Car Reviews

Test Drive Review: Jaguar F-Type SVR, the cat gets wilder

More power, more noise and that rear wing! From a frisky cat the Jaguar F-Type SVR has now become an angry lion that needs muscling round corners to get the most out of it

The Jaguar F-Type SVR gets more power over the already powerful F-Type R

If there was one car that didn’t need any more power it is the F-Type R. Granted it wasn’t over the grippiest of roads but my last outing with the Jag was also the last time I played around with the ESP of sports cars on a public road. Even in the half-way house setting, the way the tail slithered and wriggled was, first, hilarious and then age-enhancing especially after I caught an armful of lock exiting a greasy toll gate. So naturally the F-Type gets even more power, thanks to the SVR treatment.

Compared to the R’s not-piffling 542bhp the SVR’s supercharged V8 is charged even more enthusiastically to put out 567bhp. And the exhaust – that my mum insisted had fallen off when I took her for a spin in the R – has become even louder. To call it shouty is to call Arnab Goswami reserved. The claimed ‘distinctive rumble’ is more like the proclamation of the end of days of men.

“Compared to the R’s not-piffling 542bhp the SVR’s supercharged V8 is charged even more enthusiastically to put out 567bhp”

Standing behind the barriers at Jaguar’s Gaydon test track, an old RAF runway that was the base of a nuclear squadron during the Cold War, the F-Type SVR thunders past like a Vickers Valiant heading for Moscow. The thunder booming from the titanium and Inconel pipework exiting through four exhaust tips is loud, brash, rowdy and laugh-out-loud hilarious. And those pipes also shave 19 kilos over the R, while further weight savings come from magnesium seat frames that knock off 30 kilos of unwanted lard.

New powertrain, all wheel drive and the wing

All this power would have been unusable to be honest if not for one crucial upgrade to the powertrain – all-wheel drive. It means you floor the SVR and it goes without the yellow triangle blinding you with its flashing. 100kmph takes 3.5 seconds, which would be bloody quick except with that exhaust barking away it feels ferociously quick. It also looks ferocious what with that absurdly large wing bolted on to what, I personally think, is the prettiest bum on a sports car. Plus there’s that carbonfibre splitter on the front bumper and an enormous carbonfibre rear diffuser.

“100kmph takes 3.5 seconds, which would be bloody quick except with that exhaust barking away it feels ferociously quick”

Of course you can delete the rear spoiler and retain the deployable spoiler though I cannot see why you’d buy a shouty SVR without the shouty wing. Who cares about subtlety? With a claimed top speed of 312kmph I’d also feel much happier having a big wing sticking out back, for the (perceived) aerodynamic benefits at big speeds. In reality though I did clock some big numbers on the Gaydon runway with the smaller-spoiler SVR and it didn’t feel nervous at all. The optional carbon ceramic brakes do work very well, as I discovered when a pheasant decided to take a stroll across the track.

How’s the ride?

Suspension then and the revised springs and dampers were put to test on the various handling tracks at Gaydon (it’s an enormous facility, I can tell you that much!). And despite the instructor’s best attempts, I have to tell you that the ride is stiff. In full Dynamic your cavity fillings are in danger of shaking loose. After one lap I stuck it in Comfort, thank you very much.

The SVR doesn’t lack for speed, I can tell you that much. With AWD there’s none of that friskiness at the rear which made the R so memorable so you can stand on the throttle a wee bit before the apex without worrying about catching an armful of lock. Unlike new AWD super-saloons like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E 63 S there is no drift mode though to stick it in RWD and bonfire the rear tyres.

“From a frisky cat the F-Type SVR has now become an angry lion that needs muscling round corners to get the most out of it”

Neither does this AWD mimic the sensations of RWD and so you get more understeer and less playfulness on the throttle. You also have to throw it hard into corners to get the SVR to settle on its springs and then exploit the prodigious grip on offer. From a frisky cat the F-Type SVR has now become an angry lion that needs muscling round corners to get the most out of it. Ultimately the F-Type SVR is about mad straight-line performance, even madder carbonfibre addenda and an utterly insane exhaust note. And you won’t go white in the hair exiting tollbooths on a rainy day.

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