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2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR review: First drive

4

The Good

  • Looks fantastic
  • Makes lovely noises
  • Predictable handling

The Bad

  • Feels weighty
  • Expensive

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR review: Ben Griffin headed to Rockingham Circuit to see how well the supercharged V8 monster handles on a track and what the in-built ReRun GoPro app is all about.

Lapping a circuit is a bad way to see how much shopping a car carries, but then the 2018 model year F-Type SVR is to practicality what Flymo is to haircuts. This is a car with an engine output measured in kilotons, a two-seat deficit and a boot that would make a chinchilla feel claustrophobic.

Lapping Rockingham Circuit is, therefore, the best way to see what this car can do. Because stretching the legs of a5.0-litre V8 on a public road never ends well, particularly for your fleshy frame and anyone else in the vicinity.

The plan was to do three laps with a professional driver telling use where to brake (before the corner, surprisingly), the line to take (round the corner) and when to bury the accelerator (all the time). So all gathered motoring journalists and YouTubers went out to learn the layout.

Then we got to drive like idiots for three laps, which turned into three under the thinly veiled excuse of 'filming purposes'. Here are our first impressions.

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: What is it?

The car we were in was the F-Type SVR, which is the one that gets tweaked by Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations division to make it meaner and more capable of shortening your lifespan by decades. It can also lay claim to being the most powerful F-Type ever.

The new model has been given an updated front bumper, updated LED front headlights, updated LED rear tail lights and magnesium seats that save eight kilograms apiece.

Meanwhile the infotainment system has, as you have probably guessed, been updated and you can make use of an app called ReRun, which we will get to in a second.

Though it looks sportier than the front window of Sports Direct, the F-Type SVR is more of a high-powered grand tourer because it is somewhat heavy. But when you have 567bhp being developed by a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, it is oh so easy to build up speed.

Dangerously easy, in fact, as one particular journalist found out three times at three separate corners. Suffice to say, the Jaguar staff were less than pleased as it deposited half of Rockingham's gravel run-off into the pit lane.

Those who could steer began grinning at the sound of the V8 roar during the sighting lap and were positively dribbling themselves into dehydration as it became our turn to do three laps, with Jaguar's ReRun app and a GoPro camera facing forward recording the action.

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: How does it handle?

A few cheeky rumbles of the F-Type SVR's noise-maker and we were on our way. I was stuck right at the back, which is a mixed blessing as following someone else allows you to drop back and hit the corners harder ─ for testing purposes, obviously.

In its all-wheel drive state (a rear-wheel drive version is available), the F-Type SVR has so more than enough traction to keep the rear wheels in tow and I was able to take each corner at speed without much effort. Track driving on easy mode, essentially.

The steering provides respectable levels of feedback, as do the tyres that are wider than some superminis. Its heft is ever present, especially when it is time to let the optional £8,570 carbon ceramic brakes scrub of speed quickly and avoid rear-ending the F-Type SVR in front, but it can do agile-ish.

It is beautifully poised, too, and no matter how hard you chuck it around the body holds on tight and firm – the efforts of weight distribution revealing itself. Our dear friend understeer is easy to counteract so it takes little skill to enjoy the F-Type SVR's gifts.

A little effort and fettling with the driving modes and things go from less serious and controlling to more relaxed and fun. As with most cars, the less the computer kicks in the more fun you can have, but at the risk of learning what it feels like to hit a crash barrier. Or a tree.

Relaxed just so happens to be the right word for the eight-speed automatic, which can be slow to react. Arguably the paddles would be used in a track setting, but on a road you may well succumb to laziness without a manual gear stick to play with.

The accelerator is brutally sensitive, which is fun for the driver but headache-inducing for an unprepared passenger, yet for all of its shiny carbon fibre, quad-exit exhaust system and gigantic brakes, the F-Type SVR's persona is one of comfort. Which is odd for a car capable of 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds.

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: So what is the point?

This is a machine you blast from the UK to a booze cruise in Bordeaux. Or visit Geneva for an episode of Top Gear. The fact it tops out at 200mph ─ 186mph with the deployable carbon fibre spoiler ─ means swift progress is guaranteed, but you will get out of it feeling as if you had popped to the shops.

There is a sense the F-Type SVR harkens back to less sophisticated times, as the process of using V8 horsepower to overcome weight is becoming less and less common. Hello CO2 emissions. But that is part of the earnest charm ─ a dainty Alpine A110-esque vehicle, it is not nor does it want to be.

The Coupe version is the dynamically superior of the two because it has fewer kilograms to worry about, but the open-top nature of the Convertible avoids blocking the engine note. A first-world decision, if ever there was one.

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: What about the ReRun app?

A large point of the day was to test the ReRun app, which connects to a GoPro camera and lets you start and stop recording from within the infotainment display. It seemed buggy, as in one instance it said it was recording but was doing anything but. Then we were told all memory cards had corrupted.

But if it had worked, we would have been able to see how late we should have been braking, how close to the apex we weren't and how much earlier we should have put pedal to metal. Well, carpet. Data such as cornering forces and top speed would have been recorded for all your humble brag needs.

Another new addition is the revised infotainment system, which lets poke a touchscreen and see various functions come to life. It is more fiddly to use than one with physical buttons such as BMW's iDrive, but it certainly freshens up the cabin.

When it comes to appearances, it is more of a case of spot the difference than anything. But then the old F-Type was a beautiful steed and the aggressive edge of the 2017 SVR version help it stand out from its lesser powerful brothers and sisters, including the bog-standard V6.

2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR: Should I buy one, then?

The fact Jaguar was brave enough to let a bunch of uncoordinated journalists loose in a heavy car capable of 200mph at a very turn-heavy circuit speaks volumes. It is confident the SVR can be an exciting drive even when out of its depth.

But the F-Type's true home is, of course, on an empty jaunt of countryside road where you can enjoy the V6 or V8 soundtrack bouncing off the trees and your eardrums. Here is where it will bring you the sort of joy you expect from Jaguar.

The thing is, a 2017 F-Type SVR costs £110,000 before you start adding go-faster stripes. You could buy a Porsche or McLaren for that. Plus there is the fact it is a bit of a CO2-maker and will drink fuel to the point you may end up needing to use a food bank.

You know what, though? There will be fans of cars with that legendary cat badge who will see a very pretty car with very big claws and a very loud roar. If that is you, the SVR version will do you proud. Even on the odd track day.

Key Specs

  • 5.0-litre supercharged V8
  • 567bhp
  • 516lb/ft (700Nm)
  • 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds (top speed 200mph)
  • 269g/km of CO2
  • 25mpg (combined)
  • From £110,880

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