Blast off in the fastest F-TYPE ever made
If you don’t like being the centre of attention, don’t buy a Jaguar F-TYPE SVR. You might think I’m being facetious, but the fact of the matter is the car – particularly dipped in the Ultra Blue paint colour as was our tester – is designed to break necks and stir up conversation with complete strangers. At least this is what I personally experienced during my weeklong loan of the raucous two-seater.
Most people have seen the beautiful lines of the F-TYPE, available in both coupe and convertible form – although you’ll want the latter for reasons I will touch on in a moment, and the grade-topping SVR enhances the design even further. The intakes flanking the grille, for instance, are much larger singular units as opposed to split up as on the lower trim levels. The roof is covered in carbon fiber. Around the back, a complementary active carbon fiber race wing sits on the trunk, and the rear bumper diffuser is far more aggressive for increased aerodynamics, wrapped around quad exhaust tips rather than the standard centre exit duals.
“The purity of the F-TYPE’s form is something truly special, but in designing the new F-TYPE SVR we had the opportunity to create something even more dramatic. Every additional form, line or component is there for a reason, and contributes to the car’s increased performance as well as its presence,” says Jaguar director of design Ian Callum.
New for 2018 are full adaptive LED headlights, with the interior J-Blade daytime running lights now doubling as turn signals. The rear tail lamps have been given a smoked treatment. Inside, the cabin benefits from special magnesium alloy “slimline” seats featuring improved ergonomics, better supportive bolstering and eight kilograms in weight savings over their predecessors. Occupants will find they have 50 millimetres more rearward travel giving welcome extra legroom.
As elegant and refined as the overall packaging is, the powertrain is simply unbridled and raw. Jaguar Land Rover’s favourite supercharged V8 engine is shoehorned under the hood, here sending 550 horsepower to all four wheels. Sure, some vehicles have the same or higher output, but the manner in which the SVR puts the power to the ground has to be felt to be believed.
The best way to enjoy the SVR is in roadster form, top down, and with the active exhaust button depressed, opening up electronic internal baffles inside the piping. Put the pedal to the medal and all eight cylinders sends its fury exiting through the titanium exhaust producing an otherworldly sound.
Just don’t count on going too far in it: the convertible has barely any usable trunk space. The coupe is marginally better. Other downsides include a penchant for making passengers car sick (even my rollercoaster-loving wife) thanks to the overly efficient bright yellow Carbon Ceramic Matrix brake calipers and 502 lb-ft of white-knuckled torque. Blind spots are a problem, more so for the fixed roof variant, and as I mentioned earlier, the vehicle sticks out like a sore thumb whether parked or moving so be prepared for that.
Still, in terms of fun, uniqueness and year-round drivability, it’s hard to beat, as one John Edwards, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations says. “Our objective was to take everything that our customers love about F-TYPE, the performance, the handling, the sound, the design – and take it to a whole new level. This is what the F-TYPE SVR delivers: it’s a 200 mile-per-hour all-weather supercar.”
Motor: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 550 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 502 @ 3,500 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic transmission
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 13.6 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)