I have driven many attention-grabbing cars around over the last year, from high-performance coupes to imposing trucks, luxury land yachts, fun little convertible roadsters, models most have yet to see on the road and a van with no rear windows. That last one gained a lot of attention from parents when I drove it through a neighborhood.
But nothing I have piloted garnered as much interest as the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, the performance-tuned variant of the F-Pace.
First, it’s easy to spot. On roadways full of boring neutral tones, the Jag’s Ultra Blue stood out like a berry on a cream pie. The SVR’s visual appeal goes beyond its color. It is an attractive and menacing looking crossover.
You know the old Jaguar commercial that came out a few years ago highlighting that the bad guys in movies all seem to drive Jags? The SVR looks the part. Its aggressive stance, sharply vented front fascia and hood, massive 22-inch wheels, rising character line and razor-thin head and tail lights gives the SVR the appearance of someone who would dump your books and shove you into a locker for no other reason than you happened to be walking by.
Even if someone didn’t see the SVR drive past, they would certainly hear it. With its active exhaust, the F-Pace has a marvelous noise, especially in the dynamic driving mode. At idle it grumbles like a rabid dog sizing up its victim, give it some throttle and it bellows a low growl while preparing to pounce. Floor it, and you hear the dog go into attack mode, shouting a thunderous, guttural bark that pops and snarls and makes its driver extremely happy.
It looks great and sounds fantastic, but the Jag is no driveway ornament.
The SVR gets bigger wheels, a lighter active exhaust system, stiffer springs, an Electronic Active Differential, dynamic suspension and several aerodynamic features over a standard F-Pace.
Of course, the Jag also gets bruiser under its vented hood, a 5-liter, supercharged V8 making 550 horsepower and 502 torque.
It is easy to adore this powerplant, unless you happen to not have any neck muscles, because it will throw your head around.
Drivers are met with instantaneous acceleration with the all-wheel drive putting down the SVR’s torque down immediately and effectively, getting the 4,400-pound crossover to 60 in 4.1 seconds. There did not seem to be any moments in which the Jag hesitated whenever I dropped the hammer. It just keeps piling on the speed until the SVR becomes a bright blue blur, and its quick responses provide immediate grunt when throttling out of corners.
Speaking of which, the SVR hunkers down through undulations like an offensive lineman in a four-point stance, only this lineman happens to have the speed of a wide receiver.
With the SVR-tuned chassis and an increase of 30 and 10 percent spring rate on the front and rear, the Jag handles sweeping corners and switchbacks with the gusto normally reserved for much lower and lighter performance offerings.
The cat’s steering feel is responsive, communicative and provides accurate changes in direction.
The SVR is downright fun to drive. And though it is perhaps the most subjective statements that can be made about a car, I would argue the Jag is supremely cool.
My argument includes the aforementioned aggressive appearance and sensational soundtrack, but there is also the exclusivity factor. Sure, it is not often that you see a Mercedes GLE63 S, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio or BMW X5M on the road, so driving one of the SVR’s alternatives will still have you stand out. However, the Benz is swollen to the point it looks like it has been sitting at the bottom of a pond for a week, the Alfa will likely break down, which certainly isn’t cool, and the BMW just doesn’t have the outward ‘wow’ factor of the Jag.
Another (Bill and Ted’s voice) awesome factor of the Jag is its usability.
Despite its performance setup, the SVR is still relatively relaxed in non-spirited ventures, as long as you can put up with a little stiffness. It is also accommodating, with plenty of room for two adults or three kids in the rear. Though stiff and sporty, the SVR’s supportive seats were magnificent and felt like they were poured around me. There is also 33.5-cubic feet of the cargo room behind the second row, and buyers can opt for rear seat remote lever to electronically decline the seats to nearly double the storage space.
The F-Pace also has All Surface Progress Control and Adaptive Surface Response to keep the cat on the road when the weather is less than ideal.
While the SVR evokes excitement, its interior is a bit watery. The quilted leather seats are easily the most eye-catching factor while the rest of the interior, including the center stack, is pretty dull. However, the Jag’s infotainment system, though slow to respond at times, is easy to use, and the 12.3-digital gauge cluster is bright and sharp.
The SVR comes standard with a panoramic roof, heated and cooled front seats, two-zone climate control, LED headlights with auto high beams, Wi-Fi hotspot and SiriusXM.
My tester included the Driver Assist Package ($3,600) which includes blind spot assist, a surround camera system, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, high-speed emergency braking and other features. Other ticks on the options box included 5-spoke, 22-inch wheels, carbon fiber trim in the center console and door handles, a head-up display and some other additions putting my SVR right at $10,000 over the starting price of $79,990.
There’s no arguing the Jag is fast and practical, and though it’s still subjective, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not find it fantastically fun and cool.
I certainly know I find the SVR to be one of the coolest cars I have driven over the last year, and many those who stopped me in parking lots to talk about it or those who nodded approvingly at red lights would seem to agree.
Maybe I just appreciate the Jag so greatly because, in the spirit of the company’s “villain” ad, I have always, deep down, kind of wanted to play the anti-hero. The truth is, I am actually a person who would apologize for causing harm to a person’s hand after they punched me without reason.
But behind the wheel of the extremely quick, bellowing SVR with its intimidating appearance, I can let out my villainous alter-ego, because there is no denying the Jag is one bad pussycat.