No matter how cool one’s job is, if you do it long enough, it’s easy to get jaded. Take writing about cars, for instance. In the 14-ish years I’ve been lucky enough to have this gig, I’ve found myself feeling critical towards some of the most amazing machines. Once, while blasting a brand new Bentley Continental GTS convertible down the Autobahn, I turned to the Bentley rep next to me and said that, yes, the car is nice, but it could use the glass buttons from the Mulsanne. I’ve also been known to go on record saying that I was glad to be rid of the hyper-limited McLaren 675LT because it was way too uncomfortable for daily use. Yes, that is bragging, and no, it’s not of the humble variety.
But with the new Jaguar F-Type SVR convertible, I’m hard-pressed to find any sort of fault with it at all. It’s a car that elicits so many different emotions that it’s hard to know how to even begin describing it. So let’s start with the basics.
Constructed by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations arm, the F-Type SVR is one of the most impressive Jaguars ever, boasting even more power than the F-Type Project 7. Its 5.0-litre V8 engine is supercharged and gets its 575 horsepower down to the ground via an 8-speed automatic transmission and advanced all-wheel drive system. The bodywork has been stretched, smoothed, and cut to help optimize airflow, with functional vents to help expel hot air and reduce lift, and a flat undertray that smoothes turbulent air under the car. Even the stuff one doesn’t see has been rethought for added strength and/or weight savings — for instance, the Inconel titanium exhaust, which comes in at a whopping 35 pounds lighter than the one found on the standard F-Type. It’s a well thought out package that helps this convertible sprint from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 195 mph. Opt for the fixed-roof version, and that top speed climbs to an honest 200 mph.
So yes, on paper, the Jaguar F-Type SVR looks like it can offer up a whole lot of fun. And from the first stab of the throttle, this car had me giggling like a fool. The immediate access to this car’s power—and there is a lot of it—is nice, but it’s the accompanying roar that makes this Jaguar truly special. It’s loud, ferocious, and more than a bit socially unacceptable. It’s a sound more befitting of an uncorked American V8 than a storied English machine. Letting off the throttle after hard acceleration causes the exhaust to emit racecar-like bangs and pops — which, again, feels uncivilized, but still lights up the pleasure centres of one’s more primal brain.
Honestly, these sensations alone make the Jaguar F-Type SVR feel like it’s worth every penny of its $140,000 (USD) price tag. That the car offers excellence in terms of handling, styling, and luxury is just a nice bonus.
While laws, poor road conditions, and the like may keep this SVR’s 195 mph top speed out of reach, it’s still at its happiest when running at high speed. It’s a car that’s surefooted on the freeways, and feels absolutely alive when running up twisty mountain roads. Though the Jag’s beefy V8 offers plenty of power down low, it really starts hitting its sweet spot at about 5,000 rpm, and it’s here where the car feels most alive. Mountain roads, in this car, are amazing; they present the opportunity to bury the gas pedal, get the engine singing, connect with the road, and precisely negotiate each turn. In fact, Jaguar’s “torque vectoring by braking” technology will gently apply the brakes to the inside wheel and transfer more torque to the outside wheel, enabling the car to hold the exact driving line you choose. You’ll drive, run out of road, slam on the massive carbon ceramic brakes to slow things down a bit, let the all-wheel drive system wring the car through the bend, and then do it all over again — and again and again, until the car starts running low on fuel and you have no choice but to take things easy.
Given the car’s premium pedigree, it’s not exactly painful to drive the Jaguar F-Type SVR at slow speeds, either. Yes, the sport-tuned suspension is bumpy, but livable overall. Helping mellow that roughness is an impeccably tailored interior. Its 14-way power adjustable sport seats are nicely sculpted, with deep bolsters that cradle and keep occupants in place. They’ve got a definite racecar vibe to them, but the leather-trimmed lozenge quilt pattern keeps them firmly out of the “boy racer” realm. Soft leather wraps the steering wheel, providing a nice touch point from which to take hold of the anodized aluminum paddle shifters. Alcantara wraps the dash and center console, and electric-blue stitching and piping rounds things out. A premium 770-watt Meridian sound system also comes standard, but let’s be honest: when the engine sounds this good, you really don’t need a radio.
And as long as we’re being honest: this writer knows that most people don’t really buy a Jaguar F-Type SVR for how it performs, but rather how it looks. With its aggressive front end, sexy lines, and quad anodized titanium exhaust tips peeking through the rear diffuser—not to mention the screaming Ultra Blue paint—it’s a car that demands attention. Lots of people (dudes, mostly, in other sporty cars) speed up just to ask what kind of car it is. Given that Los Angeles is filled with exotics, the fact that the Jaguar still manages to stand out while retaining an air of mystery shows that this is one truly special ride.
It’s rare for me to want to gush about a car—any car—but there’s something about the Jaguar F-Type SVR that appeals to me on every level. I can’t help but think that it’s a truly flawless car.
Actually, scratch that. There was one glaring problem with my time with the car: Jaguar made me give it back.