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There are special Jaguars, and then there is the 2018 Jaguar F-Type SVR. A snarling, bellowing, AWD performance weapon that matches stunning styling with brutal intent. In many ways, it’s light years beyond the original F-Type brief – that is, it is neither light, nimble nor purely elegant without the requisite power. This F-Type is the performance premium in the range, with a price point to match.
On the dirty subject of money, the old truth that if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it remains in the case of the SVR – it’s that simple. However, we have to disclose prices here obviously, whether we (or you for that matter) can afford the SVR or not.
Here goes then…
The F-Type SVR starts from $290,512 before on-road costs, making it the most expensive F-Type by about 45 grand. It’s no shrinking violet then from the outset, and that’s before you even hit the starter button. We’ll get to the – extensive – list of options in a minute, but the standard inclusions make for pretty premium reading.
Standard equipment highlights include: adaptive dynamics, configurable dynamic mode, electronic active differential with torque vectoring, active exhaust, dynamic stability control, titanium exhaust tips, carbon-fibre aero wing, infrared reflective windscreen, LED headlights and tail-lights, SVR performance seats with quilted leather trim, 12-way electric seats with memory, heated steering wheel, configurable ambient interior lighting, 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, 5.0-inch central TFT display, pedestrian contact sensing, EBA, ABS, EBD and front and rear parking sensors.
It’s unlike Jaguar/Land Rover to not offer a vast array of options, and also not fit them to a test vehicle, and that’s very much the case here. Our test SVR is dripping with options – 60 grand’s worth in fact.
They include: carbon-ceramic brakes – 398mm front/380mm rear – and 20-inch forged alloy wheels ($21,280), exterior carbon-fibre pack ($8990), Meridian 770W surround-sound system ($7260), carbon-fibre roof ($5260), metallic paint ($2950), blind spot monitor/reverse traffic detection/driver condition monitor, lane keep assist ($2210), full premium leather interior pack ($2110), SVR-branded suedecloth steering wheel ($1800), Climate Pack 2 with two-zone climate control, heated windscreen and heated/cooled seats ($1480), InControl Connect Pro Pack ($1190), powered boot lid ($1160), rear-view camera ($1060), InControl Protect ($800), auto-dimming, power-fold heated door mirrors with memory ($800), tyre pressure monitoring system ($790), illuminated metal tread plates ($790), DAB radio ($640) and an air quality sensor ($110).
That takes the drive-away price to a meaty $351,192 before on-road costs as tested here. Yep, this isn’t a cheap way into the most exclusive kind of F-Type ownership. And again, as we’ve noted recently with JLR product, there are some options in that list you could rightly expect to be standard in a vehicle at this end of the pricing spectrum.
However, this is first and foremost a sports car. And according to Jaguar, the F-Type regardless of engine and power output is in fact the most dynamic sports car the British brand has ever manufactured. It just so happens that we have the most ballistic example on test here.
Weighing in at just over 1700kg, the F-Type SVR is competitive weight-wise in this age of heavy technological and safety inclusions, but there’s serious power on offer to propel that 1700kg too. The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine thunders out 423kW at 6500rpm and 700Nm at 3500rpm, will run the 0–100km/h sprint in just 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 322km/h.
Fuel usage? Who really cares I guess, but the ADR claim is 11.3L/100km on the combined cycle and for the period we weren’t, ahem, accessing that sonorous exhaust note with riotous abandon, we saw an indicated return of just 13.4L/100km. That’s genuinely efficient for a vehicle with this much power, this much engine savagery, and an exhaust switch in the centre console that eggs you on like a naughty schoolkid.
The eight-speed automatic is a work of art, and the AWD system (the only sports car in this price point with AWD ability) is part of the added heft over a RWD variant of the same platform. The way the gearbox is matched to the engine’s power and torque delivery is near perfect, and the shifts themselves are just as silky whether you’re crawling around town or bellowing up to redline.
The cabin is beautifully appointed, classy and special. It feels sporty, but it also feels incredibly premium, and the quilted trim is a lovely design touch. The feeling of sportiness is vital here too – it’s one thing to deliver refined British manners, but the SVR is a brash, chest-thumping sports car, there’s no room for too much sophistication here. The fact that the SVR feels exclusive and looks beautiful is exactly what’s needed. I’d say that Jaguar has nailed the cockpit feel perfectly in this instance. If you’re in the market for this car, you’re going to absolutely love this cabin ambience.
