The Jaguar F-Type is one of the my favourite cars in the world.
In fact, I like the F-Type so much that I nearly swayed Senior Correspondent Matt DeBord into handing the Jag Business Insider’s Car of the Year award back in 2014 instead of the game-changing Corvette Stingray.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of spending hundreds of miles behind the wheel of roughly half a dozen different versions of the British sports car — ranging from V6 engined coupes with an old-school stick shift to V8 powered convertibles.
For the most part, my F-Type experiences have been flawless — except one.
About two years ago, I drove an all-wheel-drive F-Type R coupe. Even though I loved its Ian Callum-sculpted bodywork, muscle-bound supercharged V8 engine, and mind-bending exhaust note, the Jag’s driving dynamics felt dull and lifeless. The joyfulness and exuberance that has long been a signature piece of the F-Type experience was gone. The culprit was the all-wheel-drive system.
Fast forward two years and I’m once again behind the wheel of an all-wheel-drive F-Type — this time in the form of a 2017 SVR.
The F-Type SVR is the work of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations or SVO — the company’s in-house workshop tasked with developing its ultra-luxury or high-performance cars.
And what a job the SVO has done.
For the SVR edition, Jag’s Skunk Works pumped up the F-Type’s monster 5.0 litre, supercharged V8 with an extra 25 horsepower to push its rating to 575hp. The SVR also gets enlarged air-intakes, revised charge air coolers, and an Inconel titanium exhaust system which reduces back pressure and cuts 35 pounds from the car. Furthermore, Jaguar optimised the SVR’s aerodynamics with a redesigned front bumper, splitter, new under-body, rear venturi tunnels and an active carbon fibre rear spoiler. With the use of carbon fibre body panels and the carbon ceramic matrix brakes, the SVR can be as much as 11o pounds lighter than the regular F-Type.
However, the adjustment that made the most significant difference in the way the SVR drives is the re-engineered Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) software that controls the all-wheel-drive system. In previous iterations of AWD F-Types, the IDD dominated the driving experience — giving it an artificial feel that’s akin to that of a video game. While capable of delivering incredible speed and performance, the system removed all of the subtlety and nuance that made the sports car fun.
In the SVR, the reworked IDD now mimics the feel of a rear-wheel-drive car with the system’s all-wheel-drive traction ready to pounce at a moment’s notice like an ever-present safety net.
At New York’s Montecello Motor Club, the SVR took to the race track like a fish to water. In the twisty bits, the Jag’s active aerodynamics and adjustable suspension kept the car planted and stable. When pushed hard in corner, you can actually feel the rear end push out only to be brought back into line by the all-wheel-drive system. Exiting the bend, the SVR’s 575 ponies come to life as the car’s quick-shifting 8-speed automatic makes its way trough the gears. Speed happens with great immediacy along with a Grammy-worth soundtrack of pops and burbles that emanate from its quad exhausts.
According to Jaguar, the totality of these changes result in a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph — making the SVR the fastest production model from the company since its underappreciated 213 mph, XJ220 supercar.
On the winding roads of rural New Jersey, the SVR felt equally at home. The F-Type’s leather-lined interior felt cosy and comfortable while the muscular V8 engine effortlessly chewed up the miles.
All of this performance and capability does come at a price. The 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR starts at $US125,950. Our option-laden test car, though, came in at more than $US145,000.
Although it’s far from cheap, the F-Type SVR offers true supercar performance with grand touring comfort and British style at a sub-supercar price.
But for me, the SVR keeps the Jaguar F-Type as one of truly great sports cars money can buy.
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