As subtle as an over-powered SUV gets, but still fun. Not too pricey
Thirsty. Even in a much-improved cabin, the switchgear's still not right
What is it?
The original manifestation of the F-Pace SVR was a machine we enjoyed. It was terrific for long distances, big loads and bad conditions. And mostly a good deal more subtle than you were expecting of a 550bhp supercharged alpha-SUV. Yet it was able to turn a slyly amusing side when you wanted it to.
But the interior was a right let-down. Not the space or comfort, but the ambience and the screen systems. They were obsolescent when it was launched, never mind come facelift time. So those have a had a major going-over. Same for all F-Pace versions.
The dash is subtly reshaped, and has more definition and visual structure. Extra fillets of metallic trim are welcome supporting actors. The heater controls look better and mostly feel it.
The central screen system is JLR's very fine Pivi Pro (they never satisfactorily explained that name). It has been well received on the Defender and is now cropping up all over the LRs and Jaguars.
In most ways the mechanicals are unchanged. But as performance engineers just can't resist, there are small enhancements all over the place.
The muscly supercharged V8 now makes yet more torque – a very healthy 516lb ft from 3,000rpm. Also a tiny bit more power, again not at all undernourished at 550bhp. So another 2mph on the top speed, at 178mph – wholly irrelevant except for bragging rights against Germans limited to 155. And a shaved 0-62, at 4.0 seconds.
What it still does not have, against all fashion and conscience, is any form of hybridisation. We'd respectfully point out you can get very close to the same performance and space with vastly lower running costs in Jaguar's own I-Pace, still the best-driving electric SUV.
The calibration of the SVR's chassis electronics – steering assistance, damper tuning and rear diff – have been tweaked too. That was possible because the whole car has a new electrical system. Plus there are improvements to suspension bushes and links. The brakes have a new booster, and better cooling.
Design changes for the F-Pace facelift include a bonnet that snuggles right up to the grille, removing a cutline. Lights are new front and rear. Know the SVR by its bigger nostrils for better cooling, holes in the bonnet to breathe out heat, vents behind the wheels to smooth air past, and a new rear valance. Above the rear screen, the spoiler has its own spoiler.
Truth is mind you, if the punters find a reason not to take to a car when it's new, they seldom flock back even if the problems are fixed at facelift time. So don't expect to see too many of these. Even if it's brilliant.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The F-Pace is a bit of an outlier, because it slots between two of the SUV size packages that the Germans decree. And actually, the idea of something less bulky and less flash than a full-size German SUV is pretty appealing to us.
Same with the SVR. It has a character of its own versus other über-SUVs. The engine is fun to use but less of a bare-fanged animal than others, and the whole car is nicely laid back as a daily companion.
Unless you deliberately go looking for its sharper side. When you do, it's pretty darned engaging.