What is it?
The Jaguar F-Type SVR isn’t your typical ‘halo’ sports car. It was not part of the script written by Jaguar’s product planners in the build-up to the launch of the F-Type roadster in 2013. It was not being thought of as the company’s engineers prepared the F-Type R Coupé for launch a year later. As those same engineers will tell you, when they finished the 542bhp R Coupé, they thought they’d taken the F-Type as far as it could go as a high-performance model. For the record, so did we; it was not a disappointing car to drive.
But when the limited-run F-Type Project 7 came along last year, it changed the picture. Firstly by demonstrating that an appetite for an even more powerful and expensive F-Type did exist, and secondly by allowing the team of specialists that would go on to crew Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations team to show what they can do.
That pretty much brings us up to date. Jaguar’s first SVR-branded product, the 567bhp F-Type SVR, was unveiled at the 2016 Geneva motor show. It’s the fastest roadgoing Jaguar since the XJ220, capable of an ungoverned 200mph as a fixed-roof coupé. It's also available as a soft-top roadster, albeit with a slightly lower top speed and higher price.
What's it like?
Think of this as a quicker, more composed and less lurid-handling F-Type and you’ll be on the right page. It could hardly have been a stiffer, wilder or more excitable car than the F-Type R Coupé, as anyone who read our 2014 Best Driver’s Car contest may remember. Instead, it was always Jaguar’s intention to add pace, purpose and poise to the F-Type’s arm as well as stability, usability and just a touch of cruising comfort. And mostly, SVO’s expert crew has met those aims.
The Project 7’s highly tuned supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine provided the mechanical departure point, although in the SVR that motor’s 567bhp finds its way to the road through all four wheels rather than exclusively through the rear axle, and also through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Wider 20in forged alloy wheels, new adaptive dampers, retuned anti-roll bars and a new lightweight knuckle for the rear suspension complete the SVR’s chassis overhaul. Retuned control software for the power steering, automatic gearbox, stability control, active rear differential and four-wheel drive system is part of the deal, too.
That says nothing about the major effort put into making this a genuine 200mph car: on aerodynamics. Drop a Project 7 engine into a normal F-Type coupé and it would stop accelerating just shy of 190mph. But with a wider and more slippery front valance, vented front wings that take pressure out of the wheel arches, a sleeker underbody, a new exhaust and an active rear wing and diffuser that between them reduce rear axle lift to almost nothing, the SVR apparently motors on to the magic 200mph – given enough space to do it.
The Motorland Speedway in Aragon, Spain, didn’t provide quite enough space, but I can tell you that at 180mph the SVR is accelerating still – much as it’ll matter to anyone interested in this car as a roadgoing machine. More important, although you wouldn’t say the F-Type has been utterly transformed by the attentions of the SVO team, plenty of meaningful gains have certainly been made, enabling us to consider this the most stable, driveable and dynamically sophisticated F-Type of the lot.