Weekend Herald

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Jaguar Land Rover’s venerable supercharg­ed V8 engine is the real star of the SV range

- Andrew SLUYS

Jaguar is a brand that most associate with large, classy sedans. In the age of the SUV, it has had to move with the times, and now offers just as many SUVs as it does “traditiona­l” cars in New Zealand. Before you nod off as we start talking about familyfrie­ndly SUVs, there are a couple of letters that Jaguar is very proud of, and should have no trouble grabbing your attention: SV.

If you aren’t familiar with the work of Jaguar’s Special Vehicles Operation (SVO), you should be. It builds some of the fiercest V8-powered cars currently on the market, and it means business. While no single vehicle is SVO’s pride and joy, every new vehicle adorned with the prestigiou­s badge gets the same 5.0-litre supercharg­ed V8, which has more than enough power, and makes all the right noises.

Under the SVO brand falls three categories, with each being the most extreme of its type. SVA or SVAutobiog­raphy accounts for the most luxurious Range Rover models. There’s SVX, for the most hardcore off-road Land Rovers. Finally, the star of the show, the SVR range, which is built for allout performanc­e.

SVO vehicles account for a significan­t portion of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) sales in New Zealand. JLR boss Steve Kenchingto­n speaks of the incredible demand for Land Rovers in NZ, not to

mention more than 200,000 Defenders pre-sold internatio­nally.

To celebrate this local love for everything SV, JLR recently held a drive day at Hampton Downs, focusing on the SVO range – but with plenty of other JLR products to showcase.

JLR had all the bases covered, from track cars to SUVs. There were a few we couldn’t drive: Simon Evans’ championsh­ipwinning I-Pace, the ultra-cool Land Rover Defender Works V8 70th Edition and a multimilli­on-dollar Jaguar XKSS Continuati­on (also an SVO creation) were on display.

As for the cars on offer to drive: the highlights were the new twodoor Defender 90, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, and the ultra-rare XE Project 8.

As well as celebratin­g everything SVO, the point of this day is to get customers, prospectiv­e customers, and special JLR guests into these vehicles in a supervised track environmen­t, where they can push the limits without getting into trouble.

As a Jaguar ambassador, local legend Greg Murphy was one of the instructor­s. Another was Simon Evans, winner of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy championsh­ip in Europe.

There was the standard ABS test in an incredible sounding F-Type R P575, and a slalom challenge in an F-Pace P400.

We also managed to get offroad in the new two-door Land Rover Defender 90 and the Discovery. Here, both off-road

SUVs excelled in the rough and uneven terrain, and expertly demonstrat­ed the hefty 900mm wading capability.

We had a play with Jaguar’s “Smart Cone” challenge in an E-Pace, where a driver has to change direction according to lights on cones, making it just as much of a reaction test as a driving challenge. I managed to walk away with the win here, the only one to achieve 100 per cent accuracy, not only beating editor Dean, but more importantl­y Sam Wallace.

Then we were on to the main attraction — track laps around the Hampton Downs National Circuit. An assortment of JLR’s best was on offer to drive, including the Range Rover Sport SVR, the allelectri­c Jaguar I-Pace, the F-Pace SVR, and the XE SV Project 8.

If you aren’t familiar with that last one, here’s a crash course: it’s based on an XE sedan, but features a supercharg­ed 5.0-litre V8 that has been tuned to 441kW. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmissi­on, and it’ll hit 100km/h in 3.7 seconds before topping out at 321km/h. It still holds the record for the fastest production sedan around Nurburgrin­g, and Jaguar only built 300 of them, all in lefthand drive.

In terms of track performanc­e, these supercharg­ed V8s are addictive no matter what the applicatio­n. Obviously, the Project 8 felt the most at home on the track with the signature blower whine and carbon ceramic brakes holding everything together, but the Range Rover Sport was no slouch either. The perfect “Goldilocks” zone was found in the F-Pace SVR, which devoured corners like a low-slung sedan, not the family-friendly SUV its appearance suggests.

Known for his success in V8-powered race cars, Greg Murphy could only sing the F-Pace’s praises in-between directing drivers towards braking zones from the passenger seat.

As a whole, it’s clear that JLR is still keeping the enthusiast candle burning with the hardcore SVO range. From the mighty F-Pace SVR, and the extremely limited Project 8, this current performanc­e range feels like a fitting tribute to high-performanc­e vehicles of yesteryear.

But while it seems like Jaguar’s supercharg­ed V8 is living on borrowed time, we’re happy to welcome models like the allelectri­c I-Pace as the nextgenera­tion of performanc­e vehicles.

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 ??  ?? From top: Jaguar Project 8; Greg Murphy instructin­g; Land Rover Defender 90; Jaguar SVO drive day line-up
From top: Jaguar Project 8; Greg Murphy instructin­g; Land Rover Defender 90; Jaguar SVO drive day line-up
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 ??  ?? From top: DRIVEN’s Andrew Sluys, “Smart Cone” challenge winner; F-Type SVR; Jaguar XKSS Continuati­on.
From top: DRIVEN’s Andrew Sluys, “Smart Cone” challenge winner; F-Type SVR; Jaguar XKSS Continuati­on.
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 ??  ?? Simon Evans’ 2021 Jaguar e-Trophy championsh­ip-winning I-Pace; opposite, F-Pace SVR.
Simon Evans’ 2021 Jaguar e-Trophy championsh­ip-winning I-Pace; opposite, F-Pace SVR.

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