This is the Jaguar F-Type SVR, the world’s most recent addition to the 200 mph club. The fastest production Jaguar ever promises to be everything but the average range-topping supercar. The perfect example of the cherry on the cake, a concept that perhaps has become too widely applicable in the automotive industry in recent years.
I sure cannot look that far into the future but something tells me that out of today’s saturated market many of these special edition vehicles fueled by hopes of glory won’t make – for lack of a better instrument of measurement – the 2050 issue of Classic and Sports Car Magazine. The Jaguar F-Type however, is one of those few cars that I would feel safe betting my money on. The F-Type had quite some expectations to live up to, after the long and relatively quiet period that followed the E-Type’s success story. Stepping into a legacy of such magnitude is everything but easy, yet the F-Type’s sales figures show that the car is well on its way to a success story of its own.
With that being said it is noteworthy that the JLR brand is doing exceptionally well in general. Sales are up 281% in Europe compared to the same period last year and overall worldwide sales of JLR vehicles during the first five months of this year exceeded a record-breaking 245,000 vehicles. While sales of the Jaguar XE and XF grow steadily, the new F-Pace steals the show being the fastest selling Jaguar ever.
While the introduction of several ‘special editions’ of the F-Type over the years haven’t gone by unnoticed, I think it is safe to say that the one we have all been waiting for the most is the mighty F-Type SVR. Granted not having had the opportunity to take the ‘regular’ F-Type for a spin yet, I skip the main course and cut right into the highly anticipated dessert that comes with an SVR badge.
This journey takes me to Spain, where chances of possible rainfall are reduced to a bare minimum. Upon entrance of the Finca Prats hotel lobby I am greeted by a ‘Firesand’ orange F-Type SVR, a nice rendez-vous after first making its acquaintance at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. After the usual formalities and an informative presentation I took a closer look at the F-Type SVR.
Fun fact: despite the display model being a right-hand drive, the handle that unlocks the bonnet is at the passenger’s side, and it is like that for any F-Type regardless of the steering wheel position. The way the hood opens up and reveals the F-Type’s power plant is a work of art on its own. Inside we find the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 in an even more powerful state, after having undergone further calibration and tweaking inside JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department. The engineers at SVO have managed to squeeze out an extra 25 hp and 20 Nm of torque compared to the F-Type R AWD.
This brings the F-Type SVR’s output to a massive 575 hp and 700 Nm of torque, which translates to a 0-100 sprint in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 322 km/h (200 mph). Weight saving measures and improved aerodynamics play a crucial role in establishing the SVR’s impressive performance figures. Just the new lightweight titanium and Inconel exhaust system already saves 16 kg, while it also significantly reduces back pressure and is able to withstand higher peak temperatures. A nice detail is the engraved SVR logo in the exhaust tips, of which there are four that are responsible for delivering the menacing V8 rumble that is one of the loudest you will find on the market today.
In order to deal with the power increase and make the car even faster, the widely praised ZF 8-speed quickshift transmission that is linked to the supercharged V8 is slightly modified too. It is said to be more direct and shift gears faster than before. In coherence with the torque-on-demand AWD maximum traction is assured when doing a full force acceleration from a standstill. AWD and therefore traction play a key role in the concept of the F-Type SVR, a car that is marketed with the phrase: ‘the 200 mph all-weather supercar’. Creating an even faster F-Type that remains tractable and usable on a day-to-day basis.
Equally important to its potential success as a daily driver is a well-adjusted chassis and suspension setup. Jaguar seems to have all that in order and the SVO team did some further adjustments here and there to ensure balance between dynamic capability and ride comfort. These modifications include a thicker anti-roll bar at the rear, thinner anti-roll bar at the front, and a completely new rear knuckle. The latter enables a 37% increase camber stiffness and a 41% increase in toe stiffness, which ultimately leads to more sense of control behind the wheel.
The configuration of the car’s chassis can easily be changed by the flick of a switch. The dynamic control menu let’s drivers choose between cold-weather, normal and dynamic driving modes. Dynamic mode naturally opens up the valves and stiffens the ride a fair bit. It also brings the active rear-wing to life, a rather handsome addition to the F-Type by which it is perhaps most recognizable as the ‘SVR’ version. Besides punching up the SVR’s appearance, it also remains the most functional component when it comes to reducing drag and improving aerodynamics.
Other aerodynamic improvements comprise of larger air intakes at the front, extra inlets on the bonnet and a modified rear diffusor. For weight saving purposes and more dramatic looks the rear spoiler, front splitter, mirror caps and parts of the rear diffusor can be optionally finished in carbon fiber. However, customers that want to reach the full potential when it comes to saving weight and the car’s handling, should consider ticking the carbon-ceramic braking system and the carbon fiber roof off the options list, saving an additional 25 kg altogether. It’s here where I expected the carbon-ceramic brakes to come standard, not so much because of the car’s price point but simply because I don’t see the point in buying a car in this category without the best possible braking system.
All things considered I think the Jaguar F-Type SVR makes a graceful display, the extra aerodynamic features surely make its stance more stylish. I can see how the F-Type in general has been able to rank in over a hundred awards, multiple of which are design awards. The design is Jaguar’s very own, self-opinionated, yet showing a slight resemblance to the legendary E-Type.
The SVR-specific customizations continue on the inside, where the two-seat cabin makes a sporty, luxurious and clean impression. No weight nor expenses were spared on the 14-way SVR performance seats, that boast both comfort and sufficient lateral support. The ‘Lozenge’ quilt pattern sure is a nice touch and contrasting stitching as well as SVR embroidery in the headrests personalize the interior even more.
