THE PROS & CONS
- WHAT’S BEST: Everything.
- WHAT’S WORST: Nothing I could find.
- WHAT’S INTERESTING: The first Jaguar to sport the SVR badge and the is most powerful the brand makes.
MONTEREY, CA: It would be hard to find a better time and place to play with the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible than during Monterey Car Week in California.
This annual celebration in August includes such wondrous events as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, The Gathering at the Quail, Rolex Monterey Historic races and the stunning auctions by such houses as RM and Bonhams.
But the other attraction, a least for me, is the road network running around and through the Monterey Peninsula with such venues as Cannery Row in Monterey, 17 Mile Drive and, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) south through Big Sur.
This is perhaps my favourite place in the world, so the chance to spend five days at Car Week driving a SVR F-Type Convertible was impossible to resist.
This is the first Jaguar to wear the SVR badge and it’s also the fastest road-going Jaguar so far.
It is one of the first products of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations department which functions as the brand’s in-house performance division, much like AMG at Mercedes-Benz and M-Power at BMW.
SVO’s role was to improve power and handling, which they did, starting with strict weight reduction on the standard F-Type Convertible.
It includes a titanium exhaust system that saves 16 kg (35 lb) but also adds a sharp rasp to the system, which you hear to the full extent during throttle blipping as you change gears down at speed.
The optional carbon ceramic matrix brakes are virtually fade free, but the bonus is a 21 kg (46 lb) reduction in unsprung weight, which is a big deal and adds a lot to the suspension response.
Aerodynamics were also improved, with a flat bottom, rear venturi and a very large active rear wing to reduce drag or lift depending on the situation.
Next the supercharged 5.0-litre direct injection V8 from the F-Type R was power pumped up to 575 hp and 516 lb/ft of torque.
This goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a full-time all-wheel-drive system with bias to the rear.
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In the cockpit, the usual Jaguar rotary shifter that rises from the centre console is replaced by a proper pistol grip lever and supplemented by paddle shifters.
Put all this together and you have a two-seater that goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 323 km/h (200 mph).
Torque vectoring is part of the AWD system and gives the driver more precise steering by braking the inside wheels in a fast corner to lessen understeer.
Lastly, the SVR specific 20-inch alloy wheels are a full 11-inches wide, wearing Pirelli P Zero tires expressly developed for the F-Type SVR and looking fabulous in optional gloss black as fitted to my mount.
Everywhere I went, people gave me the “V” salute and “nice car man” comments.
And then there were at least three people who wanted a picture of the car as I glided down Cannery Row to my hotel, when the street was being closed off for a parade of exotic cars.
The F-Type doesn’t start with a lot of drama until you rev the engine, then the special split exhaust system shoots out a hard note that makes people stop and look around.
It is also very easy to drive, as I found out crawling up Carmel Valley Road in literally stop-and-go traffic for 20 km up to the Quail Lodge for the gathering of show cars.
Throughout, the SVR wasn’t bothered by the heat and the stop/start system got a tremendous workout.
However, it was on the PCH through Carmel-by-the-Sea that was the most enjoyable for me to drive.
Top down (of course, the entire five days) the SVR was so smooth, so responsive with even the slightest steering corrections acted on instantly through the electric power steering rack.
Cutting back from the Quail Lodge over to Laguna Seca, the route is called the Laureles Grade with looping curves up and then back down where you can sweep through effortlessly when you have the kind of grip on the road the F-Type SVR has.
While all this is going on, you’re cuddled in pleated leather seats with a lozenge quilt pattern and the SVR logo embossed on the headrests.
The twin sports seats have significant bolsters and then there’s my favourite, the leather heated steering wheel, not that I needed it in California.
Despite the muscular fenders, vision is good even though you sit low in the cockpit with the main instrument grouping directly ahead with nice, big numbers, especially on the tach.
But what really stands out is the F-Type SVR can be driven to the corner store for a jug of milk by your granny and yet it can hold its own with just about any high performance sportscar out there.
And you don’t have to be California dreamin’ to get one, as the starting price for the SVR Coupe version is $142,000 and the Convertible is $145,000, which is reasonable when you look at what Ferrari charges for the same level of performance.
This is a cat that roars.
2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
BODY STYLE: Two-seat luxury convertible.
DRIVE METHOD: Front engine, all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
ENGINE: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 (575 hp, 516 lb/ft)
CARGO CAPACITY: 200 litres.
TOW RATING: Not recommended
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) (US gallons) 18/15/23 mpg
PRICE: Coupe, $142,000; Convertible as tested, $145,00
WEB SITE: www.jaguar.ca