Jaguar F-type SVR – the 423kW, 700Nm promises a 3.7-second 0-100km/h sprint and a 322km/h top speed
Of the cars presently on sale in Australia, I cannot think of another car that is louder more of the time than this ferocious feline. A fully wound up, naturally aspirated Ferrari or Lamborghini might scream and shout at a bigger decibel count right at the top of the rev range, but the Jaguar’s idle, cruise and top-end volume is borderline antisocial most of the time. And I love it. Sure, it’s not exactly mature, and it can be a touch embarrassing (bald 40-year-old in a shouty blue convertible or orange coupe), but this kind of aural character has long been engineered or legislated out of most cars. And those cars that are chasing some sort of noise usually do so via a synthesiser. If the McLaren 540C hides its pace and power under a bushel of civility, the Jaguar is proud of its loud and announces itself at every touch of the throttle.
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The noise works is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that produces 423kW and 700Nm. If anything, that torque figure feels underquoted – the Jaguar never feels anything less than ferociously fast. Until the recent announcement of the 441kW XE SVO Project 8, the SVR was the most powerful Jaguar ever produced. And aside from the XJ220 supercar, the F-type SVR Coupe is Jaguar’s fastest, with a claimed top speed of 322km/h (200mph in the old money). And it feels every bit as quick as the 3.7-second claim to 100km/h. We tested both Coupe and Convertible and there was nothing to pick their performance apart.
The thunderous supercharged engine is coupled to a hard-working eight-speed ZF torque converter automatic gearbox that then distributes torque to all four tyres via Jaguar’s all-wheel-drive system. But with that much torque, the Jaguar rarely feels anything but very rear driven.
It’s a comparison I’ve previously drawn, but the all-wheel-drive F-type models remind me of the Nissan GT-R. Jaguar suggests that the SVR is the “ultimate all-weather supercar” a claim that Porsche’s 911 Turbo and Nissan’s GT-R might contest. Like the modern Godzilla, the Jaguar possesses plenty of traction, but it’s also a weighty beast and it’s best to stay on top of the struggle between mass and mumbo. That thought is front of mind as soon as I begin scratching at the SVR’s outer edge. On smooth tarmac, the Jaguar F-type SVR claws at the surface with its vast tyres – 265/35 ZR20 up front and 305/30 ZR20 under the tail – digging down to find bedrock on which to deploy that 700Nm torque peak. So long as you contain any momentum oversteer on the way into a corner, the rubber will allow you to unleash the SVR’s full payload on the way out. Like the GT-R, a fully hooked-up SVR is devastatingly fast, but in the case of the Jaguar, the onslaught of acceleration is accompanied by a war-cry that adds to the intensity of the building g-forces. Like Godzilla, the Jaguar is a physical car to drive fast, and you’re never lulled into forgetting the weight that you’re accelerating, braking and turning.
Away from wrinkle-free tarmac, however the Jaguar’s firm suspension struggles to curtail vertical movements and your progress is punctuated by a series of puckering lurches and skips, with the stability system blinking and trimming as tyres grip, slip and even depart terra firma. Eventually, the firmness of the rear suspension (more so in the Coupe than the Convertible), dents my confidence on typical Australian bitumen and moments to really explore the SVR’s ultimate pace are fleeting. Chasing 200km/h on anything other than very smooth tarmac is not for the faint hearted – forget 200mph.
Overcook it though, and the brakes are heroic. Both SVRs we sampled were fitted with the optional carbon ceramic rotors – 398mm fronts with six-piston monobloc calipers, 380mm rears with four-piston monobloc calipers. At $20,860 including the 20-inch forged alloys, the ceramics aren’t cheap and they represent a chunky percentage of the base pricing ($289,590 for the Coupé and $308,470 for the Convertible), but they offer good feel and a sense of security that the outrageous engine demands. Even after a series of big stops, the pedal remains high and consistent through its travel.
Speaking of options, the Jaguars wore a number of other big-ticket items (including the circa-$10,000 exterior carbonfibre pack), that pushed their pre-on-road costs beyond the unadorned price of a $325,000 McLaren 540C. Beyond the Jaguar’s temper on rougher roads, it’s the Jaguar’s plus-$300K ticket that represents its biggest challenge. They might not be direct rivals, but $300,000 also buys you a BMW M4 GTS or Nissan GT-R Nismo. For similar coin to the Jaguar, there’s also the updated 441kW BMW M6, Mercedes-AMG’s GT S and a variety of Porsche 911 variants, including the sublime GTS. As you can see, $300-large grants you access to a list of cars that offer a range of traits that really challenge the value of the Jaguar. But beyond the options that are available from rival manufacturers, it’s the offerings within the same showroom that represents the SVR’s biggest test. For around $45,000 less than either the SVR Coupe or Convertible, Jaguar will happily sell you an AWD F-type R with 404kW and 680Nm. It’s not quite as focused, nor as shouty visually or aurally, but the R is still an exceptionally quick cat. And for those with shallower pockets but deeper reserves of bravery, there are also rear-wheel-drive R variants at around $60K less than their SVR counterparts.