Payne: Jaguar F-Pace SVR out-growls the Jaguar EV

Posted by Talbot Payne on July 26, 2019

The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV bears familiar brand touches like angled headlights and open grille.

The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV bears familiar brand touches like angled headlights and open grille.  (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

Conventional wisdom these days is that the next generation wants electric cars. Someone forgot to tell my neighbors.

When I arrived at their house with the 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR, the supercharged V-8 shook the foundation like a California earthquake. Kids poured out the front door, practically dragging their father behind them.

The Jag super-ute is the latest twisted performance SUV to hit the market along with other five-door track monsters like the Porsche Macan Turbo S and Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The SVR is the most powerful missile this side of the insane, 707-horse Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. The Jaguar’s 550 horsepower feed all four wheels for quick dashes to the, um, grocery store.

You know, a family car.

The kids piled three abreast into the F-Pace’s spacious back seat. Their dad turned the key and the Jaguar exploded to life like a hungry zoo animal that had just been thrown a sirloin steak. GROOOOWWWRRRR!

Cheers from the rugrat gallery!

Dad rolled down the street, the big cat gurgling with menace.

When we hit Telegraph Road, father floored it and all hell broke loose. The SVR leapt forward on all four paws, the 5.0-liter V-8 howled in our ears while the eight-speed transmission snapped off millisecond-quick shifts. As the speedo rushed toward triple digits, my neighbor backed off the throttle and the quad tailpipes let out a Snap! Crackle! Pop! like firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

Bedlam in the backseat!

At the helm, their father let out a demented, Tim Allen-like cackle, too.

Nothing growls like a Jaguar.

Which begs the question, why would anyone want an electric Jag? Don’t get me wrong, the I-Pace is a marvelous piece of work. A low-slung crossover, it’s nicely proportioned with big wheels, and a distinctive hatchback profile. Inside, it shares the same switchgear with its Jaguar brethren: digital instrument display, touchscreen, big dials.

Punch the accelerator pedal, and the electric cat pounces with instant torque. Silent. Stealthy.

“Just like a Tesla!” the neighbors said when I brought it by a few months back.

But if your ship has finally come in and you have $80,000 in the bank, do you want a Jaguar that sounds like a Tesla — or a Jaguar that growls like a Jaguar?

Conventional wisdom these days holds that, as more electric SUVs from Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, etc., flood the market, Tesla sales will fade. I have my doubts. As do customers apparently.

Despite rave media reviews and a trophy case full of Best Car of Year honors, the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace electric car sells just over 200 cars a month.

Brand matters and Tesla has established itself as a pioneering EV brand. Jaguar’s brand is also very strong but for other reasons. For decades the nouveau riche have gravitated to Jaguar for its slinky designs, racing success and … growl.

There’s also the fact that the F-Pace SVR is not just emotionally more satisfying to the I-Pace (my neighbors are still grinning from their ride), but is superior in most other ways including cargo room, head room, and — crucially — range.

Open up the F-Pace SVR on I-75 and you’ll drink gas so fast I swear I saw the gas gauge needle moving. But there are filling stations everywhere on your way to the glorious beaches of northern Michigan.

Lead-foot the I-Pace and you won’t get to your destination easily.

Unlike Tesla and its exclusive network of Level 3, 150-kilowatt DC superchargers, the Jaguar is dependent on independent charging networks like Electrify America. And EA has no superchargers north of Lansing (and none on the I-75 corridor). Even where 240-volt Level 2 chargers exist, I have found service to be spotty.

On a recent trip to Charlevoix in a Tesla Model 3, I juiced up in Gaylord with plans to top up Charlevoix’s Level 2 charger during my week stay there. Alas, that  charger was out of order, limiting my range around town.

Such limitations could throw a wet blanket on the family vacation.

The gas-powered F-Pace, on the other hand, will not only get you to the far corners of Lake Michigan — it’ll do so with gusto.

Nothing sours the next generation on electric cars like limiting their vacation options. And from my own experience, nothing makes my wife more nervous than the idea that an electric car will strand us on a Lake Michigan peninsula.

The F-Pace also comes with more affordable options than the electric I-Pace.

Halo cars like the F-Pace SVR are designed in part to bring folks into the dealership to whet their appetite. But if my $89,900 side of beef tester is too much for the bank account, customers can choose more affordable fare like the base, $44,900 F-Pace turbo-4 or the $60,000 turbo-6.

As a result, Americans are gobbling up about 1,200 F-Paces a month. If the electric I-Pace is your cup of tea, then it’s a pricey cup of tea. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive to make and the EV SUV starts at $70,000.

For most families, the $45,000 F-Pace’s handsome Jaguar grille and interior will do just fine, thank you very much. Like the TV ads with tennis star Kei Nishikori tooling around in an F-Pace shadowed by his alter-ego self in the original SVR, the F-Type two-door sports car, they will be content with the Jaguar image.

For the truly deranged (like yours truly) there is the 550-horse F-Pace SVR. So on your way to dropping the kids off at soccer practice you can head over to Woodward and prowl the stoplights for unsuspecting V-8-powered Dodge Challenger R/Ts.

Set launch control by depressing the brake pedal with your left foot. Then bury the accelerator pedal. Then release the brake.

WORRRAAAUAAGGH! Goes the V-8.

AWESOOOOOME! go the kids.

Sit back and watch the Challenger disappear in your mirrors as you hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. The Challenger will arrive after 5.1. I should note here that the I-Pace EV will clock the same zero-60 time as cousin F-Pace. But it’ll use up a lot more range in doing so, and without a convenient charging station nearby.

And without that Jaguar growl.

2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Vehicle type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive, five-passenger SUV

Price: Base price $81,015, including $1,025 destination charge ($89,900 as tested)

Powerplant: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8

Power: 550 horsepower, 502 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.3 sec. (Car and Driver); top speed: 176 mph

Weight: 4,395 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA: 16 city/22 highway/18 combined; range: 489 miles

Report card

Highs: V-8 thrills for the family; long range

Lows: Pricey; infotainment system can be slow

Overall: 4 stars

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

Vehicle type: Electric, four-passenger luxury SUV

Price: $70,495 base including $995 destination fee ($86,895 First Edition as tested)

Powerplant: 90-kWh lithium-ion battery with twin electric-motor drive

Power: 394 horsepower, 512 pound-feet torque

Transmission: Automatic, single-speed

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds (mfr.); top speed: 124 mph

Weight: 4,784 pounds

Fuel economy: 240-mile range (189 miles on battery to cover 140 miles, observed)

Report card

Highs: Handsome looks; electric torque

Lows: Slow infotainment screen; lack of charging infrastructure

Overall: 3 stars

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