How Jaguar Made a Faster F-Pace

Duncan Smith, the lead engineer for the F-Pace SVR, broke down everything you need to know about this 550-hp SUV.

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To turn up the volume on its F-Pace SUV, Jaguar turned to an old friend—its 5.0-liter, 550-hp supercharged V8. But don't think that Jaguar's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) just shoehorned a big V8 into an F-Pace to create the SVR. At the New York Auto Show, Duncan Smith, the lead engineer of the F-Pace SVR, explained everything that went into making this car.

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Fitting a V8 in the F-Pace was harder than we imagined. The 3.0-liter V6 that's already offered in the F-Pace is basically a V8 with its two rearmost cylinders blocked off, different heads and a shorter crankshaft. Presumably, then, fitting the V8 would be easy, but Smith says that wasn't the case.

He tells us that the secondary bulkhead had to be moved, as did the engine harness, and piping for the brakes and air-conditioning. There's extra cooling hardware at the front to help manage the heat of the V8, which required larger intakes. Smith also tells us that all the drivetrain components, like the driveshafts, have been up-rated as well to handle the V8's 502 lb-ft of torque.

"The 44-percent increase in power is quite significant, since a lot of our products already have a V8," Smith said. "Putting a V8 in is quite a step change."

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It'd be irresponsible to increase power by this much and not fit bigger brakes, so Jaguar has done so with the F-Pace SVR. It uses two-piece rotors which measure 15.5 inches in the front, and 15.6 inches in the rear. Considering you almost never see larger discs at the rear than the front, I asked Smith about this.

"The disc is bigger, but the swept area of the pad is larger on the front," Smith explained. "There's a four-pot caliper on the front and a smaller support on the rear, so there's still far more braking on the front than the rear, like most cars.

"It suits us to have those discs very similar size, and also from the aesthetic, it looks more balanced. Some cars, have a great big disc at the front, a tiny thing at the rear, and it kind of looks a bit odd."

Ultimately, he says using rotors of a similar size offers the best braking performance. But it's still interesting to note how much looks matter with Jaguar, even when building high-performance cars.

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Sticking a big V8 into the F-Pace also increased weight—Smith says the SVR weighs almost 4400 lbs, 300 lbs more than Jaguar's quoted figures for the V6 F-Pace S. To counteract the weight gain, Smith and his team worked hard to reduce unsprung mass, where small reductions produce big results. The brakes use clever mounting hardware to achieve this, and both sets of wheels available for the SVR, 21- and 22-inch, are forged.

"Although the V8 weighs more and the peripherals that go with the engine weigh more, the reduction in unsprung mass helps the ride and handling," Smith said.

New springs, dampers and anti-roll bars all contribute to a 5-percent reduction in roll, which Smith says is more significant than it sounds. It's all in service of creating a better ride/handling balance, something Jaguar's quite good at.

"You actually need some compliance," Smith said. "If you get the car too stiff, on a bumpy road in the real world, the tires lose with the road, then you're not handling as well, you're not putting performance down.

"It's a balance to get the right compliance."

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On the rear axle, a new fully variable electronic locking differential helps put the power down too, working alongside a brake-based torque vectoring system. The SVR also gets staggered tires to deal with the power—Pirelli P Zeroes measuring 295 in the rear and 265 on the front.

The F-Pace's electronic systems—steering, transmission, torque vectoring, and ABS—have all been reprogrammed for duty in the SVR. The variable all-wheel drive system is carried over from lesser models, but the hardware's been beefed up to handle the torque, and its programming is unique too.

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One of the main areas SVO focused was aerodynamics, and the F-Pace SVR gets all sorts of aero components to smooth the airflow around the car. The vents on the hood and on the front wheel arches reduce pressure, combating front-end lift which helps keeps the tires on the ground. Also smoothing the air around the wheels are fins cut into the sills, and a cutout at the back of the rear-wheel arch.

We were disappointed when we saw the "shark fins" on the rear bumpers were filled in by a reflector, but Smith says they're still functional. Initially, these were vents to reduce pressure in the rear-wheel arch, but the team found that they provided more aerodynamic benefits if they were blocked off. So, don't accuse Jaguar of using a fake vent here.

Creating the F-Pace SVR required a lot of engineering work, but Smith says it's all worth it to create a complete package. He sets expectations high for the SUV.

"It's genuinely an engaging, enjoyable, nimble, sharp-handling vehicle," Smith says. "Even though it's an SUV, it really is class-leading, and you could put it up against sport sedans."

A bold claim, but the F-Pace SVR seems to have all the engineering work to back it up.

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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
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