Jaguar F-Type SVR: beauty meets the beast

There's no question about it, I'd been looking forward to driving the Jaguar F-Type SVR for months. 

A mixture of excitement and nerves - this is the most expensive and powerful car I've ever driven - mixed together as I climbed into the driving seat in the middle of Paris. 

Having never driven in the French capital, but with plenty of bum-clenchingly dicey taxi journeys across the city to my name, it's safe to say part of me wished I was starting this 300 mile road trip in the quiet Wiltshire countryside.

We drove

Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe
Engine: 5.0 liter V8
Power output: 575PS
Max speed: 200mph
0-60mph: 3.5 seconds
Fuel efficiency: 25mpg
Price: from £110,880

Those initial nerves were soon put to rest though, as I placed my foot on the brake and pressed the start-stop button on the center console. 

Now, I'd enjoyed the rumble of the exhaust when I drove the V8 Ford Mustang, but the F-Type SVR is a noise on a whole other level. 

The V8 sprung to life, the exhaust cleared its throat and I clicked the automatic gearbox to drive. Watch out Paris, I was coming for you.

Special Vehicle Operations

This isn't your standard F-Type. SV in the SVR name stands for Special Vehicle (Operations) - Jaguar’s in-house tuning division that adds more power and improved aerodynamics to its standard line of cars. 

What it means for the F-Type is a 5.0 litre V8 engine producing up to 575 horsepower, a max speed of 200mph and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds. 

It's Jaguar’s most powerful F-Type ever, and boy is it fun to drive. 

The SVR embossed sport seat headrest cradles the cranium as you bury the accelerator, with the F-Type climbing effortlessly to 60mph (and beyond).

There's more to this car than going fast in a straight line though, and I found it surprising agile on the tight streets of Paris. It feels confident in the corners, and even at city speeds it doesn't feel out of place.

The ride is a little on the firm side, which means you'll feel more of the lumps and bumps on the road surface, but it's still comfortable. 

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Storage space in the cabin is at a premium, yet the trunk is easily big enough for a couple of weekend bags with space to spare. 

There's also a good selection of tech on offer, with Jaguar’s Touch Pro infotainment system providing DAB radio, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity for your phone. 

The 8-inch display is bright and responsive, and the quad-core powered system is fluid under the finger.

Connect your phone to the F-Type SVR and you'll be able to make and receive calls through the Meridian Audio sound system, as well as stream music from your handset - including Spotify - with controls on the steering wheel allowing you to easily play, pause and skip.

A rear reversing camera ensures you don't ding the paintwork on a low wall or bollard, while parking sensors all the way round the car make for more reassuring manoeuvres. 

Binoculars button aka bae

Then there are the buttons... well, really, there's the button. 

Housed in the center console, just below the gear gift, the button in question has an icon which looks like a pair of binoculars or glasses - but a visual aid this ain't. This is purely a key for an aural delight.

The button controls the F-Type SVR's switchable active exhaust. In short, press this button, plant your foot on the accelerator and you'll be treated to a deep, dramatic sound.

It works by opening bypass valves within the exhaust, allowing the gases to exit more quickly and thus producing a head-turning sound.

Obviously it's a little unnecessary, and even with the active exhaust off the F-Type SVR sounds great – but my word it sounds even better when you turn it on.

The sound is so good in fact, a small crowd gathered at a French service station I pulled into, with a couple of on-lookers videoing the exhaust when I revved the engine. Yep, I was that guy in the car park, but my 10 year old self would be so, so proud. This wasn't the only attention the SVR got though.

“One chap in a Renault Espace genuinely lost his mind as we swept past”

One chap in a Renault Espace genuinely lost his mind as we swept past, craning his neck over the steering wheel, nothing but pure, unbridled joy etched across his face, and gesticulating feverishly to his passengers as we disappeared up the French highway.

You'll find the F-Type SVR evokes this sort of reaction from onlookers wherever you go. Whether it's the waving child with his father on the streets of Paris, or the immigration officer at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel who tells you “there's a straight piece of tarmac just past this search bay.” 

And who am I to disappoint someone with the authority to literally strip me naked and interrogate my balloon knot. I press the magical binoculars and let the car do the talking.

I think I made his day.

Coming back down to earth

Unsurprisingly this doesn't come cheap, and the SVR starts at £110,880 which immediately puts it out of the reach for the majority of people. 

It brings you back down to earth with a bump. As I pulled up at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow I took a moment to pause and reflect on the 300 miles I had just enjoyed.

The F-Type SVR is a car to be experienced. You'll never truly appreciate the power, the design, the attention it garners unless you're lucky enough to get behind the wheel.

Any high performance car is the same in this regard, but the Jaguar has a certain finesse, an almost stereotypical stiff upper lip that separates it from the likes of the Porsches, BMWs and Nissan GTRs of the world. 

All good things must come to an end though, and the end here was crushingly brutal as I got back into my 1.2 liter Vauxhall Corsa and I realised that this is my reality.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars - and the tech inside them - available today. From superfast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.