Review: 2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
It’s feral. It’s demonic. It’s the freakin’ apocalypse in V8 form.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: Monstrous power and sound, astounding looks
- What’s Bad: Steering could be more precise, holy moly it’s pricey
It never gets old. The throbbing, crackling, barking and altogether banshee-like report through the titanium Inconel exhaust of the Jaguar F-Type SVR is likely a pox to many, but a sign of all that is good in the world of the modern motorcar. It’s not the low-bass rumble you get from say a BMW 8 Series or Mustang, though; it doesn’t quite hit you in the chest so much as it hits you in the ears and cranium.
Sure; it’s been a round for awhile now and it’s almost a cliché, but Jaguar practically made it a cliché when they closed Manhattan’s Park Avenue during the car’s North American launch at the 2016 New York Auto Show just so us lucky journalists could rip through there in pre-production SVRs so we could really hear what they were capable of. Plus, sometimes a cliché can be a good thing.
Either way; coupled with the extreme styling that looks like little else not just in the sport car segment, but in the production auto world as a whole, the F-Type SVR makes no bones about its performance intentions. The two-tone rims hiding yellow brake calipers (denoting the existence of the optional carbon ceramic brake system, a juicy $13,260 upgrade), massive carbon rear wing (standard, along with an adjustable secondary wing), carbon fibre wing mirrors, hood louvres, rollover bars, carbon fibre front and rear splitters, quad exhaust outlets with SVR stenciled into ‘em and of course that glorious Madagascar Orange paint ($4,590, plus another $5,100 for the satin matte finish) make this particular Jag a visual highlight reel that would look good parked on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of the Monte Carlo Casino or on your favorite race track. Make no mistake: this Jaguar is styled to present itself as a sports car that can compete with the best in the biz, from the Porsche 911 to the Audi R8.
A quick note in the coupe v convertible vein: usually I’d say the opposite but when it comes to the F-Type, I think the drop top is the one I’d have. Even with the soft top up, it just looks so purposeful and unique and for some reason, that uniqueness just doesn’t fully make the jump to the coupe. I guess you could say that’s not entirely unique, for the F-Type looks to the E-Type/XKE of the ‘60s and ‘70s for inspiration and the drop-top version of that car was the better looker, too. With the F-Type, there’s something about the way the tail comes to a bit of a taper over those great quad pipes. It just shows that much more without the roofline styling to distract you.
Inside, it’s a little more subdued, especially since my tester didn’t have either the carbon fibre package or the suede steering wheel. It’s almost all tuxedo-black in here, which isn’t really a bad thing because it’s a look at how performance and handling are all big business for this particular F-Type and you can keep the flashy interior distractions.
There’s a bit of tech, too; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and the way the displays on the climate controls dials change depending on what you want to do – adjust the seat temp, or adjust the climate temp – is a neat take on minimizing interior fussiness. My car’s optional Meridian sound system, meanwhile, works hard to compete with the exhaust note and wind noise, but you will have to crank it with the top down. Certain convertibles change the way sound is projected once you drop the top, but I really couldn’t tell if there was much of a change here.
Whatever; as soon as you fire up that engine, you have all the sensory assault you’ll need. It’s so loud, this thing, that you do have to wonder if they’ve mistakenly forgotten the silencers and just cut a bunch of pipes straight from the headers on back. It’s feral. It’s demonic. It’s the freakin’ apocalypse in V8 form, and holy moly if it doesn’t get your juices flowing – whether at 6 AM or 6 PM – then maybe fast, vocal cars aren’t really for you.
Of course, with that much noise you don’t want to stand on ceremony for too long – indeed, you can’t stand on ceremony for too long; I mean, if it sounds like that when it’s idling, how the heck is it going to sound once you tickle that throttle?
It actually kind of hurts, to be honest – at first, anyway because you’re ears just aren’t prepared for all that booming and crackling that greets you once you set off, especially if you’ve either activated the extra loud exhaust with the press of a button, or selected “Dynamic” mode via the toggle switch to the left of the shift lever. In addition to changing the throttle response and the shift programming, this also activates the loud exhaust.
Which, it has to be said, is about right considering just how bloody fast this thing is. Being the SVR, it’s available only with AWD, which means that in addition to that massive V8 power, you have all four wheels doing the work on launch to carry down the road. The 0-100 km/h dash is done in under four seconds (if you have the minerals to keep on it, of course) and you’ll make it well past 300 km/h if you have the room (and not the restrictions) to do it. Remember when the McLaren F1 was a big deal for doing the sprint in 3.6 seconds? My, how far we’ve come. That was as close as you’d come to a “hypercar” back then; the SVR is a sports car today, and just look at those figures. This is some manic acceleration that is not something I ever would have thought about when thinking of Jag before the F-Type arrived, unless you’re talking about the XJ220 supercar.
Of course, at this level, speed is one thing but if you’re going to go after 911s and R8s – I mean really go after them – you need to handle yourself in the bends, too.
For the SVR, the rear-biased AWD helps as it’s able to shuffle power around when needed to ensure that the wheels that are in best communication with the road get as much of the power as possible. The result is a car that is a very point-and-shoot affair, with precious little slip even in Dynamic mode. Which, I guess, is a bit of a shame in that part of the fun of a front-engined V8 monster like this is being able to swing that tail ‘round from time to time. That can be done here, but it takes work as the traction control nannies are surprisingly active. In the end, that’s likely a good thing, though, as it’s an incredibly responsive chassis as a result – with one caveat.
While the chassis is great at communicating through your butt once turn-in commences, the time it takes for turn-in to commence is a little more than I’d like, considering the obvious high-performance intentions of the rest of the SVR experience. The off-centre deadzone is just a little too present for me – even in Dynamic mode – and that becomes even more glaring when everything else is just so darn responsive.
Which, it has to be said, makes the steering a little easier to forgive. How you feel about the 175-grand you’d have to spend on my (nearly – yes, nearly) loaded tester is a bit of a different story, because now you’re not just engineered to perform like the best of the best, you’re almost priced that way, though an R8 Spyder will still set you back a further 30 grand. You’re right in the ballpark of the likes of the 911 4S Cabriolet, and likely where you’ll be when the BMW M8 Convertible arrives later this year.
Heady company to be sure, but if all else fails, at least with the SVR they’ll know you’re coming.
2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
Body style: 2-seat soft-top convertible
Configuration: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive
Engine: 5.0L V8, supercharged; 575 hp @ 6,500 rpm; Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
Cargo capacity: 207L
Observed fuel economy: 14.4L/100 km
Price: $144,700 (base), as tested $178,702
Website: Jaguar F-Type