2022 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Review
The Hot Hatch, All Grown Up
SAN DIEGO — I love a good hot hatch. The combination of practicality and zoom zoom performance is a winner for me.
As much fun as my Mazda3 hatchback was in my twenties, at some point, you have to grow up and buy something a little more adult. And, once you reach a certain age, you might find yourself wanting a luxury SUV of some kind.
But what if, despite being a "responsible adult," you still have that hot hatch itch? That's why the performance SUV exists, and nearly every luxury manufacturer offers one. One of my favorites is this week's test car, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.
The F-Pace is a somewhat dull luxury SUV… Until you put a supercharged 5-liter V8 making 550 hp under the hood. Mix in some bonkers styling cues, including 22-inch wheels, aerodynamic front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and an upgraded chassis tuned for performance (including enormous 15-inch disc brakes), and suddenly you've hot hatchified the decorous F-Pace into a raucous family hauler.
It'll win you a good number of red light drag races — or at least put a smile on your face thanks to the glorious SVR active exhaust, complete with a button that makes the exhaust louder that should permanently be set to "ON."
To be sure, the sport-tuned suspension is not exactly comfortable on rough, pothole-strewn roads. But if you're the type to drop more than $90,000 on a 500+ horsepower luxury SUV, do you care? No, you do not. If you want plush comfort, stay far away from the letters SVR.
Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and even Volvo make fancy performance versions of all their SUVs. But the Jag feels a bit different. More memorable, even if I can't quite tell you why. The quad exhaust pipes are borrowed from the terrific F-Type sports car (as is the engine), and perhaps this SUV is best described as a four-door version of that sports car.
If the F-Type is a midlife-crisis car, the F-Pace SVR is an I've-come-to-terms-with-my-mortality-but-I'm-still-young-at-heart car. It's the SUV you buy when you pine for a gloriously pointless sports coupe but still want to be able to go grocery shopping and fit luggage and four humans inside.
And the inside is lovely, as is the case with most vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover. Jag has fallen by the wayside a bit as JLR has focused on revamping the Land Rover lineup with great vehicles like the new Defender, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport — but the F-Pace has reaped many of the benefits.
A beautiful 11-inch touchscreen running JLR's Pivi Pro infotainment system dominates the dash, including support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (and it's one of the best-looking screens when you're using CarPlay, I should add). I like the big knurled chrome knobs for adjusting the temperature, but I don't love that you need to press them in and turn them to adjust the heated and ventilated seats.
It's a confounding control scheme, and it's far too easy to assume the car doesn't have heated seats than to notice the tiny little seat indicators on the controls. Seat heaters should be prominent and easy to find, not buried away. That said, I can find fault with nearly any vehicle's interior controls, so this is far from a dealbreaker.
Perhaps the best thing about the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is that it simply isn't ubiquitous, which is nice since SUVs from BMW and Mercedes can be found all over any well-to-do town. Though Jaguar (correctly) has a questionable reputation for quality, it's not likely that many buyers of this one will keep it for 150,000 miles, so they won't particularly care.
The SVR, short for Special Vehicle Rating, does what you would hope: start with a staid luxury SUV and injects it with excitement, oomph, a glorious exhaust note, and more than a small amount of hot hatchery.
Who could say no to that?