Test Drive: 2017 Jaguar F-TYPE SVR 

Anton Watts / Courtesy Jaguar

The new-and-improved coupe joins the elite club of supercars.

Two hawks stand side-by-side in the middle of a deserted two-lane road when a Jaguar speeds around a bend, catching the birds by surprise. The Jaguar slows as the two hawks frantically flap their wings to get airborne. The Jaguar F-TYPE SVR coupe I’m driving may be a beast, but it’s one with a taste only for gasoline.

It’s hard to believe there’s an empty road in California but I’ve found one about 60 miles east of Monterey near King City. It’s the best place to unleash the supercar: With a top speed of 200 miles per hour and the ability to pounce from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, the birds may be forgiven for being caught off guard. 

The SVR badge means this F-TYPE coupe is specially equipped for high performance by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations group. Basically, what they have done is to turn an already hot F-TYPE coupe into a rocket powered by a supercharged V-8 engine producing 575 horsepower. Jaguar engineers also fine-tuned the basic F-Type by making improvements not immediately noticed by the untutored eye. These tweaks included reducing weight by 55 pounds, adding aerodynamic touches to reduce drag, enlarging the front bumper air intakes and introducing a lightweight titanium exhaust more resistant to higher temperatures. That’s how you add the 14 mph needed join a small elite club of cars capable of 200 mph.

Despite its high performance characteristics, the F-TYPE SVR is remarkably smooth to drive thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Speed doesn’t come at the expense of luxury, though. The interior cabin feels spacious with comfortable leather seats that sport a distinctive quilt pattern and can be adjusted 14 different ways. And an easy to use infotainment system encourages a driver to crank up the 770-watt Meridian sound system.

Moving this fast, it feels like I can join the hawks in flight but the single wing spoiler at the rear is designed to help keep the tires firmly planted on the road, curtailing drag and lift. The coupe whips through turns like the jungle cat for which it’s named thanks to a finely tuned torque vectoring system that applies brakes to the inner wheel to mitigate understeer even at high speeds.

The SVR is even rare among supercars as it includes all-wheel-drive, which makes it practical for bad weather conditions. I suspect, however, that the Jaguar F-TYPE SVR would outrace any approaching storm.

$125,950; jaguar.com.

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