The 2019 Jaguar F-PACE SVR arrived at our test center wearing a fabulous "Firenze Red" paint job.
The F-PACE was Jaguar's first-ever SUV, and it was absolutely gorgeous. A runner-up for Business Insider's 2017 Car of the Year award, the F-PACE was up there with designer Ian Callum's finest work.
I also sampled the F-PACE 30t — a cheaper version of the original, with a smaller engine.
The Jaguar F-Pace SVR comes from Jag's Special Vehicle Operations squad, a merry band of engineers that grants leaping cats additional feline powers.
The loveliness of the F-PACE is its greatest calling card. It's HARD to make an SUV look good. Jaguar designer (now retired) Ian Callum proved that an SUV could look spectacular.
As with all SUVs, the front is better than the back. In the F-PACE SVR's case, the trick was to capture that inimitable Jaggy sleekness while still managing SUV-esque road presence.
The adaptive LED headlights are suitably catlike in their angularity.
My tester had 22-inch split-spoke wheels ($1,530) and some hefty brake calipers in red.
The hood scoops are a rare aesthetic misstep. They ought to vent the supercharger, but they aren't all that large or dramatic (neither is the blower under the hood), and the plastic looks sorta cheap.
SUV rears, given that they are effectively large doors, tend to be a design challenge. The F-PACE SVR handles the challenge about as well as is possible.
Like Ferraris, Jags have to be beautiful, in order to earn the leaping cat badge.
It ain't perfect. But Callum did bring some dynamic balance to the back end, creating an SUV that expresses coiled power through its ample rear haunches.
The quad exhaust pipes add ferocity to the rear-end.
The Jaguar F-PACE SVR has a 34-cubic-foot cargo hold that can increase to 64 when the rear seats are dropped. The vehicle swallowed up plenty of stuff, as I even managed to pack seven plants in on a trip to a gardening center.
The ebony interior is on the severe side of premium, but it's generally very nice.
The quilted, heated-and-cooled seats are well bolstered for spirited driving, but they're also comfortable for everyday motoring.
Legroom in back is decent.
And the panoramic moonroof solves the problem of the sloping roofline, which could contribute to a small, cavelike cabin vibe without the additional light.
Whew, that's a lotta buttons on the Jag's elegant, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Is there a leaning curve? Yes. But after a few days I was comfortable.
The analog-digital instrument cluster is crisp and bright and ...
... Eager to bring on Red Alert when Dynamic mode is engaged!
Power to the F-PACE SVR's all-wheel-drive system churns through a snappy shifting eight-speed automatic, with an auto-manual mode and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The drive mode selector sits below that fantastic square of carbon fiber.
The Touch Pro infotainment system runs on a 10-inch screen. We haven't been big fans of this setup in the past ...
... But in my testing, all the features worked well. Navigation was accurate, Bluetooth pairing was a snap, and USB connectivity was fine.
The 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound audio system made some glorious music. I've listened to better, but for $450, it's worth the upgrade.