There are only two things that span beyond the speedboat-length bonnet of a 2018 Jaguar F-Type SVR. The first is the coupe line-up, and the second is the options list.
Where Porsche enters sportscar combat with the 718 Cayman at the lowest end and the 911 Carrera towards the top, and Mercedes-AMG tackles only the latter with its GT, Jaguar forces one coupe to charge cross a $100,000 to $300,000-plus bracket.
The F-Type SVR is the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol-engined range topper priced from $290,800 plus on-road costs. There are 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol models from about half the price and a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder from $107,012 (plus orc).
There is an obvious question here, then: is the SVR too stretched at this level, or is this justifiably the fittest and finest F-Type available?
Vehicle Style: Sports coupe Price: $290,800 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 423kW/700Nm 5.0 V8 supercharged petrol | eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 11.3 l/100km | Tested: 15.2 l/100km
Note the above specifications, and then let’s look at the sportscar landscape and see where the F-Type SVR sits. There’s the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS at $289,790 (plus orc) with a 331kW/550Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder, for a 3.7sec 0-100km/h.
The Mercedes-AMG GT S, at $298,711 (plus orc), boasts a 384kW/670Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to claim a 3.8sec 0-100km/h. And the McLaren 540C at $325,000 (plus orc) uses a 397kW/540Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 to claim 3.5sec 0-100km/h.
Audi will even do a limited edition R8 RWS at $299,500 (plus orc) with rear-drive and a 397kW/540Nm 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10, to claim a 3.7sec 0-100km/h.
So the rarefied air up here is crowded, but the F-Type SVR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 beats them for power (423kW) and torque (700Nm) while matching the 0-100km/h of the 911 and R8. It is also the only one to use all-wheel drive (available higher up on the Porsche and Audi) that results in a heaviest-here 1705kg mass.
- Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry, power windows and mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, single-zone climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats, automatic on/off wipers and LED headlights.
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, satellite navigation and 380-watt Meridian audio.
- Options Fitted: Carbon-ceramic brakes with 20-inch alloy wheels ($20,860), exterior carbonfibre package ($8810), carbonfibre roof ($5150), InControl apps with remote services ($2465), blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert ($2270), suedecloth steering wheel ($1760), power bootlid ($1130), rear-view camera ($1035), dual-zone climate control ($1010), and digital radio ($620).
Gorgeous quilted leather cloaks the SVR Performance seats of this F-Type as the only real signifier that this is a $300,000-plus model grade. There are plenty of options, as stated above, taking the as-tested pricetag of this model to $339,705 (plus orc) – but, honestly, ignore the sticker price because nobody is paying retail.
This Jaguar isn’t about blind-spot monitors and lane-departure warnings, anyway, but the suedecloth steering wheel is a nice treat that gives the rest of the cabin a much-needed lift. It skins the tops and sides of the dashboard, as well, which looks great.
Indeed if you didn’t know that essentially the same cabin kicks off at less than half the price of this flagship model grade then most buyers would be pretty happy, ridiculous options sheet aside.
There’s neither the overt flashiness and button overload of an AMG GT, for example, nor the restrained elegance of a 911 Carrera, but rather the SVR falls somewhere in between them. It is in many ways a simple, but not simplistic interior.
Sure, the touchscreen looks dated, but everything operates so well that familiarity breeds appreciation and admiration, not contempt. With a simple tile format and a brilliant 380-watt Meridian audio system, it’s breezy class.
In this age of multiple drive modes that can burden the driver with a perplexing array of options, the Jaguar has one tab each for Dynamic mode, exhaust and sport electronic stability control – dubbed TracDSC – tab. That’s it.
Along with excellent ergonomics, the seats are wonderfully supportive, the cabin is wide enough not to feel claustrophobic, the fit and finish is terrific, and the boot is reasonable if driving without the (no cost) space-saver spare wheel.
But is this a $300K cabin? Perhaps excelling at the basics just isn’t quite enough.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 423kW/700Nm 5.0 V8 supercharged petrol
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Independent front and rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
- Cargo Volume: 310 litres
Especially when this F-Type SVR is painted in Caldera Red with a carbonfibre wing, multi-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels and yellow callipers hiding behind them – courtesy of a Corolla’s value of optional carbon-ceramic brakes – bystanders stop and stare.
