Test Drive: 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe
Because I don't control the order of the vehicles I receive for testing, switching vehicles can sometimes be a little disorienting. After a week of daily driving, jumping from a subcompact car into a full-size track (or visa versa) can require more than a few miles of adjusting. But none have been as different as the last two I tested — an all-electric 2017 Chevy Bolt EV and a high performance 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe.
After a week of driving the Bolt, I thought Chevy has finally figured out how to sell all-electric cars to the masses. The compact five-door hatchback was stylish, well made, fun to drive and practical. With an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles on a full charge, it practically eliminates the fear of running out of electric power on the road. And with a base price of less than $27,000 after federal and state incentives, it is also affordable.
But then I squeezed myself into the F-Type SVR and thought, who cares? When the 575 horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8 snapped to life, all notions of saving the planet by getting off fossil fuels went out the window. And while I thought the Bolt accelerated well for an EV, those memories were instantly obliterated by the first lunge away from a dead stop in the Jaguar. So it costs nearly five times as much as the Bolt — again, who cares? The sharply styled exterior alone seems worth the price of admission.
OK, time to come back to earth. A direct comparison is ridiculous. The truth is, both cars are excellent examples of what they are meant to be. The BOLT is an excellent affordable EV and the Jaguar F-Type SVR is an excellent sports car bordering on a street legal race car.
The F-Type won rave reviews when it was first introduced in 2013. The long overdue successor to the Jaguar E-Type that conquered both Britain and America in the 1960s, it was beautify, well engineered and a blast to drive with either the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 or the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. The infotainment system was finally world class. And it was available as either a coupe or convertible.
But Jaguar was not content to let the F-Type alone. The company's Special Vehicle Operation office turned its attention to the already faster R-version and increased the excitement across the board. Additional bodywork — including hood vents and a carbon fiber roof — makes it look even more aggressive. The interior is trimmed in red leather and even features red seat belts. The standard V-8 has 25 more horsepower than the F-Type R. All that power is channeled through an eight-speed QuickShift automatic transmission to a standard Instinctive All Wheel Drive system. Stopping is handled by a Carbon Ceramic Matrix Braking System with yellow calipers. And just in case you think that's all too subtle, the Switchable Active Exhaust System increases the bark from the twin dual exhaust tips, just to make sure everyone knows you're coming.
Of course, with any such car, there are trade offs. While the F-Type is a surprisingly comfortable daily driver, the SVR version is much more of a weekend toy. The ride is so stiff — thanks in part to the 20-inch alloy wheels and low profile tires — that rough roads can be unpleasant. The ceramic brakes squeak like a school bus until they're broken in. And even with the exhaust turned down, it is still loud enough to be a constant presence the 770 watt Meridian sound system cannot fully overcome.
But again, who cares? Nobody buys a car like this to slog back and forth to the office. It only has two seats and limited storage under the rear hatch, after all,
No, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR is meant to be driven hard and rewards the driver with the feeling of owning the road at any speed. You just have to be completely aware of your surroundings at all times. Police are much more likely to notice it than, say, a small EV from Chevy.
As a factory optioned sports car, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR only competes against a limited number of vehicles. At $126,945, it is more expensive than the cheapest of the lot, the Corvette Z06. But it is significantly less expensive than a Porsche 911 Turbo S or Mercedes-AMG GT R, which also makes it a surprising value.
2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe
Base price: $126,945
Price as tested: $126,945
Type: Sports car
Engine: Supercharged and intercooled 5.0-liter V8 (575 hp, 516 lb-ft)
Transmission: Eight-speed QuickShift automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 15/23
Overall length: 176.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,950-4000 pounds
Final assembly: Castle Bromwich, United Kingdom