The seats retract far enough even for tall drivers and the controls are all excellent. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which gives the infotainment system a slightly older feel, along with the graphics on the satellite navigation system. The reliability of the system is otherwise excellent, though. The Bluetooth connection is easy to set up, and stays connected when you do link it to your phone. Audio streaming worked well too.
There’s useful room in the hatch area too, certainly without the full-size spare as seen here. With the spare in place, there’s precious little room to store anything, but there’s useful storage space in the SVR as tested here, certainly enough room for a weekend away. Does the cabin as a whole feel ‘expensive’ enough to justify the price? I reckon it does, but I also contend that Jaguar will need to drag its infotainment kicking and screaming into the next generation of systems.
It’s so easy to criticise sports car manufacturers for being bland, reverting to type, and not endowing their steeds with enough hard-to-define ‘X’ factor. The good news for Jaguar fans is the SVR fairly screams X-factor from every angle. Chances are your neighbours will hear you coming from the next suburb long before they see you – who would ever have the exhaust closed? – and when they do see you, no-one will be able to look away.
The SVR is svelte, sleek and muscular all at once, the styling, the fat haunches, the huge wheels, all combining to give it a look and stance that reeks of purity of purpose. On the subject of wheels, they measure 20 inches and are shod in 265/35 and 305/30 tyres front to rear respectively. The rears especially are enormous hoops that add fat to the Jaguar’s already eye-catching derrière.
I love the way Jaguar has mandated that the vehicle remembers your preferences too, so if you want the exhaust open all the time, it will stay that way. Press the starter button and the engine erupts amid a cacophony of crackling and thunder and settles into a foreboding idle.
The only thing that matches up to a large, naturally aspirated V8 in terms of throttle response is a supercharged, large-capacity V8, and the Jaguar’s 5.0-litre is a work of art. The savagery of the start procedure is matched by the savagery of the acceleration if you mash the throttle with intent, and the SVR surges toward the horizon at warp speed aided by its all-paw grip.
While the SVR gets out of the hole rapidly enough, its bag of tricks isn’t limited to off-the-line acceleration. In fact, I’d wager that this sports car – which is docile enough to potter around town in relative anonymity – is a deadly weapon once you’re up and moving on a twisty road.
Its thunderous in-gear, mid-range acceleration is both a surprise and a delight. The way in which the eight-speed drops down gears on corner entry, sticks to the tarmac beautifully as you work through the corner, and then thunders on to the next corner is a sensational way to cover the countryside. Forget the view, focus on the road ahead and see how brave you are.
Perhaps the best AWD systems are those that feel more RWD-biased most of the time, only using the front end when it is actually required, and that’s the way the SVR behaves. Entering the corner and at the first part of the throttle application, the SVR feels like a traditional RWD, but as the radius tightens and you turn in sharper, the AWD system kicks in, delivering extra grip, more poise, more safety and a competence that has you looking for a racetrack to explore the outer limits of its capability.
And, oh good lord, that gearbox. Sick to death of talk about CVTs, dual-clutch autos and robotised manuals? The good news is a standard torque converter automatic can still be both devastatingly fast and beautifully synchronised, when some have already started proclaiming its long descent into hell. It’s so well behaved at any speed, sharp, precise and direct, such a joy to use, that you wonder why more manufacturers didn’t stick with it.
The brakes and steering are just as sublime. Sure, the rotors are huge, but they work flawlessly and repeatedly at any speed, and aren’t cranky around town at low speed either. I loved the steering feel at parking speeds and the way in which it weights up as you gain speed, but the ride is hard to comprehend.
Despite the 20-inch liquorice straps, the SVR irons out Sydney’s shitty roads with ease, and most importantly with comfort that you can’t quite get your head around. It’s inconceivable that so little sidewall should ride so well, but it does, and it’s no flaws in the pan.
The original sports car MO was something of a minefield. It had to be beautiful, it had to garner admiring glances, it had to feel special, and it had to be bloody fast. On all those points, the SVR is a gold medal winner. Its stunning styling is matched by a broad array of real-world skill and ability. Negatives are truly hard to find. You’d be mad not to consider it if you have the money.