The 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Sweats the Details
It's the little things that make Jag's updated high-performance SUV even better for 2021.
"It's the pinnacle of six years' worth of tuning," JLR Special Vehicle Operations vehicle dynamics manager Ross Restell says as he shows us around the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. And after a few hours behind the wheel on some quiet English back roads, we're not about to argue.
From a distance, the revised F-Pace SVR may not look all that different from the SVR crossover it replaces, which originally debuted in Europe in 2016. Even the power output—550 hp—remains the same. Up close, you'll notice the new exterior hardware and the revamped interior with its upgraded infotainment package. But one drive of this deftly refreshed Jag SUV proves that sweating the details pays off. Thanks to a bunch of small changes under the skin, the 2021 F-Pace SVR is more agile yet more comfortable and slightly quicker yet noticeably quieter than the outgoing model.
How the New F-Pace SVR Looks—Inside and Out
Let's start with the stuff you can see. The refreshed F-Pace SVR builds on the exterior, interior, and infotainment system upgrades made to the regular F-Pace for the 2021 model year. It gets unique front and rear bumpers, along with unique wheels in 21-inch and (in Europe) 22-inch sizes—the usual go-faster visuals, but they're not all just for show.
The hood, which now stretches all the way forward to the top of the grille, is vented to help get rid of hot air and reduce air pressure in the engine bay that can cause lift at speed. The grille is flanked by a pair of massive vents that direct cooling air to the brakes. That air is then taken out from under the car by the two side vents just behind the front wheels. The sill panels feature small vanes behind the front and rear wheels to help reduce the amount of turbulent air along the side of the car. And those gashes on the rear corners are not there to package the reflectors. Rather, the reflectors disguise the way the sides of the rear bumper have been pushed out to keep the airflow as clean as possible. Four bazooka-caliber exhausts peek out from under it.
The sum total of the bodywork aero enhancements is a 35 percent reduction in lift and a drop in the drag coefficient from 0.37 to 0.36. That doesn't sound like much, but it's enough, Restell says, to deliver a 2-mph increase in the top speed to 178 mph, helped by the engine now achieving its 550-hp peak 250 rpm to 500 rpm higher up the rev range than before.
Cost-cutting by JLR bean counters cursed the original F-Pace with an inexcusably cheap-looking interior that was the complete anthesis of what you'd expect in a Jaguar. In the 2021 F-Pace SVR, the hard black plastic has been banished to the B-pillar covers, the door apertures, and the storage units in the doors themselves. Pretty much everything else is wrapped in leather, with Alcantara inserts on the seats and doors. The new 12.3-inch touchscreen is bordered by Alcantara with ebony stitching, while aluminum patterned finishers are standard, with open-pore carbon fiber available as an option.
The SVR's optional lightweight sport seats not only look the part but are also very comfortable. The most useful upgrade for 2021, however, is the small rotary controller to the right of the redesigned shifter, which makes switching between drive modes a simple, intuitive twirl of the fingertips rather than the frustrating hunt-and-peck of the old car's button setup. The new EVA2 electrical architecture (first seen in the new Defender; putting it in the F-Pace meant changing every control module in the car) means the Dynamic mode settings for the engine, steering, suspension, and transmission can be easily toggled individually to Comfort mode settings.
The SVR's Big Differences Lie Under the Sheetmetal
Now for the bits you can't see that really make a difference. The original F-Pace SVR's engine made 502 lb-ft of torque, and the torque peak was diminished slightly in the lower gears to protect the transmission. The 2021 model's eight-speed automatic now has the same, more robust torque converter as used in the manic Jaguar XE Project 8 SV sedan, which has allowed SVO engineers to bump peak torque to 516 lb-ft, from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm. The revised transmission also allows launch control. More torque helps the 2021 SVR get to 60 mph 0.3 second than the old model, stopping the clock at 3.8 seconds.
The acceleration is helped by the fact that in Dynamic mode the default torque split sends 90 percent of the drive to the rear wheels. In Comfort mode, the front to rear torque split is 30/70, while in low-traction modes it's 50/50. The system can send up to 100 percent of the drive to the rear wheels on wide-open throttle but will never send more than 50 percent to the front axle.
The 15.6-inch disc brakes carry over from the previous SVR, but the brake system has been recalibrated and now features an electric booster designed to deliver a shorter pedal travel and improve feel. The electric power steering has also been recalibrated. But the biggest change to the chassis has been to the suspension bushing. "Every compliance bush was studied and changed if needed," vehicle dynamics manager Restell says. The aim was to improve lateral stiffness while reducing impact harshness and noise.
And that's the first thing you notice once you get behind the wheel of the 2021 F-Pace SVR. Turn-in response is noticeably crisper than in the old car, but there is now a honeyed layer to the ride quality, even on the 22-inch wheels, and much less thump and roar from the tires.
But why still only 550 hp? Why not go to 575 hp, like the Range Rover Sport SVR? Doesn't need it, says JLR Special Vehicle Operations boss Michael van der Sande, who points out the F-Pace is significantly lighter than the Range Rover Sport and is thus faster anyway. "What we try and do is be really specific about the character of the underlying car and amplify that. It's a bit different from some of our competition, who tend to look at everything very much through a performance lens."
Which explains why the Jaguar F-Pace SVR feels so much lighter on its feet, with a much more responsive front axle, than its Range Rover cousin. And why there's a rounded sophistication to the way this Jaguar goes down the road that its powerful German rivals can't match, not just in the chassis balance and the ride but also in the delicate feedback through the steering wheel and brake pedal. The 2021 F-Pace SVR an easy, relaxing car to drive fast. Like a Jaguar should be.
|2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||5.0L/550-hp/516lb-ft supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,700 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||187.5 x 77.1 x 65.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec (mfr)|
|EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB||15/22/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.11 lb/mile|