The F-Type SVR revives Jaguar’s sports heritage
Posted May 30, 2017
Jaguar has traveled through three distinct design periods throughout its 75-year history. Early years were defined by stylish cars and race victories; especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Then, there was the more recent, unremittingly retro era during Ford’s ownership from 1990 to 2008. Today, with generous funding and flexibility from its India parent, Tata, Jaguar has entered into an age of fully competitive luxury models.
When Jaguar first replaced the XK with the F-Type, instead of connecting to the company’s proud heritage with diluted retro styling, the new model was a two-seat reincarnation of the iconic E-Type. It’s exactly what Jaguar’s founder, Sir William Lyons, would have produced — a modern, fast sports car that, at around $125,000 (depending on model), is relatively affordable compared with the competition.
The newest additions for 2018 are a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder model making an impressive 296 horsepower, and a limited edition 400 Sport variant that squeezes another 60 HP from the 3.0-liter, supercharged V6. Further up the line, the 5.0-liter, supercharged F-Type R V8 cooks up 550 HP. We drove the limited edition SVR version, which lets loose with 575 horses. Both V8 offerings are all-wheel drive to firmly plant the prodigious power. Jaguar is one of the few automakers that still offers a real manual transmission on some F-Type models, although my view is that the Quickshift 8-speed automatic is a better performance choice than the 6-speed, clutch-operated gearbox.
Jaguar made a move to aluminum construction more than a decade ago. The F-Type SVR is lighter than either the Mercedes SL63 AMG or Audi R8, with power that rivals either German machine. And when you add carbon ceramic brakes and carbon fiber options, it will compete comfortably at the racetrack. The special SVR we drove barked with attitude through the four-pipe titanium exhaust system. This is definitely not a posing boulevard cruiser.
Arriving in Atlanta to pick up a colleague and a Glacier White F-Type SVR, I was dazzled by its attention-grabbing racing graphics, just in case the car wasn’t un-subtle enough for police cruisers. Our task was to get to Florida’s Amelia Island classic car show. The journey was a nice mixture of mostly country roads and a few highways, giving us an opportunity to stretch the F-Type without donning an orange race suit.
During the long drive at speed as well as striking a pose in Amelia Island Concours traffic, the F-Type experience was splendid. This is a real sports car that can accelerate and handle with the best of the six-figure breed, but can also transport occupants in luxury, quiet enough at speed to enjoy the Meridian sound system. I think that’s the kind of sports luxury balance just right for today’s buyers. Brian Douglas
Photography by Brian Douglas