First Drive: Jaguar F-Type SVR

First Drive: Jaguar F-Type SVR

The fastest F-Type ever made has arrived to battle the likes of Porsche, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz. Thomas Falkiner took it for a quick jaunt around the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit

What is this car all about?

The SVR is the meanest, fastest and most muscular F-Type money can buy at the moment. Conceived and developed by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO for short), it blends pretty much the same everyday usability as the lesser F-Type R AWD with a harder sporting edge that will please those who enjoy indulging in the odd trackday every now and again. To provide maximum balance the engineers not only upped the engine power but also tweaked the chassis and suspension system to provide a sharper, more engaging handling experience.

F-Type SVR

Want details? Well the diameter of the front anti-roll bar has been reduced while the one at the rear has been increased. For added stability on the limit the valves of the continuously-variable dampers have been revised as has the software that controls them. The tyres wrapping those lightweight 20-inch alloy wheels have been widened and the design of the rear knuckles significantly revised: expect a 37-percent increase in camber stiffness plus a 41-percent increase in toe stiffness. All which which provides a greater sense of feel and feedback at the helm.

Finally, a fair bit of weight has been trimmed away. A standard SVR weighs 25-kilograms less than its R AWD sibling – most of which is thanks to an exotic new exhaust system built from a gravity-cheating mixture of titanium and Inconel. Specify the optional carbon ceramic brakes (R111 000) and carbon pack (R39 000 for a carbon fibre roof, vents and side mirrors) and you’re then looking at a 50-kilogram advantage.

F-Type SVR

What’s under the hood?

Lift the bonnet and you’ll find Jaguar’s ubiquitous 5.0-litre supercharged V8. You’ve seen it here, you’ve seen there, you’ve seen it almost everywhere. Except in present SVR spec it has been modified to produce a whopping 423-kilowatts of power and 700 Newton Metres of torque. That’s 18kW/20Nm more than the same unit doing duty inside the F-Type R AWD. Jaguar achieved this hearty increase by recalibrating the engine management software and bolting on that aforementioned titanium/Inconel exhaust system (which, by the way, also results in an even more brutal roar when you stomp on that accelerator pedal).

F-Type SVR

Does is stand out from the crowd?

Are the Kennedys gunshy? Stupid question. A hardcore Porsche may be subtle but a hardcore Jaguar certainly ain’t – especially not this SVR. With its huge gloss-black radiator grilles, front splitter and 20-inch alloy wheels this range-topping F-Type looks every bit the street-legal racing car. Even more so if you specify the carbon fibre roof and active rear boot spoiler. And if these don’t get you noticed the exhaust note certainly will. This is probably one of the loudest and most aurally obnoxious sports cars on the market today. To think it’s the product of one of the world’s biggest Nanny States?! Oh, the irony.

F-Type SVR

What’s noteworthy on the inside?

Like all F-Type models you get an excellent and almost infinitely adjustable driving position. But in order to set the SVR apart and stir a little exclusivity into the cabin the designers bolted in some quilted leather seats, a suedecloth-covered instrument binnacle and centre console plus a model-specific steering wheel. Although this treatment may impart a hardcore track-focused feel, Jaguar certainly didn’t skimp on creature-comforts. Standard treats include satellite navigation as well as a touchscreen infotainment system mated to a punchy 380-watt Meridian speaker/amp combo.

F-Type SVR

Is it good to drive?

Yes. Very. I didn’t drive it on our everyday roads but I did thrash it around the recently revamped Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit where the SVR proved to be one seriously impressive package. Down the main straight it felt properly quick with instant throttle response and the sort of easy, effortless torque that closes gaps quicker than Max Verstappen at the beginning of a Grand Prix. Stepping into this from a regular F-Type R AWD I could definitely feel an increase in speed and acceleration. There’s more punch. The most significant difference, however, was in the way the SVR handled through the bends.

Thanks to those chassis and suspension tweaks the car feels much more lively and engaging. It turns into corners quicker and comes out of them just that little bit more sideways. This might put the inexperienced driver on edge but those who know what they’re doing will delight in this added interactivity. Topped off with all that angry and rambunctious exhaust/engine noise the SVR is a machine that makes you grin like a devil.

The eight-speed Quickshift gearbox is certainly not as fluid or as willing (particularly on downshifts in manual mode) as a Porsche PDK or Audi S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission but for what it is it does a fine job. The optional carbon ceramic brakes are expensive but if you’re planning on doing any extensive track work then I’d recommend you cough-up for them as they provide longer and more reliable bite. The standard steel anchors on the control R AWD were toast after just three laps.

F-Type SVR

Who’s going to lose sleep about this car?

Considering its price tag the F-Type SVR is sizing up to some seriously accomplished rivals such as the Nissan GT-R, Mercedes-AMG GT S and Porsche 991 C4S. All of which are excellent steers in their own right so I doubt any will be losing too many Zs over the Jaguar’s presence. However with the exception of the Mercedes none of these quite manage to match this F-Type’s larger than life personality. Look at it this way: the SVR might be just another knife drawn in this hotly-contested knife fight but it’s a knife sporting an extravagant jeweled handle and the sort of ornately engraved blade that draws stares of admiration in between fevered stabs. If that sounds like your vibe then you definitely require a closer look.

Fast Facts: Jaguar F-Type SVR

Engine: 5 000cc supercharged V8
Power: 423kW at 6 500rpm
Torque: 700Nm from 3 500 to 5 000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed Quickshift
0-100km/h: 3.7-seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 322 km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 11.3l/100km (claimed combined)
CO2: 269g/km (claimed combined)
Price: From R2 286 300