Review: The 2022 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Is a Worthy Last Hurrah Before Electrification
While it’s hard to differentiate between SUVs these days, this high-performance British machine stands out
Here’s a strange commentary on late-stage internal combustion in the modern automotive industry: the final Jaguar model bearing a V8 engine will most likely not be the scintillating F-Type sports car.
Rather, the gorgeous grand tourer will be forced to share the spotlight with the big-shouldered F-Pace SUV — specifically the SVR edition, which stands as the mightiest people-mover in the British brand’s showroom. With a model timeline that stretches through at least the next few years, the hot rod version of Jaguar’s first sport-utility will claw to the last alongside the F-Type before it gives up its eight cylinders of fury prior to the full electrification of the automaker’s showroom.
The 2022 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is an outlier on the luxury scene as well, the only one remaining among its premium compact peers to avoid the temptations of turbos and instead proffer a supercharged, large displacement V8 under the hood. Driving the SVR is a singular experience, in part because it’s one of the older designs gracing the market, but also due to the way its sledgehammer thrust harkens back to a time when guttural exhaust exhortations were at least as important as the digits pasted on the spec sheet.
Big Numbers, Big Attitude
That’s not to say that the F-Pace SVR doesn’t deliver in the numbers department. Witness the 550 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque produced by its 5.0-liter engine — matched with standard all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission — figures that push it past anything of a similar size from BMW, Alfa Romeo or Audi. Further perusing of the F-Pace’s performance markers reveals a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.7 seconds, placing it in good company even among models featuring more advanced launch control systems.
With all that out of the way, I posit that the most effective aspects of the Jaguar’s personality can’t be so easily codified using anything as simple as quantitative measurements. Specifically, the SVR’s bruiser of an engine places it in a different category, experientially, than most of its peers (especially with Mercedes-AMG’s turbo eight-cylinder GLC 63 sitting out 2022 due to supply-chain issues). Featuring a rousing roar, the engine engages the ear and, by extension, the soul, in a way that the more muffled efforts of a turbocharged six-cylinder never could. This is doubly true when the F-Pace’s exhaust is set to its loudest parameters, achievable via a single button-push on the console (though this is an option that really should default to “on” at each ignition cycle).
The Jaguar F-Pace SVR also grabs you through the saddle with every full-throttle burst. With a torque curve that plateaus between 3,500 rpm and 5,000 rpm, the Jaguar benefits from seeking out higher engine speeds in a way that its turbo adversaries don’t, giving it a unique character that’s increasingly missing from the bottomless wells of low-end twist we’re increasingly accustomed to. Paired with respectable handling and a suspension system that, albeit bumpy on the uneven asphalt where I live, is perfectly capable of balancing the SUV’s not-inconsiderable curb weight through the corners, you have a hauler that beckons toward the open road once you’ve escaped the rigors of urban traffic.
Near Full Marks for Execution
What of those bumper-to-bumper moments in the SVR that make up more of life than the rare bursts of freedom under a canopy of autumn leaves I was able to sneak in now and again?
Jaguar has banished the clunky infotainment system that was the source of much frustration when dealing with navigation and media menus and replaced it with a right-sized screen that both looks good and quickly registers each and every interaction. You’ll still have to deal with affectations such as its push-and-pull dual-context heating and cooling controls, and occasionally frustrating plastic thumb switches on the steering wheel, but overall it’s a step in the right direction thanks to a thorough refresh that occurred the previous model year.
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The rest of the Jaguar’s cabin represents a pleasing mix of simple themes and upscale execution, with materials, fabrics and trim all falling in line with the expectations engendered by its $90,000 purchase price. It’s also reasonably spacious, pushing well past the BMW X3 M when it comes to cargo, which is surprising given exterior dimensions that don’t overwhelm.
If only I could make the same claims of craftsmanship about the SVR’s exterior. I couldn’t help being distracted from the driver’s seat by the gaps around the louvers pressed into the F-Pace’s vented hood, nor could I ignore the fact that someone — most likely a dealer tech — had taken a saw to the SUV’s lower front fascia to accommodate the entry point for a block heater plug. Details matter, and while overall handsome in its seared orange paint, the F-Pace’s exterior could have used a little more care in assembly.
Speeding Into the Sunset
Given that it hovers near the outer edge of the pricing corral surrounding go-fast SUVs wearing big-money badges, the 2022 Jaguar F-Pace SVR is relying on its dare-to-be-different details to draw in buyers who need a break from the conformity of M and AMG dominance. As with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the SVR is a legitimate alternative for comfort-seeking speed demons, but unlike its Italian competitor it doesn’t demand compromise when it comes to practicality and comfort, nor does it present the same peaky power delivery or reliability concerns.
We’re witnessing more than just the SVR’s final form here as it powers its way towards a steadily diminishing future. The muscled-up SUV is a harbinger of Jaguar’s full pivot away from the hydrocarbons that made the automaker top-of-mind during decades of high-performance dominance, and then again following a post-Millennial surge that raised the automaker’s voice as it returned to the luxury conversation. That the F-Pace takes on a shape that couldn’t have been conceived by the keepers of the brand’s original Coventry birthplace is a sign of the times more than a historical link — but the presence of a big blower under the bonnet feeding more cylinders than any of its would-be rivals have to offer provides at least one true paean to a glorious past.
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