2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR First Drive: It’s the little things
“It’s the culmination of six years of tuning,” said Ross Restell, manager of vehicle dynamics at JLR Special Vehicle Operations, as he showed us the Jaguar F-Pace SVR 2021. And after a few hours behind the wheel on some quiet English back roads, we won’t argue.
From a distance, the redesigned F-Pace SVR may not look much different from the SVR crossover it replaces, which was originally introduced in Europe in 2016. The output of 550 hp also remains the same. Up close, you’ll notice the new exterior fittings and the redesigned interior with its improved infotainment package. But a ride in this cleverly refreshed Jag SUV proves that sweating into the details pays off. Thanks to a number of small changes under the skin, the 2021 F-Pace SVR is more agile, yet more comfortable and a bit faster and noticeably quieter than the outgoing model.
What the new F-Pace SVR looks like – inside and out
Let’s start with what you can see. The updated F-Pace SVR builds on the upgrades to the exterior, interior and infotainment systems that were converted to the regular F-Pace for the 2021 model year. It has unique front and rear bumpers, as well as unique 21-inch and (in Europe) 22-inch wheels – the usual faster graphics, but they’re not all just for shows.
The hood, which now extends to the top of the grille, is vented to remove hot air and reduce air pressure in the engine compartment, which can create lift at high speeds. The radiator grille is flanked by two massive ventilation slots that direct the cooling air to the brakes. This air is then discharged from the two side vents just behind the front wheels under the car. The rocker panels are designed with small wings behind the front and rear wheels to reduce the amount of turbulent air on the side of the vehicle. And these cuts in the back corners are not there to pack the reflectors. Rather, the reflectors obscure the way the sides of the rear bumper were pushed out to keep the airflow as clean as possible. Four exhaust systems with Panzerfaust caliber protrude from this.
The sum total of the aero improvements to the body results in 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 is enough to increase the top speed by 2 mph to 178 mph, aided by the engine, which is now its 550-horsepower peak from 250 rpm to 500 rpm / min higher at the speed achieved range than before.
The cost reduction provided by JLR bean counters cursed the original F-Pace with an inexcusably good looking interior that was the complete anthesis of what you’d expect from a Jaguar. In the 2021 F-Pace SVR, the hard black plastic was relegated to the B-pillar covers, the door openings and the storage units in the doors themselves. Almost everything else is wrapped in leather, with Alcantara inserts on the seats and doors. The new 12.3-inch touchscreen is framed by Alcantara with ebony stitching, while aluminum pattern finishers are standard. Open-pored carbon fibers are optionally available.
The optional lightweight sports seats of the SVR not only look good, they are also very comfortable. The most useful upgrade for 2021, however, is the little rotary dial to the right of the redesigned gear stick, which makes switching between driving modes a simple, intuitive twist of your fingertips rather than the frustrating push and button of the old car install. Thanks to the new electrical architecture of the EVA2 (seen for the first time in the new Defender; every control module in the car was changed in the F-Pace), the settings for the dynamic mode for engine, steering, suspension and transmission can be easily switched individually and settings for comfort mode.
The big differences of the SVR are under the sheet metal
Now for the parts you can’t see that really make a difference. The original F-Pace SVR’s engine had 502 lb-ft of torque, and the torque peak was reduced slightly in the lower gears to protect the transmission. The 2021 model’s eight-speed automatic now features the same tougher torque converter as the manic Jaguar XE Project 8 SV sedan, which allowed SVO engineers to boost maximum torque from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm to 516 lb-ft. The revised gearbox also enables start control. More torque helps the 2021 SVR reach 60 mph 0.3 seconds than the old model and stops the watch at 3.8 seconds.
Acceleration is aided by the fact that in dynamic mode the standard torque distribution sends 90 percent of the drive to the rear wheels. In comfort mode, the front-to-rear torque distribution is 30/70, while in traction mode it is 50/50. The system can send up to 100 percent of the drive to the rear wheels at full throttle, but never sends more than 50 percent to the front axle.
The 15.6-inch disc brakes have been carried over from the previous SVR, but the braking system has been recalibrated and now has an electric booster designed for shorter pedal travel and a better driving experience. The electric power steering has also been recalibrated. The biggest change to the chassis, however, was the suspension bushing. “Each compliance socket has been examined and changed if necessary,” says Restell, manager of vehicle dynamics. The aim was to improve lateral stiffness while reducing impact hardness and noise.
And that’s the first thing you notice when you get behind the wheel of the 2021 F-Pace SVR. The response is noticeably crisper than the old car, but the ride quality is now sweeter even on the 22-inch wheels and the tires knock a lot less.
But why still only 550 hp? Why not drive on 575 hp like the Range Rover Sport SVR? You don’t need that, says Michael van der Sande, head of JLR Special Vehicle Operations, who points out that the F-Pace is significantly lighter than the Range Rover Sport and therefore faster anyway. “What we’re trying and doing is really pinpointing the character of the underlying car and reinforcing it. It’s a little different from some of our competitors who tend to look at everything very carefully through a performance lens.”
That explains why the Jaguar F-Pace SVR feels so much lighter than its Range Rover cousin with a much more responsive front axle. And why the way this Jaguar drives down the road has a well-rounded sophistication that its strong German rivals cannot match, not only in terms of chassis balance and driving behavior, but also in terms of the sensitive feedback via the steering wheel and brake pedal . The 2021 F-Pace SVR is a simple, relaxing car to go fast. How a jaguar should be.
Looks good! More details?
|2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR|
|LAYOUT||Front engine, four wheel drive, 5 pass, 4 door SUV|
|ENGINE||5.0 l / 550 hp / 516 lb-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 s (mfr)|
|EPA FUEL ECON, CITY / HWY / COMB||15/22/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / HWY||225/153 kWh / 100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.11 lb / mile|