Sometimes it’s the little things that make your stomach flip.
One of those things for me happens to be the performance exhaust on the 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR.
The engine emits a low and rumbling purr that becomes a loud roar under hard acceleration. Pressed back in the driver’s seat, going flat out on a straight away to pass a slow truck on a narrow two-lane street, it happens at about 3,500 rpm.
The stomach flips. The heart skips.
And the roar turns into a growl turns back into a purr as the passing maneuver ends.
The first passing maneuver left me with a rush of adrenaline, and I scanned the horizon looking for who was next. Who else could I pass?
There were a few more during my brief time behind the wheel, and each time, I felt the same skip, flip, rush.
It left me wanting more.
So, I’d say Jaguar succeeded in creating something special with the execution of this new top-tier performance trim of its most popular vehicle.
The F-Pace is the first member of the Jaguar PACE family to get the SVR treatment, and in addition to some design tweaks that set it apart from the regular F-Pace, the SVR gets a major performance upgrade.
It comes equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that delivers 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. It has a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 176 mph.
For comparison’s sake, the SVR delivers 170 horsepower more than the V-6 engine and is a full second faster off the line.
Woof. Or should I say: Meee-ow?
To handle the extra power, F-Pace SVR also adds an aerodynamic package with unique front and rear bumpers, an SVR-tuned chassis with upgraded shocks and stiffer springs, 15.5-inch front and 15.6-inch rear disc brakes, slim-line performance seats and a SportShift gear selector.
Ross Restell, lead engineer for vehicle dynamics on the Special Vehicle Operations team, says SVO calls this vehicle “the Magnificent Beast” internally because it hits the sweet spot between comfort and performance.
And that’s a very apt description.
On the smoothly paved streets, I knocked it into dynamic mode, and I could feel the steering get a little tighter, and the throttle response become a little quicker. I also turned on the sport exhaust mode, which helped to usher in the skip, flip, rush during passing maneuvers.
Perhaps also aptly, that sport exhaust mode button has an image of dual exhaust pipes that perpetually makes me think of a cartoon character with eyes popping out of its head.
Once we hit some rougher road surfaces, I popped the F-Pace SVR out of dynamic mode and into comfort mode, where it became more well-mannered and better able to cope with the bumps and grooves.
The F-Pace SVR does come standard with all-wheel drive, but it has been specially tweaked to have a rear-wheel-drive bias, and there is never more than 50 percent of the power delivered to the front wheels.
The SVR certainly sounds different than the regular F-Pace models. But by looks, its distinguishing design differences include the SVR badging on the front and rear of the vehicle, functional hood vents that help extract hot air from the engine bay and the slim-line sport performance seats.
The test vehicle we drove had a sporty and vibrant red interior with carbon fiber accents, and the overall effect, paired with a white exterior paint, was very attractive.
The interior design is intuitive, and though the seat bottoms were a little too long for my petite size, the headrests and bolsters were well-designed and helped keep you in place during aggressive driving.
The F-Pace SVR does not get the Jaguar Touch Pro Duo two-screen infotainment system – yet. As the F-Pace is just two years into its lifecycle, it’s not quite due for a refresh, so big changes like that have yet to occur.
However, the In Control Touch Pro is nicely paired with hard-touch buttons that are intuitively placed.
As the top-tier model, the F-Pace gets a lot of nice design accents and a heck of a lot of power. Without adding any options, it will cost $80,985, including destination.
For comparison’s sake, the base F-Pace costs $45,795.
The F-Pace SVR will go on sale in the U.S. starting this summer.
The Bottom Line:
As the automotive world is moving toward an SUV-heavy lineup, the SVR version of the F-Pace is a shining example that all hope is not lost. The high-horsepower engine and sporting dynamics prove that an SUV can be just as fun to drive as a sports car.
The 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR does manage to combine both worlds really well. It can be a fun-to-drive commuter vehicle or a tamped-down family vehicle with the press of a button.
Magnificent Beast, indeed.
Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Jaguar covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.