The steering wheel is optionally finished with a mix of suede cloth and jet black leather, while the shifting paddles behind it have been slightly enlarged to make using them even more instinctive. The car’s dashboard and instrument panel are similarly wrapped in bespoke materials with accents of carbon fiber.
The mid-console looks clean as most functionality is integrated with the InControl infotainment system with 8-inch touch screen. I personally have no difficulties with touch screens as long as they’re responsive. Just as I experienced with the 2016 XF, I feel like the responsiveness of this particular infotainment system could be improved. When everything around me is perfect and worked out to the finest details, and I am behind the wheel of a car with such capabilities and matching price tag, I don’t want to deal with a 2-second delay in response when zooming in or out on the navigation map. Despite the system not being as speedy as I would expect, I must conclude that the general interface and functionality are very user-friendly.
The first kilometers of our drive from the hotel to the Motorland Aragon circuit I find myself sat in the passenger seat. While it is not my objective to judge Spanish infrastructural design, I must say that I found the hotel’s driveway being directly connected to the on- and off-ramp of a motorway highly interesting. It also provided us with the near perfect opportunity to blow straight from 0 to a 100+ km/h from the get go. I am pushed back into my seat when the overwhelmingly virtuous soundtrack takes over and brings an instant smile to my face. I could not imagine a better start to my day with the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR.
After a first few thrilling minutes in the SVR, the remaining stretch of highway driving made me realize how comfortable the ride actually was given that it’s a supercar. After a relatively short stretch of driving on the Spanish Autopista, we took an exit and entered the Spanish countryside where twisty and deserted mountain roads awaited us. With dynamic mode engaged, the chassis noticeably stiffens up and the music coming from the rear is turned up a notch.
It is during moments like these that I thank myself for not having gone full savage on the overly generous breakfast buffet the same morning, because there is no mercy for those who do. My co-driver, from who I understood has comprehensive rally driving experience, impressed with his driving skills and ensured that we arrived at our stop-over far quicker than I expected. Before I got behind the wheel I took in the breathtaking scenery right at the border of Catalonia and Aragon. The Firesand F-Type SVR Coupe sure poses a striking image against the beautiful background.
Driving the second leg of our morning drive to the circuit I got a solid impression of what the SVR is capable of. With dynamic mode engaged we swiftly made our way towards the Motorland Circuit, where we’d be the first ones to arrive. The steering is something Jaguar has nailed on this car, the electronic power assisted steering (EPAS) feels just right and provides comfort without overcompensation.
Just as feedback from the wheel, overall balance of a car is something I value a great deal too. Thanks to the AWD system and other technical assistance systems such as torque vectoring, the SVR feels very controllable and boosts confidence, while still maintaining a playful character. To further explore its limits, I drove a few laps on the track, starting out with a quick tour of the 5.3 kilometer long circuit and a hot lap in the passenger seat.
Depending on its configuration, the circuit knows a 1.9 kilometer straight and a variety of challenging turns, of which the most challenging was probably the chicane. It is during that particular part where you make full use of the car’s AWD potential and can still get away with a modest powerslide. The fairly long straight gave a good sense of how fast the F-Type SVR comes in reach of its top speed while also providing the opportunity to give the brakes a good workout. In the end I managed to get the SVR up to 175 mph (282 km/h) on the straight before firmly stepping on the braking pedal. It certainly felt like the SVR had plenty more to give.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the track time, it was time to move on to our final stop of the day, the medieval monastery of Poblet. For the afternoon drive we were given an ammonite grey F-Type SVR convertible with a red leather interior. The weather was perfect for open-top driving, so my first order of business was folding the soft-top down with the push of a button. We soon got on our way and the first thing I noticed was the increased presence of the V8 roar.
In terms of performance nothing noticeably changes compared to the coupe. In fact, the convertible rushes to a 100 km/h in just the same time and we’re talking about 300 km/h and faster once changes between the two start becoming apparent.
On our way to the coffee stop there was plenty of challenging tarmac, with the occasional characteristic village between. With buildings on both sides of the road the exhaust note was emphasized by echoes, making heads turn at every street corner and probably awaking the locals from their dear siesta. There really is no need to drive fast for some serious fireworks to leave the exhaust pipes. The sound of the pops, bangs and crackles, or as my co-driver referred to it: ‘it sounds like a bloody machine gun’, really is unparalleled and one of the incremental ingredients that make this car such an enjoyable ride.
The Jaguar F-Type SVR finds a worthy competitor in the Mercedes AMG GTS, a car that is capable of delivering similar performance and has a similar price tag. Then again, 110,000 GBP opens up a range of possibilities when it comes to picking supercars. What to think of a well equipped Porsche 911? The F-Type SVR is relentless when it comes to power, although its competitors weigh in at least a 100 kg less. One thing I would consider to be an advantage for the SVR is its AWD drivetrain, which would make it far more usable as an all-weather daily driver.
While the Jaguar F-Type R already made quite a name for itself over the past few years, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR is the long awaited cherry on the cake that we’ve all been waiting for. Driving the SVR was a fantastic experience, on both open roads and the race track. It is perhaps the most well-balanced GT car currently on the market, one with a rigorous character when pushed hard, but also one that ensures comfort on longer journeys. Jaguar SVO has done a splendid job with the first Jaguar SVR, a truly desirable supercar with a rocking exhaust note to match.