‘Filthy’ is, I think, my favourite word to use when describing an exhaust note. It’s a term best reserved for V8s, and there’s one eight-pot which probably deserves its exclusive use - Jaguar’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
The guttural bark that explodes out of the tailpipes of any Jag fitted with this wondrous collection of cylinders is about as dirty as they come. Thankfully, even with the more restrictive EU noise regulations that have come into force, the s/charged V8 powering Jaguar’s F-Pace SVR still provides the filth.
It’s not quite as obscene as previous applications, but it remains one of the best noises in the car world. The note being fired out the quad tailpipes is a little less silly than before, too - the excessive pops and bangs have been massively reduced, but they still crop up frequently yet in a seemingly more natural way.
In general, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a real bruiser. A muscle car, if you will. It’s a muscle car that can corner, too. Clearly confident about the way it goes around bends, Jag decided to string together a route on the best mountain roads in the South of France for the world’s motoring press to test the car. If it’s not up to scratch, it’d be painfully obvious in this environment.
The earliest prototype for the car was merely an F-Pace S with a 5.0-litre engine crammed into the engine bay, but thankfully, the SVR has come a long way since then. It has new Bilstein dampers, beefier bump stops, stiffer springs, significantly stiffer bushings all around and thicker anti-roll bars. Meanwhile, the software for the electronic centre differential, the electric power steering and the stability control system have all been extensively tweaked.
It tips the scales at a hefty 2070kg, and inevitably, it can’t mask that weight figure entirely, nor its lofty ride height. But it seems to love being chucked around, lapping up the challenge of cornering at speeds that should result in you tumbling down the side of the mountain.
The SVR turns in confidently with a flick of the perfectly-weighted steering, leans reasonably but not excessively, and effectively puts its power down on the way out with a wave of shouty V8 noise. It’s a mostly neutral-feeling car, only occasionally giving the sense of something happening at the rear. Due to the weight and the height of the thing, it is quite easy to push into understeer mid-corner, bespoke P-Zeroes crying out in pain as a result.
Probably the best part of it all is the damping - some quicker SUVs start to feel uncomfortable and almost sketchy on more undulating bits of road, but the F-Pace SVR seems to shrug off whatever is thrown at it. The setup isn’t too stiff, either - Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations people insist they wanted to make it a comfortable, useable car that can turn into a B-road weapon should you be in the mood.
It’s not as tied down and surefooted as something like a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, but that’s half the fun of it. The slightly cheaper Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is sharper, meanwhile (thanks in large part to it being 250kg lighter) and happier to let its rear end shake around. But is it as much of an event to drive? I don’t think so - there’s such fanfare to the way the F-Pace SVR covers ground, that every time behind the wheel feels like a celebration of internally-combusted awesomeness.
It’s a salute to an engine that won’t be around for that much longer - the contract JLR has with Ford’s Bridgend plant where its V6s and V8s are built ends next year. Here’s hoping they have a healthy supply of them stockpiled in a warehouse somewhere.
The main letdown is, as is the case with the standard F-Pace, the interior. SVO has done what it can, fitting some lovely quilted leather and some superb bucket seats also seen in the XE SV Project 8, but the additions are let down by the uninspiring, button-festooned dashboard.
The gearbox also deserves a dishonourable mentioned. The software has been fiddled with, and it’s had the weird cylinder gear selector thing replaced with a pistol-grip shifter that’s quite fun to use, but it’s never quite as on the ball as you’d like when left to its own devices. You’re better off taking control yourself.
There is a general lack of polish with the F-Pace SVR, but it only takes a few minutes behind the wheel to decide that you’re OK with that, because the charisma level is sky high. You know how you sometimes watch a film, and it’s clear the cast had a blast making it? It’s like that with this car. It’s so clearly not a by-the-numbers job - it was a labour of love from SVO. A labour of love with one of the best soundtracks in the business.