Shock and awe. Press the starter button just forward of the gear selector on the centre console, and the 2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR snarls into life. It’s raucous and unfriendly. A rumble of energy filled with the promise of what’s to come.
This is the apex predator of Jaguar F-Types – the supercharged, all-wheel-drive, V8-pulsing highway crusher. At $297,242 list plus on-road costs, the SVR sits at the top of the F-Type range that leaps out of showrooms with the $113,842 standard 2.0-litre, four-cylinder coupe. And as good as that four-pot Jag is, there’s no contest once the force-fed V8 fires up with a sonorous rumble that fills your ears, the cabin, and the whole goddamn neighbourhood.
This current-generation F-Type has been around since 2014, while the SVR made its debut at Geneva back in 2016. Age, though, has not wearied the F-Type, which continues to look fresh and contemporary. Graceful curves are ageless, and the F-Type has ’em by the French curve-ful thanks to the pen of Ian Callum. Subjective, of course, but the F-Type is a looker by any definition.
Its near-$300K ask brings with it a slew of rivals from Aston Martin to BMW, Mercedes-AMG and even Nissan. Then there’s the obligatory Porsche 911, where circa-$300K will get you an all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S, or if your style ethos is slightly more Teutonic, there’s always an Audi R8. Buyers in this part of the stratosphere are spoilt for choice, it seems.
The choice here is a blown V8 with all-wheel drive and a whole lot of noise.
It’s a long snout, the SVR’s, and it hides the beating heart of this giant of a cat – a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 with a staggering 423kW of power (at 6500rpm) and 700Nm of torque (at 3500rpm). Matched to Jaguar’s eight-speed Sports automatic transmission sending drive to all four wheels, the SVR can complete the dash to triple figures in a scant 3.7 seconds, before topping out the speedo at a claimed and quite precise 322km/h – properly quick.
And properly monstrous. The F-Type SVR is a beast of a machine, from the moment you fire up the engine to elicit a chorus of snarls and growls written by Apollo himself, to when you step on the throttle and the snarls turn into howls as the nose lifts and the big cat rushes towards the horizon with the intensity of a hunter in full flight. Each gear change is accompanied by a bang as intoxicating as it is surprising.
This is not a car for the demure, the meek, the mild of heart. Instead, it’s an unashamed throwback, with old-school muscle car vibes wrapped in a sleek curvaceous body.
It’s not all about might and power, though, the F-Type surprisingly adept at handling day-to-day driving duties. That’s thanks, partially, to the standard-fit adaptive dynamics that dials in enough suppleness when needed to make even the crappiest sections of Sydney’s roads bearable. Make no mistake, the F-Type remains firm, even in its softest setting, but it’s not unbearable. And the trade-off is, when you find an empty road that winds and twists without end, the firmest Dynamic setting provides a taut and telepathic ride you’ll be grateful for.
It’s a playful chassis, the SVR’s, and despite the brand’s AWD platform underpinning Jaguar’s halo car, there’s enough slip in the tail to enjoy. The system is rear-biased, and that means you can enjoy a bit of tail-wagging before torque vectoring does its thing and sends some traction to the front wheels, providing grip and a surety that’s welcoming in someone else’s $300K-plus sports car.
But this is no sports car on rails. There’s a bite to go along with the F-Type’s howl, the big cat flirting with your abilities should you try to exploit its limits. Not in a bad way, but just enough to remind you there’s a lot of car under your right foot. Circumspection and a recognition of your own frailties win the day.
Yet, when handled the right way, the F-Type rewards with an ability and a performance that leaves you grinning for days. There’s a near perfection to the eight-speed auto that’s hard to fathom. Trundle around town for the day and its unobtrusive shifting is barely perceptible, exactly as it should be. Or, use the aluminium paddle-shifters to swap your own ratios when attacking a teasing bit of tarmac, and the 8AT responds with precision to a thunderous symphony of bangs, crackles and pops that could wake the dead, let alone your neighbours.
You’d expect a stonking 5.0-litre supercharged V8 to be on the thirsty side. You’d be wrong. Our week with the car saw an indicated 12.5L/100km against Jaguar’s claim of 11.3L on the combined cycle – not all that surprising considering the big cat is happy to purr at 100km/h with that big motor barely raising a sweat at 1350rpm. Toodle around town at 60km/h and that needle on the analogue tacho barely moves past idle, sitting on 1100rpm.
Thanks to the $21,280 optional Carbon Ceramic Brake Pack, the SVR has no trouble pulling up smartly. The 398mm rotors up front and 380mm at back, complemented by striking yellow calipers, all housed inside 20-inch SVR alloys, offer plenty of confidence when pulling up the circa-1800kg big cat. Time and time again.
That’s not the only option the SVR is carrying. That Santorini Black metallic paint is an extra $2950, while the panoramic roof adds $2110. Windsor leather is an additional $2110, while the seats are heated and cooled for $1150. There’s two-zone climate control ($1040), a powered tailgate ($1160), tyre pressure monitoring ($790), privacy glass ($650) and a cheeky $640 for DAB radio. All up, our $297,242 list price balloons to $329,012 plus on-road costs. It’s a lot of money, but then, this is a lot of car.
Inside, the Red Windsor leather interior wouldn’t be my first choice of colourway. But, the seats are supportive, with nice bolstering and a nicely low-slung seating position. You really do sit in the SVR, not on it, lending it a nice racy vibe. The cabin exudes premium, as it should at this level.
The infotainment is typical JLR fare, which is to say it’s decent. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, while Bluetooth connectivity, if you prefer, is quick and easy to set up. The 8.0-inch touchscreen runs the brand’s Navigation Pro System, offers crisp graphics and resolution, and is nicely responsive to inputs. There’s a decent rear-view camera, although not a 360-degree view that at this level should probably be standard.
Safety, too, is on the light side beyond the mandatory systems all cars are required to have these days. There’s emergency brake assist, pedestrian contact sensing, and lane-keep assist, although it lacks adaptive cruise control (even as an option) and blind-spot assist is a $900 option. ANCAP? Untested.
If you’re looking to get away for the weekend, the SVR offers a surprisingly generous 408L of storage under the powered tailgate. There’s a space-saver spare under the floor.
Jaguar covers the F-Type SVR with its standard three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty including 24-hour roadside assistance. That’s not a competitive offering in an age where five years is increasingly the norm. But, a big tick to Jaguar for its complimentary scheduled servicing program that covers five years/130,000km.
Jaguar deserves high praise for sticking with an old power formula. In an age where downsizing and turbocharging increasingly rule our highways, a supercharged V8 with the character and soul of the one crammed into that long snout needs to be celebrated.
It’s a punk rock gig in an era of middle-of-the-road mainstream music. It’s a predator feasting on roads with a ravenous appetite, all while screaming a hymn from the ancient songbook of the gods of motoring. It’s automotive shock and awe.