2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Review: Jaguar Still Has Its Wild Side
Jaguar wants to pretend it’s staying serious, if only for a moment. Except the bright-blue, 575-horsepower two-passenger sports car we’re driving suggests the British luxury brand still has an especially wicked sense of humor.
The 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe is the fastest serial production model in the brand’s entire history, thanks to the car’s official top speed of 200 miles per hour. Only the extremely rare XJ220 supercar tops it – by exactly 17 miles per hour. However, the “serial production” part disqualifies Jag’s own 1990s exotic car from the SVR’s “asterisked” bragging record.
Powered by a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 engine that feeds power to all four wheels, the F-Type SVR driving experience is dominated by the sound and power of its motor. Accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour takes approximately 3.5 seconds and, for a cool $12-grand, a huge set of carbon ceramic brakes hauls you to a stop as fiercely as the car just rocketed down the road.
Boy is this car blue! You don’t have to order the “Ultra Blue” paint job that was applied to our test car, though you can’t argue the SVR doesn’t wear this wild hue beautifully. A silver or black paint job would be more modest and under-the-radar, of course. Problem is, not much about the F-Type SVR’s exterior comes across as being anything close to bashful.
A set of 20-inch alloy wheels is wrapped in wide Pirelli P Zero tires, which have been customized specifically for the performance needs of the SVR. Behind those rims, you’ll spot the huge yellow brake calipers of the optional carbon ceramic brakes. We’ll get to how they feel later, but as you can see, they also make quite the styling statement.
The jury is still out on some other exterior modifications. Larger front air intakes help cool the brakes and engine, so that’s a good thing. That fixed rear spoiler at the rear does look pretty “boy racer,” even if it does make a significant impact toward reducing drag and lift, especially at high speeds. A rear diffuser is flanked by two pairs of exhaust pipes which look – and sound – like Howitzers pointing out of the Jag’s tail.
Exterior pros and cons
+ Taut lines and petite proportions make this Jaguar sports car look ready for a fight.
+ Some details are spot-on, including the 20-inch wheels and quad exhaust.
– British Racing Green isn’t offered, but “Firesand” orange makes the cut? Come on, Jaguar.
– Rear wing looks a little too much like the appendage affixed to your cousin’s aftermarket Honda Civic.
That sums up the power, performance, sound, and snarl of this 575 horsepower V8. Driving purists might wish that the full fury of the F-Type SVR was available in rear-wheel-drive format, or with the six-speed manual found on F-Types powered by the base V6 engine. Folks, get over it, because the all-wheel-drive hardware and eight-speed automatic do an incredible job of keeping the SVR manageable despite it being so incredibly quick.
Aluminum paddle-shifters on the steering wheel allow you to click your way through the gears, if you like. We did this mainly to make the supercharged V8 howl and scream even louder, especially in tunnels or beneath overpasses. The SVR only has an edge of 25 horsepower and 14 pound-feet of torque over the current F-Type R model. Is that worth a premium of approximately $20,000, with the SVR variant starting at $125,950 (excluding destination charge)?
Your brain would say no. Your heart would suggest otherwise.
Powertrain pros and cons
+ One of the best sounding engines on the planet, case closed.
+ Crazy fast but not a killer. The F-Type SVR lets you play without feeling on the edge all the time.
– A lot of extra money for 25 additional horsepower.
– AWD and an automatic gearbox are part of the deal with every SVR. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on what you like in a sports car of this caliber.
If you need unlimited headroom, go with the Convertible. For extra cargo capacity, the Coupe is the winner. The rear hatchback of our SVR Coupe is accommodating for a sports car; we stored a weekend’s worth of gear in the 11 cubic-foot trunk, though we made certain to go easy when it came time to buying souvenirs. This isn’t a car you buy for luggage space.
It’s also cozy for the driver and passenger, too. Anyone above average height might want to try an SVR on for size, before signing a check and handing it over. All the major controls are within easy reach, primarily because there isn’t a ton of room in the cabin. The temperature adjustments are easy to control, via round knobs at the bottom of the center console.
