Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021 Drive Review : Allez Cat
Singapore - You’re spoilt for choice in the performance crossover segment, especially with everything from the Cayenne GTS/Turbo to the RS Q8 and the Urus to the GLE AMG and an assortment of M Sport Activity Vehicles powered by storming 4.0-litre V8s these days.
However, not all V8s are created equal, especially if you’re talking about the hairy-chested 5.0-litre at the heart of the Jaguar F-Type SVR (SVR refers to the vehicles tweaked by JLR's performance arm, SVO or Special Vehicle Operations).
In a time of downsizing, there’s no replacement for displacement and this certainly holds true for the Jaaaaag.
It isn’t the fastest or the most nimble of sports crossovers, but the charismatic V8 caged under its bonnet more than makes up for this in terms of drama and sheer force of personality.
Incidentally, the F-Pace SVR doesn’t just have a large displacement, it is also the only one (well, notwithstanding fellow JLR stablemate the Range Rover Sport SVR with which it shares this same engine) of its contemporaries to be supercharged.
This gives its propulsive prowess and soundtrack a different quality to the other turbo’d examples.
Despite its posh aesthetics, it’s a scrappy feline that rouses quickly to spitting, snarling anger… much like a cat on a hot tin roof. The visual c(l)ues to its performance credentials are subtle, but ignore them at your peril.
As with all such sporting machines, the aero/cooling elements are functional to ensure brakes/engine get enough air-flow and downforce, as opposed to merely being ‘cool-looking’ exercises in styling.
If those don’t give the game away, there’s the power bulge on the bonnet, powerful haunches and a smart set of 22-inch forged alloy rims to help beat it into you.
Like its RRS counterpart, the F-Pace SVR is stealthy-subtle as it prowls the streets of Singapore’s concrete jungle in search of unsuspecting prey.
Compared to their Teutonic counterparts, there aren’t as many of the two JLR SVR models on the roads, so listening to the 2.1-tonne SVR take-off at full-throttle remains a novel and stirring experience.
More impressive is the confidence-inspiring brake system's (395mm front rotors, 396mm rear rotors) ability to rein-in the big cat's big speeds time and time again!
The cabin is well-appointed with a goodly amount of the latest tech toys (11.4-inch HD touchscreen centrepiece lets you access JLR’s Pivi Pro infotainment system and a 12.3-inch configurable driver display with SV-specific graphics).
Most importantly, it has snugly supportive front sports seats keep you in place during the more ahem, boisterous bouts of driving.
In terms of wheelbase, the F-Pace SVR’s 2874mm sits between the Macan’s 2807mm and Cayenne’s 2895mm and while its 550hp/700Nm performance is in Cayenne Turbo / RS Q8 territory, the Jag’s S$460k on-the-road price-tag is closer to the Cayenne S's.
On the move, we’ve always appreciated the pliant and perfectly-damped ride offered by the SVR vehicles and the F-Pace SVR is no exception thanks to its Adaptive Dynamics suspension technology.
Some brands mistakenly think performance vehicles need to have rock-hard rides, where you feel you’re being flogged black-and-blue by a cat o’nine tails.
They don’t, because this just points to poor chassis tuning. A properly-sorted chassis can be both comfortable, as well as offer stellar body-control during red-mist driving, which is the sort of taut composure the F-Pace SVR delivers.
Pedal to metal, the feral 5.0-litre rouses readily to raucous, rowdy responses, which when coupled to the predatory reflexes, make for a ferocious drive that will invoke fight-or-flight responses in lesser cars… though it’s mostly flight we reckon, since this grumpy cat is the last thing you’ll want to face-off with.
The 8spd ZF automatic gearbox has proven time and again to be more than capable of delivering the sort of short, staccato shifts demanded by drivers of such sporting machines, yet is smoothly-slurred when the going is easy.
In this performance crossover segment, the purchase decision is more emotional than empirical, since such vehicles tend to sit alongside more exotic machines in the family garage.
Sometimes, it's not so much about "what's better?", but more about "what's different?" and you can't get something more different than the F-Pace SVR, which sits outside the familiar comfort zone of the VW/Audi/Porsche menagerie.
Besides, with such big, hearty V8s inexorably going out of fashion, you'd best enjoy them while you still can...
PHOTOS Clifford Chow
2021 JAGUAR F-PACE SVR
Engine 5000cc, V8, supercharged
Transmission 8spd ZF Auto
Top Speed 286km/h
Fuel Consumption 12.2l/100k