What is it?
The Jaguar F-Type SVR, which we’re trying today in the UK for the first time after having a go overseas a few months ago. Since then, a Jaguar F-Type coupé found its way into an Autocar group test and rather impressed us. It was a base model V6, on modest wheels, and everybody who drove it came away thinking it made a rather lovely GT car. It was smooth and relaxing with a fine ride, yet an interior that set out to impress, and a raspy six-cylinder noise that meant to do the same. Its entry-level price was a little over £50,000.
This SVR model is an F-Type that’s trying to be something else entirely. It’s was developed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, so SVO makes SVR, confusingly, and it’s effectively the former range-topping F-Type R taken up another couple of notches. The SVR is powered by a 5.0-litre V8, as is the R, but instead of 542bhp it has 567bhp and, because that has been deemed more than enough to be put through an F-Type’s rear wheels, thanks very much, it has four-wheel drive as standard to calm things down a bit. 4WD is optional in the R.
It's certainly not a bad idea: a rear-driven R is pretty full-on, all the time. If it were a child, it’d be the kind who rounds the bannister making tyre squealing and engine noises on its way up to bed, even after a long day. The SVR, despite a power (and price) increase, is meant to be less irrepressible. The more sensible older brother. Slightly more sensible, at any rate, because it now costs £110,000 in entry-level form and will do 200mph if you leave the extravagant carbonfibre rear wing in place; a deployable one is a no-cost delete option, but then aerodynamic lift limits the SVR to 186mph. That price, though, doesn’t include carbon ceramic brakes, which you have to have in a pack with a wheel upgrade for £8570, and it doesn’t include a £2550 carbonfibre roof, which is 20% lighter than an aluminium one; chuck on some other extras too, especially even yet more carbonfibre outside, and it’s pretty easy to make this a £130,000 car.
What's it like?
On the road it’s a mix of sensible and not-so sensible. On the wild front it still makes a fairly extraordinary noise. It’s been a while since we drove a regular F-Type R but the NASCAR-redolent sound seems on even fuller volume here when you want it to be, and throttle response is incredibly sharp – it’s supercharged, not turbocharged, remember, so there’s never any lag to worry about. It bangs on the overrun with the best of them.
Lots of throttle in the rear-driven R would be accompanied by a chirrup of tyre and a rapidly flashing ESP light (or a lot of tyre smoke if you’d turned that off), but the SVR copes with the extra urge just fine.
That it has four-wheel drive as standard makes going around bends more stable, so it now generates exceptional levels of lateral grip without the rear tyres deciding to bring a conventional cornering line to a premature end. Massively unlike the old Jaguar XKR-S, then, which had comical rear grip and was also as brittle as a board. The SVR’s nothing like that in this respect, either. It’s firm, sure, but there’s a welcome level of suppleness to it. Perhaps that’s another reason it feels more composed, more often, than an R; it keeps the tyres in more frequent contact with the road. It’s the most grown-up, ludicrous range-topping Jaguar for a while.
It steers nicely, too, with more heft and feel than from other F-Types – certainly a lot more than the V6 models. Curious as it sounds, a part suede-like steering wheel (£565) helps; that kind of material always does seem to promote feel.
Should I buy one?
Our preference remains with lesser F-Types, but there’s lots to like here. The F-Type SVR is the confident older brother with a bit of swagger and a slightly bullying underside, who maybe tries a bit hard and... look, I’ll be honest, I think I’ve taken this analogy quite a lot further than it merited. Hopefully you get the idea, though.
It’s just that, as the numbers start hitting six figures, and when only a couple of options can lift the price towards £130,000, F-Type SVR’s rivals start getting awfully serious, awfully quickly. It lands itself in the realms of the Aston Martin Vantage, Audi R8, McLaren 570S, Mercedes-AMG GT and Porsche 911 Turbo. It just about holds its own up here, but it finds life rather easier against softer, cheaper company.
Jaguar F-Type SVR
Price £110,000; On sale now; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 567bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 516lb ft at 3500-5000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1705kg; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Top speed 200mph; Economy 25.0mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 269g/km, 37% Rivals , Mercedes-AMG GT, Porsche 911 Turbo