The Jaguar sleeps tonight – Road trip: Jaguar F-Pace SVR

The F-Pace is the first SUV of the British brand to receive the SVR treatment. Turning it into an animal on the road. I took Jaguar’s wildest cat for a rather dynamic road trip into the Karoo.

Being German, people sometimes accuse me of being a bit biased towards Teutonic automobile products. Well, true or not, I was recently literally blown away by an English car, the very impressive Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Having gone fully electric with the I-Pace to calm the world-wide Greta crowd, Jaguar didn’t forget their enthusiastic V8-loving motoring clients. A year later than originally planned, the most powerful F-Pace SUV ever was launched, having received the full SVR (special vehicle operations) treatment. Making it only the third car in the group, after the F-Type SVR and Range Rover SVR, to be blessed with this exciting performance upgrade.

Hout Bay Harbour pier

The heart of Jaguar’s wildest cat is the supercharged 5.0-l. V8 petrol powerplant, putting out 405kW and delivering 680Nm of torque, resulting in a top speed of 283km/h and an acceleration of 4.3 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. That’s not mere sporty, that’s supercar territory. And would usually come with severe limitations to comfort and luxury. Apparently not here.
The best way to find out is a little road trip into the Karoo. Along the twisty R44, between Gordon’s and Betty’s Bay, the performance is already convincing. Feeling very close to the F-Type SVR, which is a thoroughbred sportscar. Throwing a two-ton plus car around bends like this, is a rather exhilarating affair. As soon as the other traffic participants are looking into the four exhaust end pipes of the Jag and there is no more traffic ahead, the wild cat turns pussy cat again. Pawsome. The F-Pace SVR is a refined, comfortable luxury SUV and a high-performance race car at the same time.
And you’ve got all the space inside for your road trip luggage, despite being so quick. Emitting a wild roar, it almost feels like an old-fashioned hot rod – with perfect brakes by the way, due to the larger discs. Even standing still on one of those bricked parking bays next to Clarence Drive, where I watch a couple of whales frolicking in False Bay, the SVR-SUV impresses. The 21inch wheels are standard, 22inches alloys are optional. Front and rear bumper are new and the car is 30% stiffer than the regular F-Pace. At robots the SVR looks proper mean and even a Cayenne driver next to it would look, listen and mumble: ‘Mmmmmh’.
My first overnight stay is as stylish as my ride. The Grootbos Forest lodge is an architectural glass, wood and steel dream, build into the fynbos, high above Walker Bay. The Grootbos bush dinners are legendary, but don’t overdo it, as their breakfasts are incredible as well. Between Gansbaai and Bredasdorp you’ll find some great open country roads with perfect tarmac and no speed traps in sight. You are getting my drift? Acceleration and road holding of the performance F-Pace are once again impressive.


But as soon as the road surface changes to gravel it’s another story. It’s where performance SUVs with 22inch wheels shouldn’t be. In order to reach my next overnight destination, Gondwana Game Reserve, I have to cover some dirt. I am taking it so easy, that even beaten-up diesel bakkies are overtaking me. Embarrassing. Once inside the reserve I swop my comfortable leather fauteuils with the canvas covered benches of a game drive vehicle. The Jaguar sleeps tonight. After all, can you imagine the lion’s maned face spotting a foreign cat in his backyard?
The next day it’s tarmac again, in the shape of twisty Robinson Pass, connecting the Garden Route with the Klein-Karoo. With less potent SUVs I would have chosen my favourite mountain road, Swartberg Pass, to reach Prince Albert. But for the F-Pace SVR the sweeping curves of Meiringspoort are the much more appropriate choice.
Prince Albert is named after Queen Victoria’s hubby, so my Jaguar sucks in some English heritage. Which culminates the following day in the tiny hamlet of Matjiesfontein. A chunk of Britishness in the middle of nowhere. Including the spooky Lord Milner hotel, a typical pub and a vintage London double decker bus. The Jaguar has an absolute heritage blast here. You almost expect Mr Bean in a Black Adder outfit stepping out of one of the historic buildings in Main Street. I am sure comedian and car nut Rowan Atkinson would not only appreciate the quirkiness of this location, but also this excellent British automobile parking next to the red London bus.


GQ recommends:
Grootbos Forest Lodge – Walker Bay
A world-class lodge, surrounded by an abundance of Fynbos beauty, with the Walker Bay on the horizon. The stunning architecture of the Forest Lodge is complimented by an excellent cuisine and immaculate service.

Gondwana Game Reserve – Garden Route
A malaria-free Big Five game reserve in a Fynbos biotope, close to the Garden Route and Mossel Bay. Great morning and afternoon drives with knowledgeable rangers. The pool is a dream on a hot day, especially with elephants around.

Bergkant Lodge – Prince Albert
The best place to stay in PA is the historic Bergkant Lodge from the mid-1800s, with two magnificent pools. Stay in the old part, in five tastefully furnished rooms with antiques, or in the new contemporary addition in one of the four suites.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Engine 5.0-l. V8 supercharged petrol, paired with an 8-speed auto box
Power 405kW and 680Nm
Top Speed 283 km/h
0-100km/h 4.3 seconds
Price from R1.7m

What else?
The Porsche Cayenne Coupé would be a competitor, as well as BMW’s X4M, Mercedes AMG GLC 63 S and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. If money isn’t an issue there is also the Bentlay Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus.

Gondwana Game Reserve


18 January 2020