Jaguar F-Type review: To Paris and back in the 200mph SVR
Jaguar has gone from a sleepy giant to a genuinely exciting brand, and that transformation is partly down to cars like the new Jaguar F-Type. Sure, Jaguar’s entry to Formula E, the electric I-Pace and the new F-Pace have helped, but the F-Type is the jewel in the crown of the Jaguar model range. And the Jaguar F-Type SVR represents the jewel in the jewel in the crown…
Basically, the F-Type SVR is the fastest, most aggressive Jaguar you can buy right now. With snarling twin exhausts, carbon-fibre bodywork and the ability to reach 200mph at full gallop, the F-Type SVR is an incredible car on paper. But what is it actually like to drive? To find out, I drove one to Paris and back, and managed to catch the Formula E ePrix in the French capital, too.
Jaguar F-Type review: Design
For the past few years, Jaguar’s design has been a bit hit and miss. The XKR was ugly, with weird, misshapen front lights and a rear that looked as though it belonged on something half the price. And then there was the XJ, another car that seemed like a poor imitation of the car it should’ve been.
The F-Type, however, is an incredible-looking car, achieving the perfect balance between homage (to the original E-Type) and fresh new design. The shape of the F-Type’s rear LED lights echo that of the 60s icon and, at the front, the car’s oval grille also reflects the nose of what’s widely regarded as one of the best-designed cars of all time.
But the standard F-Type has its own style too. Its long, swooping bonnet hints at the power that lies beneath and, from its slick front lights to its shapely rear, the F-Type is a modern classic.
The F-Type SVR, however, turns things up to 11, adding a range of distinctly modern design flourishes to the standard Coupe. Unlike the original F-Type, which has a neat double exhaust, the SVR doubles that to a brawny four and adds a huge carbon-fibre wing for extra downforce.
The front of the car is dotted with extra elements designed to push the car down, and whether it takes away or adds to the original F-Type is down to opinion. Oh, and the model I drove even had a carbon-fibre roof, weighing 20% less than the standard aluminum roof.
Jaguar F-Type review: Infotainment
Inside, the new F-Type SVR isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it marks a solid step over previous Jaguars I’ve driven. As before, the F-Type SVR’s Touch Pro infotainment system features an 8in capacitive touchscreen as standard, but it does come with improved performance.
The Navigation Pro satnav isn’t the best I’ve ever used, but it did work significantly faster than the XE I tested last year, and it proved extremely useful when navigating the convoluted Parisian streets. It issued directions in a prompt and clear fashion, and the map-browse function is responsive enough that you can drag around without grinding your teeth to stumps in frustration.
Aside from snappier performance, Touch Pro looks unchanged on the new F-Type, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Even though it has sped up and is smoother to use, Jaguar’s UI still feels a little behind the competition and, frankly, I’m waiting for Touch Pro Duo system on the new Range Rover Velar to make the leap to Jaguar cars.
For example, there wasn’t even an optional heads-up display (HUD), nor anything like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit; it just feels a little dated. The steering wheel and the general style of the cockpit feels a touch old-fashioned, too, and not as fresh and open as the technology in the Volvo V90, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series or Audi A5. Instead, you have to make do with a small 5in display nestled between the dials that, while useful, feels a little low-tech.
The F-Type’s standard Meridian soundsystem, on the other hand, packs a huge punch. With ten speakers and 380 watts, the F-Type’s soundsystem delivered solid bass, a vibrant, energetic mid-range and crystal-clear highs – and it delivers everything from bass-focused music such as Sub Focus to grungier tracks like Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” with authority, precision and impressive scale. If that’s not enough, a further £990 will get you the Meridian Surround soundsystem, which comes with two extra speakers and just over double the wattage.
Jaguar F-Type review: Drive
The Jaguar F-Type looks like a race car for the road, and on paper it certainly has the specs. A 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds, a top speed of 200mph and 575 PS from a 5-litre V8 says it all. However, it’s probably more of a GT than anything else. Just a very fast one.
Most of the time, it’s a mild-mannered thing; as long as you keep the pedal position shallow, not much happens. Push it down a little more, however, and the Jaguar’s 5-litre V8 will pin you to your seat. The ceramic brakes are just as ridiculous and can send you flying towards the windscreen if you step on them hard enough. Steering is relatively direct, too, but it’s not as agile as, say, a Nissan GT-R or BMW i8.
The Jaguar F-Type isn’t particularly precise, then – a blunt instrument rather than a precision tool – but it’s excessively loud and a whole lot of fun. On country roads, its four-wheel drive and huge downforce give it huge amounts of aerodynamic and mechanical grip, and the roar of its V8 engine is so, so satisfying.
But it’s not all fun, because Jaguar has also managed to fit some more mundane tech in the SVR. Alongside simple cruise control, you’ll also find lane-departure warning, lane-keeping technology and blind-spot warnings. Autonomous braking and parking assistance is also available on the F-Type, although I never had to use either in Paris, thankfully.
Jaguar F-Type review: Verdict
The standard F-Type is one of the best-looking sports cars on the road today, and the SVR represents the most extreme version of its formula. Bits of carbon, excessive exhausts and an obscene engine note set this car apart and, when you hear and feel everything that it can do, you’ll be very impressed indeed.
However, there’s just one catch: the standard F-Type costs just £49,900 and looks arguably better. It doesn’t have all the power or agility of the SVR, but its design is cleaner and less cluttered, so it still looks fantastic on the outside – and can be specced up on the inside, too.
If you want the best of the best, though, and you’re not bothered about it being confused with a car half its price, by all means get the F-Type SVR. It’s a full-fat, full-caffeine beast of a car and, although it’s not of the fastest nor the most precise cars on the road, it’s certainly one of the most exciting.
Price (as tested): £113,285