TO SHOW OFF ITS RANGE, JAGUAR HAD THE BRILLIANT IDEA OF INVITING ME TO A PERSONALISED TRACK DAY AT KYALAMI. Not only was I chauffeured there in a Range Rover SVR by a woman who turned out to be as much of a petrolhead as myself, but I found myself in motoring heaven upon encountering the line-up.
The cars waiting in the pit lane were a feast of jaguar’s offerings: there was an XE R-Sport, an XF R-Sport, the F-Type R AWD, F-Pace R-Sport, XJ R LWB Sport and, the main attraction, in brilliant orange, the new F-Type SVR, the car maker’s top performance model and the first-ever production Jaguar from Special Vehicle Operations (SVO). While the basic F-Type with its 3.0-1. V6 and 280kW is not what you would describe as a weak car, Jaguar also produced an R version, with a 5.0-1, V8 and 405kW. Still, enough is never quite enough. And so we meet the extreme SVR with its mighty 423kW.
The same V8 that sits under the hood of the Project 7, a no-compromise F-Type convertible limited to an edition of 250 units, fires up this (unlimited) SVR. The Jaguar SVR is the fastest production car in the company’s history since 1992’s XJ220 supercar, which was limited to 275 units.
And it is the first wildcat since then to crack the magical 320km/h mark. With a top speed of 322km/h it even beats the Porsche 911 Turbo. But it excels at far more than high speeds. The complete driving dynamics in Jaguar’s range have improved considerably. I thundered around the track, encouraged to faster speeds in the corners by my relaxed personal instructor. In fact, the only time he urged me to brake harder was in the XJ long-wheel base limousine. Despite the weight, this car moves faster than I realised.
What feels like a comfortable cruising speed inside the air conditioned cockpit is actually surprisingly fast. Luckily, gleefully, the sound fusions accompanying the other models gave me a better indication of their speeds. I saved the range-topping F-Type SVR for last. It is lighter than its sister models; the titanium exhaust alone saves 16kg. The most exhilarating part of the ride was the incredible reverberation. It’s an infernal screaming. Roaring off the start line I immediately realised that this is not merely a car; it’s a seismic event. Unleashing the resharpened cat raises a phonetic storm.
The SVR splurges with lascivious virility. It growls first, then bellows, roaring like a primal beast. When easing off the accelerator and shifting gears the artificial backfire sounds like cannon fire. Old-school gentlemen Jaguar drivers may take to their heels, choked and embarrassed. A switch in the middle console opens the active valves in the silencer. But be warned: do not push it anywhere close to hospitals or old age homes; everywhere else it’s a wellness treatment to the ears of car nuts.
The SVR is wild yes, but it can turn into a tame pussy cat. In comfort mode it’s a great cruiser, a sleek and very sexy day-to-day ride with comfort enough to avoid regular back adjustment sessions with your chiropractor. Naturally, the SVR can only reveal its entire potential on a racetrack, where it guarantees constant adrenaline highs. The precise steering and enormous power makes it a perfect track car. It concentrates the all-wheel drive to the rear, torque-vectoring puts power to the outside wheel and the adaptive chassis does the rest.
The F-Type SVR is an ostentatious demonstration of unreason. It is cheeky and strong-voiced, with the most Nurburgring laps under its fat tyres in the model line-up. It’s as unreasonable as a pubescent youngster, but simultaneously lithe and strong. It’s the wildcat among super sports cars, with sharpened claws and a confident growl.