Yet the F-Type is one step behind Jag’s latest infotainment systems found in the F-Pace and XE. Juggling the navigation and radio settings on the fly could be frustrated by the system’s clunky inputs.
Interior pros and cons
+ Driver-focused cockpit that matches the car’s performance agenda.
– Cozy for tall drivers and overall luggage space is at a premium.
– Infotainment system’s speed and user-friendliness lags behind the competition.
Tech and safety
Many of the things we love in the standard F-Type apply to the SVR. An active exhaust system lets you crank up the engine note whenever you like. We almost always left it in the loudest setting, thank you very much.
The all-wheel-drive system qualifies as a safety feature, considering how much performance is available in this short-wheelbase sports car. Torque is transferred to the front and rear wheels, as needed. Brakes with side-to-side torque vectoring also help propel the F-Type around corners as quickly as possible.
Those insanely expensive carbon ceramic stoppers also trim weight. Combined with a titanium exhaust system, 20-inch alloys, and optional carbon fiber roof (not fitted to our test car), the SVR weighs about 110 pounds less than the F-Type R.
Tech pros and cons
+ All-wheel-drive is there to keep things under control
– All this tech and hardware adds up – the SVR weighs nearly 3,800 pounds even with the lightweight options added in.
Most our time with the F-Type SVR was on public roads, during a fantastic drive to the historic Watkins Glen racetrack. Despite the long drive, the F-Type’s suspension and steering isn’t punishing or tiring. On the highway, even that booming engine settles into a mellow purr. Ugh, did we just mention “purr” in a Jaguar review? Someone call the cliche police, please.
Arriving at our destination, the track itself was primarily devoted to an exhibition of classic racing cars, though we did get the opportunity to experience some SVR hot laps on this scenic and sweeping circuit.
Interestingly, the SVR was more impressive on the street. Under heavy braking, the car felt light and skittish, despite its hunkered-down aluminum double-wishbone suspension at each corner. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system lets you put the power down fast and hard out of bends, though you rarely feel like the process of hard braking, steering, and punching the gas pedal works as seamlessly as it should.
The electric power-assisted steering does a fine job of pointing the F-Type where you want it, except you don’t get a lot of feedback through your fingertips. Again, this is something that a normal road-trip doesn’t unmask, and the SVR handled some seriously slippery roads with ease during our time with the car.
Perhaps most surprising is the $12,000 barbecue we experienced after several laps of Watkins Glen. Now, truth be told, your author has always been something of a banzai-late-braker, to the detriment of an aborted racing career (I’ll admit it!). But brakes of this size – and price – shouldn’t be smoking in the pit-lane after three laps.
Will many F-Type SVR owners use their car on a track? Maybe not. But this car had us convinced a closed circuit would bring out the best in it. We were wrong.
Wrap up and review
With Jaguar pushing into new territory with the F-Pace SUV and XE compact sport sedan, it’s nice to see the company still has time to build crazy, sexy-fast sports cars. The F-Type SVR is a bellowing beast that establishes a new benchmark for the brand when it comes to performance.
While the $125K base price is very steep, direct rivals from Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, and Mercedes-Benz can cost tens of thousands more. In fact, we think the closest direct competitor is probably the similarly British – and totally seductive – Aston Martin Vantage V8. Like the F-Type, the main themes of this old-school Aston are speed and style. That works for us, even if buff books insist on comparing the F-Type to its German rivals.
We personally don’t see many buyers cross-shopping the accomplished but more clinical Porsche 911 with an F-Type SVR. They’re two very different cars, with two different methods of going about their business. It’s a shame the Jag didn’t wow us on the track like we expected. It wasn’t slow, for goodness sake! But the skittish behavior under braking didn’t inspire tons of confidence.
This is still an incredibly fun car to drive, a pocket-sized supercar that bodes well for Jaguar’s future. The company is betting big on its newest volume models, though the devil-may-care spirit of the company is best represented by the F-Type in all its performance guises.