Pros-Sharp crossover styling. Very fast. Adroit handling. Roomy. All-wheel drive.
Cons-Almost too-fast steering. Slightly high step-in. No fuel miser. Why the oversized tachometer?
Bottom Line-Comfortable in town but a blast to drive given some open road.
The 2019 Jaguar F-Pace
SVR is no pussycat. Far from it. This slick crossover from Jaguar's Special Vehicle Operations team does 0-60 m.ph. in 3.7 seconds and reportedly tops out at 176 m.p.h. It will be virtually unchanged for 2020.
The $79,990 four-door hatchback F-Pace SVR has a supercharged 5-liter V-8 that generates 550 horsepower and 502 pound/feet of torque. Power shoots through a crisp-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with relatively short ratios that can be quickly shifted manually via paddle shifters. Thank goodness the previous rotary gear selector is gone.
Fuel economy isn't a strong point. It's an estimated 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on highways. However, the engine automatically turns off quickly to save fuel if you're stuck, say, by a freight train at a railroad crossing-then starts immediately when you're set to go.
The exhaust sound under hard acceleration is dramatic. Otherwise the engine, exhaust and interior are quiet.
There are tamer F-Pace models, but the SVR is worth the extra money. It can be compared to such formidable, costlier rivals as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Bentley Bentayga Speed and, yes, even the Lamborghini Uru With Jaguar's long, illustrious reputation it need not take a back seat to any of them.
Like virtually all Jaguars, the SVR has slick styling. There's an impressive grille with the Jaguar badge flanked by large air intakes, and the hood has two functional hood scoops. There also are functional vents behind the front wheels, a new smoother rear bumper and four hefty exhaust outlets bunched together in the center of the bumper that hint at the better-breathing exhaust system.
The SVR drives as if lighter than its approximately 4,600-pound weight. Helping keep it hug roads are chassis features including performance-tuned adaptive dampers and new springs that are 30 percent stiffer in front and 10 percent stiffer in back. Not mention the SVR's dynamic stability control, updated all-wheel-drive system with a rear-based torque split, brake-based torque vectoring and an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential.
No more than 50 percent of power is delivered to the front wheels. There big tires on 21 (22-inch optional) wheels. My test SVR had the optional wheels
The steering allows very sudden moves, but is almost too quick. It calls for a driver to pay attention to staying in his lane instead of wandering a bit into an adjoining lane. The brake pedal has a rather soft feel but the brakes bite early and with authority.
While on the firm side, the ride is comfortable for long-distance travel. There are three selectable driving modes: Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. The latter sharpens the throttle, transmission and chassis systems for more aggressive driving without causing occupants teeth to rattle.
The upscale, leather interior has heated and cooled, supportive, comfortable and powered front seats. However, it calls for a slight step up to enter the quiet cabin, and the wide cargo opening is a bit high for quick loading. However, the power hatch works fine, and the split rear seat backs can be easily folded forward to enlarge the spacious cargo area.
While billed as a five-seater, the SVR really only comfortably seats four adults, as the center of the rear set is too stiff to comfortably seat a fifth.
Curiously, there's a small digital speedometer tucked inside a large analog tachometer. I had no trouble reading the digital speedometer, but why not a large analog speedometer in such a sporty crossover. There's a pushbutton starter, and the dashboard and console are filled with lots of control buttons._ But controls are easy to use. A 10-inch touchscreen has a new graphic layout that won't cause headaches to use. I'm no expert on sound systems, but the optional surround sound system was really impressive.
There are the usual luxury vehicle features such as a two-zone climate control system and a panoramic sunroof.
Safety features include full-length side window curtain air bags, a rearview camera with a 360 parking aid, lane-keep assist and driver condition monitor and a traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter.
My test car had a $3,600 option package that contained such items as the larger 22-inch wheels, a 360 surround camera, adaptive cruise control, park assist, rear traffic monitor, the optional surround sound system, heated windshield and a head-up display.
Open the twin-strut hood and you'll find that no ugly plastic cover conceals the engine.
While it's not a slinky two-seater, this is a genuine Jaguar. Yes indeed.