For all of its looks, sheer size and impressive presence, nothing about the F-Pace creates more attention than the boomer under the bonnet. That’s no lie, the F-Pace’s engine is older than the iPhone by a decade – hell it’s older than the iPod. But it’s a brilliant thing. Five litres of supercharged V8 goodness sit in wait of whatever you can summon from it. Sure the engine has been worked on since 1997, it’s definitely not the beast that powered an XK all those years ago (or, weirdly, the early-2000s Ford Thunderbird), but it’s got an old-fashioned nature to it.
Power sits at a square 550PS (405kW) while torque is 700Nm (516lb ft), a number that once seemed insane, but has become more and more common in these SUV and EV-driven days. They are truly modern numbers, but what is out of step with 2022 is that the peak torque doesn’t arrive until 3,500rpm. And that’s not just a dyno figure, you can feel it when you summon everything from the F-Pace SVR. If you’re not in the right gear there will be a pause, some reflection, and then a wump of torque. It’s more of a wump too, not an absolute smash. This is torque that builds through the rev range, pinning you with more vigour as you rush forwards. It’s not delicate, but it feels rewarding as it builds rather than surprising.
The gearbox is a standard eight-speed ZF unit found pretty much everywhere today. It works well, albeit in an almost unnoticeable way. If you’re summoning everything each upshift will be greeted with more torque as the engine sits back into its peak delightfully. Handling is light, with the steering providing a minimal amount of resistance at all times, but without lacking communication. The traction is good on a dry road, inducing some torque-steer as the fronts try to help haul all 2,070kg forward from a standstill, but without too much lateral drama. In the corners it’s more of a wrestle, the suspension is excellent, calming most road chatter without leaving an absolute trifle to deal with when it gets twisty. However there’s still both mass and power to deal with. Especially on a wet road at least one of the wheels will want to escape control at most points. Turn in bite is good, but trailed throttle can bring understeer, pick it up too fast and the back will head off on its own. The brakes are fine, which with two tonnes of mass at times is less than you would wish for.
The thing is it’s not scary, it’s the kind of wrestle you have with a big dog, just a creature that wants to have fun getting a bit distracted. You can bring everything into line with ease because it’s an inherently good chassis. Find a dry road and be prepared to hustle and you’ll be rewarded. You just have to do the work.