Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 25, 2018
A review of the Jaguar F-Type SVR isn’t about articulating the 26 letters of our English alphabet into a vividly painted picture. To truly understand Jaguar’s most hardcore sports car, you have to close your eyes and shut off every sensory organ but one: your ears. Clear the passage with some Q-tips and listen to the high pitched wail, the depth of the crescendos and the legato soundtrack that defies legality. Watch our Exhaust Notes video below to find out why the SVR is one of our favourite cars from this year.
If you thought the F-Type R was loud, well the SVR takes it to another level. We’ve recorded many sports cars, even supercars before on our channel, but none come even close to this kind of savagery. Instead of a stainless steel system, the SVR’s exhaust is made from titanium and Inconel, allowing it to be lightweight yet able to withstand extremely high temperatures. And you seriously can’t help but wonder why the exhaust tips are pointed upwards, as if to direct the noise to people’s ears at a better angle.
There’s never been a more obnoxious sounding car in the world. Forget the sonorous symphony of a V10 Audi R8 and forget the V8 ordnance from an E63 AMG. Jaguar’s 5.0L supercharged V8 is another species, one that doesn’t really care about the wellbeing of your eardrums, or the bystanders that will inevitably yell at you as you rev past them and let out a maelstrom of sonic artillery fire. And the F-Type isn’t just loud. There are many loud V8s on the market like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. But this exhaust note is sharp, ear-cringingly sharp, and it unforgivingly slices through the air with a beastial frequency that I’m sure is the same one that causes involuntary defecation. My ears actually hurt when running through a tunnel, and keep in mind that this F-Type comes straight from the factory and has not been modified in any way. I’m not sure how this is legal but I’m all for it. Just don’t expect people, more specifically your neighbours, to like you very much.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about the F-Type SVR. That and it costs $140,500 before any options. But if you are still reading this, you must be wondering if the SVR is just a one trick pony, and if Jaguar has instilled a bit more than sound to its halo sports car. Before we close up shop, here is what it’s like to drive and live with this savage Brit on a daily basis.
I have driven a handful of F-Types before, everything from the four-cylinder base model to the F-Type R from yesteryear, but one weakness they all had in common was translating their feral amounts of power into the tarmac to propel themselves forward. They produced so much torque and the supercharger made so much power so quickly that the tires and chassis could never really keep up. But Jaguar has solved that issue by introducing all-wheel drive into the fold. Don’t get turned off just yet, as this is not some understeering front-biased AWD system. This is a purely rear-biased setup that only sends power to the front when absolutely necessary. Yes it adds weight but the resulting traction is sublime.
Once you put the pedal to the metal, 575 hp and 516 lb-ft is immediately sent to all four wheels. In fact, this SVR is the only car that has really given me neck whiplash from the driver’s seat. Right when I stepped on the gas, that supercharger went mad and launched so aggressively that I was rocketed back into my seat in awe (and slight pain). I did not expect this kind of acceleration from the SVR, leaving me bewildered. And no wonder, this Jag carries a top speed of 322 km/h (200 mph) and goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, which is faster than the rivaling and equally priced Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS (4.0 seconds), and as quick as a Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe. Neither the Porsche or AMG feel this vicious or barbaric off the line, though. If the 911 is a scalpel, then the F-Type SVR is a sledgehammer, and be honest with yourself, which one would you have more fun with?
But this newly found traction doesn’t give you a green light to simply floor it when the light turns green. The SVR commands respect and requires finessing of the pedal to walk on that fine line between traction and propulsion, but the F-Type makes it terribly easy for beginners to look like an Olympian hero without any stereotypical Mustang antics that will end up on YouTube’s weekly fails list.
The standard 8-speed ZF automatic transmission (no manual available) is still the weakest point of the F-Type SVR. It can’t seem to find the right gear or shift in time when aggressively accelerating. The gearbox doesn’t exactly downshift in the most gentle or fluid of manners either, and exhibits a rougher and less-willing swap than other variants of this 8-speed that we have tested in BMWs. Alas, some more fine tuning with the software should be all that is required.
