The Atacama Desert in South America is the driest nonpolar desert in the world. Dry however is not a word that I would use to describe the Atacama Orange Jaguar F-FACE SVR that I recently had the pleasure to drive.
The mirage from this SUV was less a naturally-occurring optical phenomenon and more an aural phenomenon thanks to the supercharged 5-litre V8 petrol engine under the bonnet. Hit the start button and the engine growls to life before returning to a heavy pant of an animal ready to be set loose. Once on the road under hard acceleration in Dynamic drive mode you will be rewarded by the V8 bark on upshift and some pops from the exhaust on the overrun. With the exhaust volume being controlled using the switchable active exhaust sports exhaust button on the centre console or your right foot.
Torque from the 21MY V8 is up 20Nm, to 700Nm between 2,000-5,000rpm, meaning the 0-100km/h time is now down to just 4.0 seconds and the top speed has increased to 286km/h. You’ll want to chase the 6,500 red line because the maximum 405kW of power is available between 5,500-6,500rpm.
You can aggressively pull hard on the downshifts in the 8-speed automatic gearbox, using the wheel mounted satin chrome gearshift paddles, all the way the second gear and from there the computer decides when you can select first gear. Of course, playing with the V8 engine in this manner does impact on fuel use and for my week I used 17.7L/100km, six litres more than the official combined fuel figure of 11.7L/100km.
The athleticism of the F-PACE SVR continues on the interior with the Ebony suedecloth and Light Oyster Windsor leather performance seats and Ebony/Light Oyster trim; all of which feel and smell delightful. I absolutely love the look of the performance seats, the ebony suedecloth roof lining and the suedecloth on the door trims. But I couldn’t quite understand why the suedecloth was only on the dash in front of the driver, as I think it would look much better if it completely covered the dash. The light oyster coloured leather is also not for me because I couldn’t help thinking what state it would be in after children had been occupying it for some time. On this SUV there were already dirty marks on the side of the centre console around the seat belt on the driver’s side after only 2,000km of use.
Both front seats are heated and cooled with 14-way power adjustment incorporating front and rear seat cushion height adjustment and 4-way lumbar support. Once you have found your ideal seating position you can save it on one of the three seat memory buttons. The heated seats work very well and the cooling is adequate, with the temperature adjusted by either pushing on the climate control rotary knobs or on the central touchscreen.
Another interior feature I appreciated was the stubby gear shifter surrounded by the brushed metal centre console and matt black roller cover. I also liked that the knob used to change the drive mode went up and down, so it could be flush with the surface once your have selected Dynamic mode, my standard pick in any SVR. The other three modes available are Eco, Comfort and the F-PACE I drove was fitted with the optional ($310) Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR).
The 21MY F-PACE has an elegant looking 11.4” central touchscreen with Pivi Pro (connected), Jaguar’s improved infotainment operating system. It also now comes with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and for me the Android Auto connected without a problem. The SVR has a 400W Meridian sound system with 13 speakers, including a subwoofer and active noise cancellation enabling you to enjoy your music from one of the media sources available; AM/FM radio, DAB, iPod integration and Bluetooth streaming.
Below the main touchscreen are the controls for the climate that look very nice, but like the main screen they do get bad finger marks on them. I also thought the rotary climate controllers felt a bit flimsy and they take some getting used to whether you need to push or pull to control the air speed and seat temperature.
The steering wheel is gorgeous and matches the sporty interior with the metal gear selectors, leather trim and it’s also heated, something you will definitely love on a cold winter’s morning. I did find that the various steering wheel controls were not as receptive to my touch as they should have been and sometimes it would take more than one go at selecting the option I wanted to use. The voice control button does have a feminine looking silhouette, which is a nice change from the norm, with most car companies featuring a masculine looking silhouette. But I still found that the F-PACE voice control operation was not up to the standard of other high-end car manufacturers as it struggled with my inputs, particularly for entering a destination into the satellite navigation.
Storage options are abundant in the F-PACE along with ample charging points for your devices. Under the arm rest there is a felt lined cubby with one USB port, one USB-C port and a 12V outlet and at the front of the centre console there is a ledge large enough for modern-sized smartphones with wireless charging for compatible devices. Beneath the sliding centre console cover there is another 12V outlet and three different sized cup holders, including a small holder for your espresso cup, with a removable rubber mat to make it easy to clean up any spills. For larger drink bottles storage there are good sized cubbies in both the front and rear doors or you could use the cooled glovebox ($840 option). Below the centre console there is a ledge large enough for a small handbag or clutch, which is handy because the passenger seat foot well is cramped for space.
I like how the front performance seat design is replicated for the rear seats making them very comfortable for two adults to use with ample head and leg room available. The outer rear seats also come standard with heating and the centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest with two larger cup holders and one smaller holder in between them. If you have children there is enough room for two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seats.
There are two central rear air vents with manual speed and on/off control, but I found their temperature setting seemed to have a mind its own regardless of what I tried to do with the front climate controls. Below the vents there is one 12V outlet and here the back of the centre console protrudes quite a way into the rear foot well, making it awkward to step over the high transmission tunnel. Over time I can see this being kicked by children trying to step over it.
The F-PACE boot is quite large and you should be able to fit a pram and the weekly shop in it or if you need extra space the rear seats have a 40:20:40 split folding mechanism. The boot can be opened and closed using the key fob (only when vehicle is off), using the button under the boot lid or the button in the cabin. There are four tie down points, four hooks, two lights and one 12V outlet located in the boot and the SVR has the optional illuminated metal load space scuff plate ($590). Under the boot floor there is a very ugly orange temporary use spare tyre, so you won’t be keen to keep using it for a long time should you get a puncture in one of the optional ($1,690) 22” gloss black wheels that are fitted to this SVR.
All variants of the F-PACE model range have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2017) with an adult occupant protection rating of 35.5 out of 38 (93%) and a child occupant protection rating of 42.0 out of 49 (85%). They all come with an advanced driver assistance system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Collision Monitor, Rear Traffic Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition and Emergency Braking. For convenience you also get premium automatic LED headlights with signature daytime driving lights, auto high beam assist and variable rain sensing windscreen wipers.
Passive safety includes front airbags, with passenger seat occupant detector, front side airbags and full-length side window curtain airbag. While the 3D Surround Camera is one of the best I have seen with the option to select from different cameras to virtually ‘walk around’ the SUV. The camera is combined with front and rear sensors and if an object is detected even when you are not in reverse gear the camera display pops up on the infotainment system and you can see what is near you.
All new Jaguar vehicles sold now come with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty with 5 years roadside assistance. A 5 years/ 130,000km (whichever occurs first) service plan that covers standard service costs during this period and for the F-PACE SVR this can be purchased upfront for $3,750.
The F-PACE SVR is one of the all-time favourite vehicles that I have driven and I still believe it is the bargain of the Jaguar range, even though the starting price has crept up to $142,170 plus on-road costs. This particular SUV is finished in Atacama Orange SVO ultra metallic paint in gloss finish ($11,050 option) and all in with a few other various options, some which should come as standard if you ask me, the F-PACE SVR I drove was $164,200 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Jaguar retailer to experience the F-PACE SVR phenomenon for yourself.
|The glorious V8 engine||The rear climate temperature was erratic|
|The elegant interior design||Voice control not up to current standard for luxury cars|
|The 3-D reversing camera||Some of the optional extras should be standard|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.