By Wayne Cunningham - Roadshow by CNET
Fast thrills and sublime comfort in Jaguar's powerful roadster
There should be few experiences more enjoyable than racing down a mountain highway in the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible with the top down on a warm summer day. Except for a pickup truck in front of me, spewing soot out of the tailpipe whenever it accelerates.
I keep my distance until a straightaway comes up, then cross over the dashed line and unleash the 575-horsepower fury of the F-Type SVR's supercharged V8, sport exhaust turned on for maximum effect.
The pickup truck tries to accelerate, but it appears to be standing still as I blast by, emerging from its final cloud of exhaust like Superman rescuing Lois Lane from a burning building. I give a moment's thought to Jaguar's engine tuning and technology, which gives the F-Type SVR such tremendous power while also earning an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) rating from the California Air Resources Board.
And then I'm back to enjoying this gorgeous and powerful convertible, testing its suspension and all-wheel drive through a set of hard turns and very happy I left that pickup truck far behind.
Jaguar's F-Type may be the ultimate gentleman's sports car, and gentlewoman if you want to update the lingo, showing off classic roadster proportions, luxury cabin appointments and a comfortable ride that doesn't interfere with excellent handling.
For the F-Type SVR, Jaguar cranks the performance up to 11, wringing just about every iota out of engine, transmission and suspension. Personally, I like the lines of the F-Type SVR Coupe a little better, but Jaguar loaned us the Convertible version for a week, and I'm not one to complain. The F-Type SVR Convertible sacrifices a little cargo space compared with the Coupe, but both versions only seat two.
At 575 horsepower from its supercharged 5.0-liter direct-injection V8, the F-Type SVR rates 25 more than the next up in the lineup, the F-Type R. Both come standard with all-wheel drive, while Jaguar says it tuned the SVR's eight-speed automatic transmission for quicker shifts. If you prefer three-pedal driving, you will have to step down to the F-Type S, which can be had with a manual transmission.
What most impresses me about the F-Type SVR is how it can feel stiff and comfortable at the same time. It manages to mute vibration even on rough back roads, letting me enjoy the beautiful diamond upholstery on seats and door panels, along with the excellent audio quality from the Meridian-branded 12 speaker 770-watt audio system.
That stiff suspension contributes hugely to handling, so that I don't even feel the corner braking system, which slightly brakes the inside wheel during a turn. Likewise, the F-Type SVR's all-wheel drive splits torque 63 percent to the rear and 37 percent to the front, which is difficult to feel on a dry road. However, the car's obvious competence in hard cornering makes driving a twisty road into a sublime experience.
The carbon fiber wing on the F-Type SVR can be had in this fixed configuration, or in a retractable version that adds a little weight.
Switching between Auto and Dynamic modes makes for a palpable difference in power, as the transmission keeps the revs running above 3,000. The Auto mode, however, tries to gauge what I want out of the car, so also makes the transmission maintain power when I'm frequently digging into the throttle and braking hard.
Ostensibly an automatic transmission, the F-Type SVR changes gears as quickly and precisely as a dual-clutch transmission.
Roadshow editor Jon Wong drove the F-Type SVR on the Motorland Aragon Circuit in Teruel, Spain, during a Jaguar-sponsored event. He says,
The 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR's supercharged V8 isn't too thirsty for such a powerful engine. Stupendous cornering grip and a stiff chassis don't compromise everyday comfort.
The F-Type SVR's infotainment system doesn't support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and seems a little outdated in general.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Any of the 2017 Jaguar F-Type line will satisfy for aesthetics, but the F-Type SVR rises above them all when it comes to power output and handling expertise. Just don't expect the most modern in cabin electronics.