These days, the main topic of discussion when talking about Jaguar is the F-Pace. The brand has its sights set firmly on the 4x4 market and why not? Its logo itself is a leaping Jaguar, which lives in the wild — so it seems appropriate that the storied British carmaker wishes to conquer the wilderness. However, despite all the hype about creating an SUV range, it’s heartening to see that Coventry hasn’t forgotten the segment that has made the brand what it is — sportscars. With the F-Type, Jaguar had made a resounding comeback into that segment, and now, with the SVR variant fettled by the Special Vehicle Operations team, it’s taken things to a whole new level.
...Its initial horsepower of 542 was raised to 567 at 6,500rpm. It’s essentially the same heart but with a different beat.
The F-Type remains faithful to Jaguar’s legacy and its design ties it in with the rest of the family; taking cues from the iconic E–Type as well as the previous generations of the XJ, XK, XJS and the XJ220. But the F–Type is not only the most memorable and magical of its kind, it’s also the most loyal to the company’s history. Although it has a low and aggressive stance, this is naturally embedded in our minds when we think of a Jaguar sportscar. However, with the SVR that isn’t all we get. It gets bags of additional performance, too. But I feel the designers sacrificed the F-Type’s classy front-end design, which was characterised by elegant vents that resembled shark gills, in favour of two huge side vents that do not sit well with the vehicle. The same applies to the profile where behind the front wheel lies a vent that impedes the flow of the vehicle’s elegant lines. The worst styling element, however, is around the back where a massive wing has been installed. It ruins the most beautiful aspect of the F–Type; the rear, which in the regular car looks artistically carved and polished. I had hoped that Jaguar would have maintained the concealed rear wing, which automatically deploys when driving at high speeds. While looking into the SVR’s rear-view mirror, I missed Jaguars’ chrome logo reflecting in the sun. But then these aero addenda are there for a reason, and that’s what makes the SVR special.
Moving on to the interior, the SVR, which sits on a wheelbase of 2,622mm, is a comfortable enough environment and Jaguar has reinforced the levels of safety; the sports seats hold you firm while manoeuvring corners and driving fast on the road and track. The cabin also boasts high-quality finishing; the fake carbon fibre in the F–Type R has been replaced with the real deal. In addition, the leather trim covering the dashboard and other parts of the cabin is much more luxurious now. What’s more, the Alcantara trim resembles crystals (it has red strings embedded in it) giving the vehicle a fine touch. Moreover, the information and entertainment systems have been upgraded to make them more practical with an 8.0in touchscreen, and it gets a sophisticated music set-up with a broadcast capacity of 770 Watts.
The most natural thing to do is to tag it as as a rival to the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Audi R8 but I don’t see it that way.
Moving on to the most important bits, the SVR’s bonnet houses the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from the R, but massaged by SVO to raise the output from 542bhp to 567bhp at 6,500rpm. It’s essentially the same heart but with a different beat. It makes 700Nm of torque between 3,500 and 5,000rpm and the power is delivered to all four wheels through a smooth eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts. The transmission’s software has been tweaked and as a result, it is able to swap cogs far quicker. It consumes a claimed 11.3 litres per 100km, which for a car as potent as this is really not that bad. The most natural thing to do is to tag it as a rival to the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Audi R8 but I don’t see it that way — it has a front engine design, which is the opposite of the other two for starters.
Moreover, unlike the 911, the SVR doesn’t inspire confidence on mountain roads, despite Jaguar’s claims of this being an all-weather supercar. This partly attributable to the fact that the roads were wet after a rainy day. However, when caning the car on the Motorland Aragon circuit in bright, sunny conditions earlier in the day, I did not detect any slips in the tight corners. The SVR has revised anti-roll bars at each end (they are stiffer at the rear and softer at the front to improve turn-in response) and it rides on lightweight 20in forged wheels wrapped in very grippy Pirelli rubber, and all this came through on the track. But on the wet roads, I was not confident with the vehicle’s dynamic capacity and didn’t dare accelerate or get the best out of the engine.
Still, the ferocious roar it makes (the new titanium and Inconel exhaust system has been specially designed for the SVR) makes for an exhilarating driving experience, especially in Dynamic Driving mode. I was able to use this setting when lapping the circuit and its straight-line speed sure did impress — it can hit 0-100kph in 3.7 seconds. And while manoeuvring the many elevations and apexes of the circuit it provided plenty of grip. The electric power steering (it has revised mapping) responded very well around the corners and inspired confidence. But the car still felt heavy, even though it’s 25kg lighter than the AWD F-Type R. Surprisingly, it was possible to let the tail break free — but it needed an almighty poke of the throttle.
If you’re looking for an elegant sportscar with oodles of power and performance, the F-Type R is still your best bet. As mentioned earlier, all the aero bits have deprived the SVR of that elegance, however, if you’re after sheer, neck-snapping performance in a Jaguar, look no further than this — the fastest series production car ever to come out of Coventry.
Convertible SVR: slower but louder
In addition to the F–Type SVR tin top in which I spent most of my time, during the photo shoot at the Motorland Aragon circuit, I sat behind the wheel of the convertible SVR, too. And boy does it sound mean. With the cloth roof removed, the engine note reaches you directly from the titanium exhaust system. Here you can confirm the beauty of driving a vehicle that carries Jaguar’s logo and its genetic characteristics. However, it is not necessarily caused by its ability of achieving reputable numbers on racing tracks nor the ability to pass corners without losing traction. Rather it is the fact that it can draw a huge smile on your face, and this is exactly what doubled on board the convertible SVR. Even if it has lost a bit of its dynamic ability due to the convertible roof, which adds extra weight (top speed drops from 322kph to 314kph) that’s easily forgiven when its roaring and angry engine sound floods the cabin.