Jaguar touts its F-Type SVR as the all-weather supercar, and a rain-soaked Hampton Downs was a good proving ground for its massive abilities. This is one cat that doesn’t mind getting wet.
When we arrived at the Hampton Downs circuit to drive the new Jaguar F-Type SVR it was raining steadily. Out on the track a Mercedes-AMG GT S was making its way around gingerly, the soaked circuit not ideal for 650Nm deployed via the rear wheels. By the time we got behind the wheel of the AWD F-Type SVR, the all-weather supercar, it was a drying track but still slippery under foot. But it proved to be a good display of how AWD is simply unbeatable when the conditions are less than ideal.
The F-Type SVR is from JLR’s Special Vehicles Operations, the top division in the company making vehicles a bit more ‘special’. SVR is all about performance, and we’ve already had the Range Rover Sport SVR and thought it pretty special indeed. There are other arms to SVO; SVA making super luxury products like the $300k Range Rover SVAutobiography (or $352k in long wheelbase form) but we’re yet to see an off-road product from SVX. SVO currently represents under one per cent of JLR’s volume worldwide but the aim is for the SV badge to rival the likes of AMG and M some day.
As to the newest SVR arrival, the F-Type SVR, it stacks up at $240,000, with 423kW and 700Nm, the 1705kg Coupe said to hit 100km/h in 3.7sec. For comparison, the AWD R is $204,000, has 404kW and 680Nm, and the 1730kg Coupe will get to 100km/h in 4.1sec, though Leadfoot Louisson reckons it will do 3.72sec on a good day, so the SVR should be even quicker than its claimed time.
The SVR special bits include the Inconel Titanium exhaust. This lightweight superalloy is suited for high heat applications and, with smaller mufflers, the system saves 16kg over the R’s regular stainless steel plumbing. Bodywork mods improve airflow; the front end gets more holes, including bigger bonnet vents, to help cooling and reduce front lift. The quarter panel is unique too, aiding the escape of air from the wheel housing. Forged rims are lighter, saving 13.8kg all up, and are shod with special P Zeros with 295s on the front and 305s on the rear. A new rear diffuser and undertray help reduce rear lift, as does the main visual difference, the big active rear wing. The SVR gets retuned adaptive suspension and stronger knuckles are used to improve toe and camber stiffness. Inside, the special F-Type gets unique sports seats with ‘lozenge’ quilted leather. There is a $255k Convertible version too but it’s indent only as Kiwis prefer their hard core machines with a hard top.
Jaguar NZ has sold six already, and is hoping to do a further 10 over the next year. At $240k it is certainly expensive but that’s the same price that Nissan asks for its GT-R Track edition, while the 911 Turbo S starts at $412k. You can spend more on the SVR, a carbon roof is $5450, and a carbon pack dresses the bonnet vents, mirror caps, the Venturi blade and the front spoiler in CF for a further $8800. Track day fiends could opt for the carbon brakes too at $14,400, complete with yellow calipers. Dual zone climate air is an option, so too blind spot detection, which is about the only active safety feature offered -there’s no active cruise even – but at least a reversing camera is standard.
Setting out on track, we warmed to the task with a few sighting laps in Jaguar’s XE S, itself a quick road car. Once again it displayed its innate balance and fine feedback as well on the slick track. The XE resists understeer impeccibly, and answers in a speedy, predictably manner to what’s being asked. Our laps in the XE also helped highlight the benefits of AWD traction. The supercharged 3.0-litre responds quickly in Dynamic mode, and tipping in a bit early gets the traction control on the case to calm the slight wiggle from the tail. On a wet surface it’s certainly a case of squeezing the power on gently. And the XE S has a trifling 250kW and 450Nm of torque. What was the F-Type SVR going to be like with more than 400kW and 300 extra Newtons?
Well, it is called the all-weather supercar for good reason, though Porsche might rightly say it has been there for the past 20 years with its AWD 911 Turbo (30 years if you count the 959). With a swag more rubber comes the added grip in faster bends, but it’s the drive out of slower corners that really impresses, especially during our first few laps when it’s still raining. None of the SVR’s potential is lost as our driver instructor co-pilot tells us to go hard out of the tight Turn 4. Even though we don’t quite nail the gas, we’re able to get on it sooner and there’s nothing but drive up and over the hill. Next up, Turn 5 and we’re told to really nail it on the exit. Given a bootful to wide open, the big Jaguar launches jet-like down the straight, which feels much shorter than normal as we arrive in rapid fashion for the braking zone to the big sweeper.
The SVR is locked solid, the stability impressive as it resists slewing into understeer before it gets all of its power hooked up and is shooting rapidly up the front straight. A few more laps and it keeps impressing as we get on the brakes later into the bends and on the gas earlier. With Dynamic mode selected, the SVR will wriggle around a bit when pushed harder, but you can drive this very quickly and still be well within its limits. Stability is a big thing with the SVR; it’s planted under power, body movements are well subdued, and it’s also solid under hard braking, while it doesn’t take a big effort to get it turning in. Impressive too are the brakes, even the standard steel rotors holding up well and providing good stopping power, hauling the SVR down from 230km/h in utterly stable fashion.
The SVR sounds the business as we watch it thunder along the straight from pit lane later, but is somewhat subdued from the cabin. However, we were wearing a helmet, and our brain was concentrating hard on getting it around the circuit without shortening the wheelbase. There is no supercharger whine – Jaguar doesn’t do that – but you can hear the crackles and barps on the overrun, for sure. The auto box does a fine enough job in S mode that we didn’t bother paddling it along.
The SVR does a great job at going fast, and is a relative bargain amongst super Euros. Well done SVO, it’s indeed a special vehicle.
|Model||Jaguar F-Type SVR||Price||$240,000|
|Engine||5000cc, V8, SC/DI, 423kW/700Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||11.3L/100km||C02 Output||269g/km|