a whinge about how low profile tyres and hard suspension can be painful to live with couldn’t find anything wrong here. Sure, the ride is firm, but it’s far more comfortable and composed than that of the Stelvio.

Besides, if you want an SUV to handle as well as the SVR then the suspension needs to be stiff. Jaguar’s done an excellent job of finding the ride and handling sweet spot with this F-Pace.

If I have any complaints, it’s that the steering felt a bit quick and light. That’s fine for supermarkets and city driving, but in Dynamic mode blasting along country roads the I would have felt happier with heavier steering.  

Jaguar’s done an excellent job of finding the ride and handling sweet spot with this F-Pace. Jaguar’s done an excellent job of finding the ride and handling sweet spot with this F-Pace.

Verdict

The SVR might be the most anti-social member of the F-Pace family, what with its crackling exhaust note and bonnet nostrils, but it’s also absolutely the one to put in your driveway.

The F-Pace SVR nails the job of being a performance SUV while staying comfortable and practical better than many prestige SUVs in the segment.

Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio Quadrifoglio doesn’t feel anywhere as good to drive, and Merc-AMG is asking a good deal more for its GLC 63 S.

The F-Pace SVR provides sledgehammer acceleration, practicality, and also good value compared to the its closely related Range Rover Sport cousin.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing Guides

$140,262
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$140,262
Highest Price
$140,262
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership6
Driving9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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