As tantalising as first tastes of a new car go, this one whets the appetite as much as the sound of a cold can of Coke opening on a scorching hot day in the desert.
Ah, sound. For this is what this story really boils down to. We’re in Manhattan, New York City for a first blast in the all-new Jaguar F-Type SVR, the fastest and most powerful regular production Jaguar ever. In a tunnel. At night.
The F-Type SVR, in case you need reminding, is the 567bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8, four-wheel drive version of the F-Type. Due to reach the UK this summer, it’s the son of the strictly limited Project 7 special edition from 2014, which showed just how far the F-Type could be pushed as an extreme performance product.
The F-Type SVR, the work of Jaguar Land Rover’s rapidly ascending Special Vehicle Operations division that also produced Project 7 and the Range Rover Sport SVR, is the slightly more sane and usable follow-up to Project 7, but soft it is not.
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Based on the F-Type R AWD, in coupe form the F-Type SVR will send you from 0-62mph in just 3.7sec and on to a 200mph top speed. The performance makeover on an already very performance focussed product is thorough, with lots of extra cooling and aerodynamic additions to help maximise that extra performance, and a chassis makeover to help the car fly around a circuit, but tuned in a very Jaguar way to ensure it remains compliant and usable every day.
And then there is the exhaust system, which is perhaps most relevant here. It’s a lightweight titanium and Inconel exhaust that weighs some 16kg less than the F-Type R AWD’s, and has lots of trickery to give what Jaguar claims is a “dramatic, purposeful, harder-edge exhaust note”. And, as with the F-Type R AWD, the ‘naughty button’ remains available to the driver, a picture of an exhaust on the centre console that when pressed and activated sends the exhaust into the full aural beans mode.
Jaguar has pulled a lot of strings to have the tunnel shut down for five hours on the eve of the New York motor show. The tunnel is on Park Avenue, and runs for 422 metres between 33rd and 38th street. The speed limit has been raised from 25mph to 65mph for the evening, but we haven’t spied any speed cameras in the tunnel…
A passenger ride is up first in one direction, and it’s the slightly slower (at 194mph, still) convertible version of the F-Type SVR we’re in, with the roof down, of course, to best hear that noise.
So that noise, then. It’s brilliant. It’s lovely. It’s really bloody loud. It’s the volume that those old speakers you used to have would always distort at if you tried to turn it up to them. It gets inside you like the party your neighbour had until 2am with vibrations coming through the wall. And above all, it’s the type of noise that reminds you just how great it can be when a car launches a full-on assault on one of your senses. That’s all before you get the pops and crackles when lifting off. You might be able to tell I quite liked it.
That was all just from the passenger seat. When it was my turn to drive it, there was a bit less time to savour the noise as the nerves kicked in trying to keep the car in a straight line. It’s intimidating to give it full throttle in a tight tunnel on an uneven, slippery road surface not designed for all-wheel drive sports cars with 567bhp. It was, in a word, lively. That, and chuffing quick. Still, I didn’t put it in the wall even when feeling all giddy with a ringing in my ears, so it’s all good safe fun.
We’ve already had some standout performance cars this year with the Ford Focus RS and BMW M2. The F-Type SVR, on first acquaintance, seems likely to be every bit as memorable. Just how the hell am I going to sleep tonight with that noise still ringing in my ears?