On the bright side, the F-Type SVR handles rather brilliantly. Compared to the F-Type R AWD, the SVR is 25 kg lighter, and is up to 50 kg lighter when equipped with the carbon ceramic brakes ($13,260) and carbon fibre roof ($3,680). The new exhaust alone saves 16 kg. The chassis has also been uprated with new dampers, anti-roll bars, lighter wheels, and wider tires. Colour me surprised but I wasn’t expecting the SVR to dance and wiggle its way out of corners with such finesse from its electric power steering and front-nose grip.
Oversteer is inevitable with the SVR but the way the chassis allows you to confidently play with it mid-corner and tempts you to add more throttle is nothing short of exhilarating. It’s so controllable, the steering weight builds up modestly but faithfully as the speed increases, and the adaptive dampers are comfortable when in the softest settings, but appropriately stiff and bunkered down when in Dynamic mode, offering a beautiful balance for both daily and track use.
And speaking of wheels, the optional carbon ceramic brakes are exceptional, and atypical of their design, are actually very easy to live with and modulate even at moderate temperatures. Sure it may be slightly stiff when cold but they warm up incredibly quick and become consistent with strong pedal feel within just a few minutes of driving. On the other hand, the standard steel brakes work just fine for street use, so I personally would save the $13,000 and spend that on some decent winter tires instead - it’s all-wheel drive, afterall.
I did experience some powertrain shuddering and shaking at low speeds, mainly in second gear around 2,000 rpm. It did not feel like a clutch grab issue, more like cylinder misfiring or a timing problem. This concern was fairly consistent throughout my week with the vehicle, but power delivery would smoothen out when driving and revving quicker, and it did mask itself as slight “jitters” through the suspension, but the lugging did hinder low-speed commutes with constant annoyance and jerkiness to the occupants. Let’s hope it’s an issue specific to my test vehicle only.
Aesthetically, the F-Type SVR takes its role very seriously with a low stance and distinctively flared side fenders that remind me of a Nissan GT-R. The SVR receives a new front bumper and splitter, revised hood vents, a flat underfloor, reworked rear bumper, and a massive fixed rear spoiler (though you can opt to receive the deployable spoiler instead found in the other F-Type models). Our tester also came equipped with the optional carbon fibre package accentuating the hood vents and large spoiler out back for added visual presence.
The interior for this 2019 model is pretty much carried over from last year but with the updated and larger infotainment system that we have tested in other Land Rover and Jaguar models. The screen is much wider this time around and isn’t recessed deep into the console like before, which forced you to input corner screen commands awkwardly with your thumb. Lag is gone, the graphics are colourful and crispy, and it’s a system finally worthy of a premium vehicle.
The cabin design isn’t minimalistic and is rather crowded with fighter-jet inspired designs like the switch toggles and gear shifter. The rising fan vents are still a neat touch, and the dashboard is covered with suedecloth material and carbon fibre panels. It’s not as bleak or as barren as a Porsche 911 interior, and I find it visually pleasing though slightly cramped, and the lack of storage space or cubbies on the center console and behind the seats is disappointing.
It’s a good thing the trunk is a fair size, and will swallow a fair amount of groceries once the window cover is lifted off. Blind spots are excellent with a small window behind the B-pillar for aid, and visibility out the front and back is acceptable despite the small rear windscreen. The SVR-embroidered 14-way adjustable seats are visually engaging, and are more comfortable than those found in the AMG GT, and even though the headrests are a bit stiff, I would happily take this feline on a long distance journey.
The Jaguar F-Type SVR is a solid example of how to do a dramatic and rewarding sports car with the performance and handling to back it all up. I am awfully surprised there aren’t more of these on the road. Jaguar has given birth to a feral and wild alternative to the clinical and emotionally drained Porsche 911, and is brimming with character that makes it so unique in a field dominated by track times and horsepower numbers. By sound alone, the F-Type SVR is a winner, but it’s more than a one trick pony. This jungle cat, can do it all.
Model: 2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe
Paint Type: Caldera Red
Base Price: $140,500
Price as Tested: $163,200
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,475 / 1,923 / 1,311
Curb weight (kg): 1,705
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 575 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 15.6 / 10.4 / 13.3
Tires: Pirelli P Zero; Front 265/35ZR20; Rear 305/30ZR20