JAGUAR’S F-type was given the tough gig of following the E-type, the 1960s two-seater generally regarded as a timeless classic. Sensibly, Jaguar left it 40 years or so before coming up with a replacement, to allow at least some of the fuss to die down.
One can say no more, by way of darkly glamorous bona fides for the F-type, than that Jose Mourinho, 53, drives one. Mind you, he was sacked by Chelsea and got into expensive legal trouble with the club doctor, so being darkly glamorous and owning an F-type isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it looks.
Anyway, there’s now an F-type SVR, in coupé and convertible forms, aimed at drivers for whom last year’s hot F-type R AWD wasn’t hot enough and who missed out on the ultra-hot, but limited-edition, F-type Project 7. The SVR goes straight to the top of the charts — and into the fray in all key-jangling contests — as the fastest production F-type.
The SV in the name openly badges up, for the first time, the involvement of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations, which sounds like something military. What it means is that the F-type R has been taken to a dedicated hand-finishing depot, where its vital parts have been wrung for further performance.
So here comes the 5-litre V8 engine, but boosted to 567bhp from 542bhp in the F-type R. Here comes the eight-speed automatic transmission, but sharpened up to saw more quickly through its gears. And here comes the titanium exhaust, but rerouted, rendered lighter and given a new, harder-edged rasp.
The rear axle is stiffer. There are freshly attitudinous, air-threshing alloys and, if you specify correctly, the SVR ends up 50kg lighter than a standard model.
“Decelerating into corners releases an unfettered string of crackles and bangs, akin to being present at the popping of God’s bubble wrap”
That doesn’t mean it isn’t sumptuous, though. Purists may ask why a car that goes at 200mph and is primed to burst out of your drive like a jet off an aircraft carrier isn’t stripped out inside and fitted with harnesses and a fire extinguisher. To which the answer is: because it’s a Jaguar. And tradition insists that a Jaguar should be at least as much about the smoking jacket as the smoking tyres.
Accordingly, its interior has mildly brutalist flashes of naked carbon fibre but is overall a swish nest of suede overlays, quilted seat coverings and thickly stitched leather door panels.
All of which adds some credence to Jaguar’s sales pitch that this blistering racket-maker is also a plausible “everyday car”. Well, yes, in the sense that it has a decent hi-fi and won’t grind your bones to dust. Nevertheless, this is a somewhat over-spiced vehicle in which to pop out for the milk.
We took the coupé out on a track in Spain and threw at it all the race-driving incompetence we could muster — and it merely shrugged. We then took the coupé and the convertible on the road, covering several hundred miles in about 3 ½ minutes.
In the convertible, conversation remains a possibility despite the blazing rattle of the engine — thrilling when it’s coming from your car, more than mildly obnoxious when it’s from one that has just overtaken you. Decelerating into corners releases an unfettered string of crackles and bangs, akin to being present at the popping of God’s bubble wrap.
It’s a powerful, impressive, absorbing experience, though possibly wearing if repeated daily. Then again, you don’t know until you try.