2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR first drive: Really good, but is it smart money?

Special Vehicle Operations’ SVR models invariably start with a performance-tuned take on JLR’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8, and so it is with the F-Pace. Here the engine generates 550 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, complete with Jaguar’s booming Variable Valve Active Exhaust System, which happens to be lighter than the standard F-Pace exhaust by 14.5 pounds. We’ve seen more peak horsepower from Jaguar’s 5.0 in other applications, including the 592-hp XE SV, but the 550 in the F-Pace SVR is 170 hp or 44 percent more than the previous range-topping F-Pace S V6, and it’s competitive with hot-rod SUVs from BMW M, Mercedes-AMG, etc. There’s no dull, plastic fairing hiding the SVR’s V8, either. Instead it has a racy-looking aluminum casting covering the V and supercharger.The F-Pace SVR gets what the Brits call “bespoke calibration’’ for its eight-speed ZF automatic. That means the transmission is retuned for quicker manual or automatic shifts, and it allows the driver to adjust both shift pressure and shift schedule. The all-wheel drive’s wet-clutch transfer case defaults to 100 percent rear-drive, but it can send up to 50 percent of the engine torque to the front wheels in about 100 milliseconds if the electronic brains deem it necessary. The SVR also gets a torque-vectoring rear differential to power it through bends with more speed and stability.