If a 911 Carrera GTS blends into the scenery, then this Jaguar blurts through it, backed by anti-social quad exhaust pipes that actually point up and out towards a Joe Public who will no doubt hear this coupe arriving before it is seen anyway.
Joy of joys, too, Jaguar remembers a driver’s preferences on each start up, so if the switchable exhaust is left on, then it stays on to provide an earth-shattering boom and crackle as the engine fires.
Thanks to a supercharger, rather than a turbo, this V8 provides immaculate, immediate throttle response. The engine itself delivers a riotous soundtrack of valve tingle and multi-cylinder growl that is addictive, anywhere and anytime, making Porsche’s new 3.0-litre turbo seem anonymous.
To an extent, forget the 0-100km/h claims where pushing a lot of mass off the line most matters. In the mid-range on a country road, the F-Type SVR is one of the fastest accelerating vehicles on the road. It genuinely punches a driver into the quilted leather as the eight-speed auto slams through gears.
Speaking of which, the torque converter auto is utterly sublime. There are paddles available behind the steering wheel if manual mode is used, but simply slide the lever from D to S and it provides flawless response.
When wiping off big speed in a late brake for a corner, which is entirely possible thanks to the endless carbon-ceramic’s ability, the eight-speed aggressively slams back gears of its own accord.
Then there’s another tick – creamy, smooth, crisp, direct, feelsome, fabulous steering – and they just keep coming.
Around town the two-mode adaptive suspension delivers stunning compliance and control for a sportscar on 20-inch rims – most definitely in Porsche territory – and initially on bumpy country roads it seems far from hardcore. Even in Dynamic it ‘breathes’ with the road surface and moves around its driver effortlessly.
That was until the realisation that Dynamic was set-up to have steering and suspension switched to Normal, and only engine and auto in their most aggressive. In Dynamic, gone is a hint of it not being tied down, while the steering firms up. Impressively, it can be used on a bumpy road, though Normal is preferred.
The point is, these subtle differences are both very nuanced and both brilliant in their own right. Indeed Jaguar has it all over a Mercedes-AMG GT for suspension finesse.
With 305mm-wide rear tyres and a very rear-biased variable all-wheel drive system, the SVR is also So Very Ridiculous in its speed through bends. In low-speed tight corners it feels rear-driven, but in faster, flowing sweepers it allows the throttle to be buried staggeringly early as the supercharged V8 leaps into full thrust on exit.
Handily, Porsche staged the 911 Carrera GTS launch on the same testing roads as our chosen F-Type SVR loop. Did the Jaguar feel any slower? Absolutely not.
The Jaguar F-Type has not been tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: Jaguar includes free scheduled servicing for the F-Type over five years or 130,000km
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The 540C is damn fast and a brilliant entry into McLaren ownership. Only a back-to-back could separate these two.
An easier case can be made against the Mercedes-AMG GT S and Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. Frankly, the F-Type offers the finesse lacking the former and the character – all down to the engine – lacking in the latter. Both are excellent options, but the SVR forms a sweet spot between them.
There is a wild car here, though, and that’s the new 911 GT3 Touring. With a howling naturally aspirated flat six-cylinder and only two seats like the model tested here, it’s the lighter, spritelier choice over this heavily optioned Brit.
McLaren 540C Mercedes-AMG GT S Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Porsche 911 GT3 Touring
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Make that three things that span beyond the speedboat-length bonnet of a 2018 Jaguar F-Type SVR, then. The third is the diverse range of abilities that see this flagship model grade play both hardcore corner carver and stylish, luxury GT.
Expensive it may be, but it is a model brimming with urban character yet comfort. Extend its legs, however, and it is wickedly fast in a straight line or through corners, without being so aggressive that it can’t be driven on bumpy, pitchy coarse chip.
Outside it looks expensive and exotic, though inside the game has moved on at this price. At least servicing is thrown in for free, although resale is a worry.
This is a brilliant sportscar that justifies stretching across segments to these lofty reaches, but whether buyers of the elite rivals agree is another matter entirely.
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