The best Jaguar on sale today is also insanely fun, but its $300,000+ asking price places it firmly in supercar territory. So, does it live up to the expectation?
The hardest thing about trying to justify spending $300,000+ on a car like this 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR is that it’s entirely specious. There is no reason on earth anyone needs a car this expensive, loud or fast. But let me tell you why you do, because while there is still no cure for ageing, this is pretty damn close.
The problem with the Jaguar F-Type SVR is in the form of some random car company called Porsche, with an unknown car called the 911 GT3. You can make the same argument about Audi and the R8. You see, these three cars cost about the same and inherently, if you put it on an Excel spreadsheet or on a race track, the Germans are the better choices. It just is, let us not debate it further.
But going back to the trying to justify the purchase price, who cares about a slightly faster lap time or better overall dynamics when you have a car this beautiful?
From the outside, the SVR treatment for the F-Type looks mighty impressive. The rear wing, in person at least, is just gorgeous. The design can be described as being a little busy if you're an accountant type, but it's more than poster worthy for any true car enthusiast.
The thing is, the F-Type SVR is just ridiculous. You just have to jump in, engage dynamic mode and make sure the exhaust is turned on and it has one of the sweetest sounding exhaust notes in history. I would go so far as to say the 5.0-litre engine is the best sounding V8 on the planet.
The beauty of it is, that unlike the Germans and their insistence on turbocharging, the English have gone for a supercharger, which means the exhaust gases have more freedom to disturb the peace. And disturb the peace they do.
During our few days with this car we got pulled over twice by Queensland police, once because they claimed the car was too loud (not helped by our insistence to time the downshift right past their window for that deafening shotgun sound crackle). This argument was dropped immediately, and a second time because – and we are not making this up – they wanted to hear it rev. More of those cops, please.
The sound of the SVR is not as loud outright as the standard V8 R, thanks to the change of the exhaust system from stainless steel to titanium and something called Inconel (which our resident engineering nerd, Paul Maric, tells me is a nickel alloy containing chromium and iron).
The change in material and a different tune sees it shed 16kg and emit a higher pitch sound, and close to redline it’s the sort of note that people will stop whatever it is their doing and quietly listen, then make a facial expression like they just stabbed their toe into the side of a cheap Ikea table. The exhaust note invigorates the soul. It makes you and everyone who gets to hear it happy, you simply have to smile. Doesn’t matter if you’re a car-hating activist. It’s an audible cure for any terminal illness.
With a supercar-like 423kW of power and a whopping 700Nm of torque, this V8 is not messing around. It’s the most powerful and fastest Jaguar currently on sale. Link it up with an all-wheel drive system and a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, and you’ll see it go from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds, without launch control, a feature which is oddly missing. We were told it’s to stop gearbox abuse, considering the massive torque. We would mention fuel economy at this stage but it's so outrageous it's almost not worth it. Let's just say, expect to become a BP shareholder.
Technical details aside, this car is all about being seen and heard. Especially in this CarAdvice orange matched to the yellow carbon-fibre brake system. To find out just how many heads it would turn against Lamborghinis and Ferraris, we decided to take it out amongst a range of supercars in Brisbane one night. We can report, without a doubt, its street credibility matches its price tag, let alone its exclusivity, which even for a standard F-Type is excellent.
The interior of the SVR is no different to the standard F-Type, bar a few more SVR badges and nicer stitching. It’s insanely impractical, and you can’t fit anything anywhere. Our iPhone 7+ enjoyed being thrown around the cabin as much as we did. The boot is laughably small, and on the odd occasion when we had to turn off the exhaust to not start a neighbourhood riot, we found the stereo rather average, though it can surely be optioned up to offer more watts.
Behind the wheel, the most disappointing aspect of the car is the gearbox. For us, the ZF eight is now tired and needs replacing with a high-end dual clutch transmission (DCT) capable of handling the torque. The shifts are solid enough, but you can tell they are not as crisp or as fast as the DCT systems employed by Porsche and Audi.
Upgrading the gearbox alone would cut the SVR’s 0-100km/h time by at least half a second (we believe), putting it in solid supercar territory. It would also vastly improve the driving experience, which at times is soiled by requesting a downshift and having it presented in NBN fashion latency.
Side by side and on the go the SVR can hold its own against much more expensive cars, but when it comes to the tight and twisty stuff, one begins to feel its 1705kg weight. Look, it’s heavy, probably too heavy, and we can’t think of any good way to excuse it. Nonetheless, what can really alter the car’s character in that regard is the steering, which we found almost too sensitive without giving much feedback when pushed close to its limits. It’s not a deal breaker though, and you can adjust and get used it.
After a solid (speed limit enforced) run through Brisbane’s Mount Nebo and Glorious, we have to admit the F-Type SVR is clearly not as dynamically capable as its already mentioned German rivals. The new R8, for example, is ridiculously more capable in the tight stuff. But no doubt the Jaguar is better suited to an open race track where it can exploit its might and have the room and capacity to stretch its legs. In that sense, it’s more like the Mercedes-AMG GT S, more of a hardcore cruiser with the capability to maul anything that comes near it.
While all the rival cars mentioned so far tend to blend into traffic like a German rainbow, the SVR is in an attention-seeking class of its own for the $289,000 (plus costs) price tag. It’s like dating a deafening supermodel, probably: Beautiful in every imaginable way, and you can forgive its flaws just by looking at it and listening to it scream. Thankfully, in the Jaguar’s case, it also doesn’t age.
To be fair and bold, for this writer at least, the Jaguar F-Type SVR is a supercar. It may not be as fast as some outright, but it possesses all the characteristics of its competitors with appeal and exclusivity. If the bad-boy world of Jaguar appeals to you in the sense of standing out from a crowd, there is no better option out there.
Listen to the CarAdvice team discuss the Jaguar Art of Performance Tour and a lap in the F-Type below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.