Pushy Pussycat

Jaguar’s fiercest feline is even more assertive in SVR specification.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Jaguar’s fiercest feline is even more assertive in SVR specification.
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JAGUAR has had a real renaissance in recent years, having taken the fight straight to the Germans. But the Brits didn’t have an answer to Germany’s performance divisions, and could only look on as Mercedes-AMG, BMW M GmbH and Audi Sport cranked out some pretty aweinspiring motors.

Now, Jaguar has provided an answer – SVO, short for Special Vehicle Operations.

SVO extends Jaguar Land Rover’s quest for success to the upper end of the premium- performance spectrum.

So far, the revved-up new department has created four special models – Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport SVR and Range Rover SV Autobiography, and Jaguar’s Project 7 (see sidebar on pg 71) and F-Type SVR, the subject of this review.

Extreme machines coming out of JLR’s SVO have the initials SV added to their model names, with SVR used for the highestperformance vehicles, whereby R ostensibly stands for Racing.

Jaguar really needed a halo product to crown the F-Type range, and SVO was charged with making something even better than the F-Type R, which only last year was offered with optional all-wheel-drive.

The F-Type R already packs a 5-litre 550bhp supercharged V8. For about 15 percent more moolah, the F-Type SVR adds 25bhp more power and 20Nm more torque, plus a new set of bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres, uprated suspension (with its rear components massively strengthened), an active aerodynamic wing, a rear valance with more aggressive venturis, and a deeper chin spoiler. 

Cockpit has fewer “go-faster” tweaks than the exterior, but those quilt- patterned seats and suede trimmings are fantastic.
Cockpit has fewer “go-faster” tweaks than the exterior, but those quilt- patterned seats and suede trimmings are fantastic.
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In addition, the chassis has been lightened by 25-50kg, with the weight loss depending on the chosen options, which include ceramic brakes.

The stability/ traction control systems have also been recalibrated. The result on the road is remarkable, considering the car has just 25bhp more power and 25kg less weight, with gearbox internals and final drive unchanged.

The F-Type SVR accelerates to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds, which is four-tenths of a second quicker than the F-Type R AWD.

I asked the SVR’s engineers about the amazing, almost half-second improvement in the F-Type’s century sprint. They replied that it’s largely due to the superior traction afforded by the new P Zeros and the fine optimisation of the traction control.

The F-Type SVR’s headline performance figure is 200mph, which is a big benchmark in imperial terms. Translated to metric, the speed is 321.8km/h, which puts the fast Jag in the elite 300km/h+ club.

In fact, it’s the fastest production Jag right now, even faster than the F-Type R that can reach a top speed of 300km/h. The even higher top speed is made possible by the SVR version’s zero-lift, reduced-drag aerodynamics package.

On the open roads of Barcelona, the car rides rather well in its Normal drive mode and gets a bit more knobbly in Dynamic mode, but it’s never uncomfortable.

To get the complete control necessary for a properly quick performance, you need to be in Dynamic mode, which brings along a ferocious and almost deafening V8 soundtrack that will put a Harley-Davidson to shame.

The valves in the titanium exhaust system open and allow pops and crackles to punctuate the air, while the electrically assisted power steering gains more sharpness and the electronic nanny turns a blind eye to proceedings (but isn’t totally disabled). In terms of naughtiness, the Dynamic mode is hard to beat.

This is a track-ready sports car that entertains the keen driver and accelerates aggressively, all the way to 322km/h.
This is a track-ready sports car that entertains the keen driver and accelerates aggressively, all the way to 322km/h.
"The F-Type SVR is even racier than the R-Type R."
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Projectile Project

The F-Type Project 7 is a hardcore, street-legal roadster that pays homage to the D-Type, which scored seven Le Mans wins. Jaguar’s SVO division made just 250 units of its limited- edition special Project, whose 575bhp power output, 80kg weight reduction, unique suspension tuning, carbon-ceramic brakes and customised aerodynamic aids previewed the tech specs of the F-Type SVR.

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"Jaguar’s fiercest feline has the performance to match its appearance. "

The all-wheel-drive system, called Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD), is not the permanently engaged kind, but a pro-active on-demand setup that remains mostly rear-wheel-drive, until the system deems there’s a need for all four wheels to be driven. Then it diverts 20-50 percent of the torque to the front in a variable manner, according to the traction requirements and without interruption.

This makes the F-Type SVR feel like a rear-drive machine most of the time and maximises the advantages of AWD.

At Spain’s Motorland Aragon circuit, I’m treated to the full 1.7km straight that allows me to touch 300km/h just before braking for a third-gear corner. This is mighty impressive for any sports car.

Over the very challenging course, the F-Type SVR shows its mettle, with poised four-wheel drifts as the stability control shuffles the power to the front wheels in order to prevent snap oversteer. I’m not able to get the same tail-out antics of the RWD variants, but over an unfamiliar road and with inclement weather, the AWD is an asset.

Moreover, it is not the typical understeering type of AWD – with a bit of coaxing, it moves nicely to a neutral balance.

The good news is, Jaguar hasn’t made a track-day car, but rather a track-ready sports car. The F-Type SVR focusses on entertainment value, with its epic soundtrack and affable behaviour on serpentine roads. Yet, it is not overly loud, both literally and figuratively.

In summary, Jaguar’s fiercest feline yet has the powerful performance to match its appearance, rides very comfortably considering the handling capabilities, and behaves impeccably when driven gently.

The capable and hugely desirable 575bhp F-Type SVR, available as a coupe or convertible, is proof that Jaguar’s SVO department can deliver something special for the petrolhead weaned on German high performance..