ST. TROPEZ, France — Summarizing a new car in just two words is a wicked challenge, but here goes: Magnificent beast. That's the nickname Jaguar's engineering team gave the 2019 F-Pace SVR, and ... spoiler alert ... it's actually a damn fine descriptor for the 550-horsepower sport ute. The hot-rod SUV genre has been endlessly expanding, pioneered by the likes of the Porsche Cayenne. Recent contenders like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 keep the competition on its toes by busting Nürburgring Nordschleife lap records that shamed supercars from just a few years ago. The Jaguar F-Pace SVR arrives a tad late to the high-speed party. Previously available with as much as 380 horsepower from a supercharged V6, the new SVR plays ball packing a 5.0-liter V8 beneath its vented hood. The supercharged mill punches 550 hp and 502 lb-ft through an eight-speed ZF automatic. Power is routed to all four wheels, naturally, but the SVR is also the first F-Pace to get torque vectoring thanks to an electronically controlled rear differential. Also aiding the F-Pace through the corners are stiffer springs, reprogrammed adaptive Bilstein dampers, 12-inch forged aluminum wheels and a brake-based torque vectoring system. Additional go-fast goodies include lift-reducing aero, better engine ventilation, and larger four-piston front and two-piston rear ventilated brakes housed in larger 21-inch wheels. The F-Pace SVR's cabin offers more sporty austerity than before. Slimmer, supportive 10-way adjustable seats echo the SUV's more focused road manners, as do aggressive color schemes, contrast stitching, and a suede headliner. Small touches also signal the sharper edges, including an F-Type-derived shifter in place of the mediocre rotary gear selector. It doesn't inherit Jaguar's latest dual-screen infotainment system, updated steering wheel, or second-gen heads up display, as does the recently updated XE sedan. The F-Pace SVR shares a similar tune to the 575-hp F-Type SVR, but the SUV's V8 fires up with a milder bark. A new exhaust valve adjusts its butterfly valves gradually, avoiding the "light switch" transition from quiet to loud. And speaking of loud, while the blarty exhaust note isn't as in-your-face as some of Jaguar's more vocal models, U.S. versions might be slightly raspier since the European model I was driving was equipped with a gasoline particulate filter that has a slight muffling effect. The sound is also louder outside, especially when the exhaust is in sport mode. But according to Jaguar SVO boss Jameel Hameedi, the exterior volume levels are "right at the [U.S. drive-by sound] limits" at wide-open throttle. Not bad for a vehicle with four seats and 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space (or 63.5 with the seats folded down). The SVR cruises around town with responsive restraint. In Comfort mode, the drivetrain defaults to a power distribution of 30/70 front/rear, helping avoid wheelspin in case you can't resist the occasional hard launch at a green light. Drive mode settings alter throttle mapping, shift strategy, steering effort and the adaptive damping system, which monitors body and wheel movements 100 …
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|MPG||26 City / 33 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||180 @ 4000 rpm|
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