An F-Type SVR, Jag’s first car since the XJ220 with a 220mph top speed, needs delivering to the Red Bull Ring via Germany. This is it then: Mission 200.
I can feel it coming, a faint tickle in the sinuses, but I can’t stop now. The battered Audi A3 I’ve been following at a steady 110mph has just peeled right, revealing a stretch of three-lane autobahn perfection – empty, approximately straight, well-sighted, dry. Systems check: vmax mode sinks the carbon spoiler closer to the bootlid, switch the exhausts to Spitfire and any stragglers up ahead should have fair warning. I give it all the throttle, mashing the pedal into the footwell with unnecessary force, searching for an extra millimetre of squidge from the carpet covering the bulkhead.
In the F-Type SVR, you don’t just drop the hammer, you drop a branch of B&Q. Even deep into three figures, it squats and hurtles forward like a demented rhino, snorting on upshifts, intent on gouging the horizon. I watch the speedo sweep past 120mph… 130mph, and there’s that tickle again. No time for that, I’m wired like Bradley Cooper in Limitless – my eyes are on stalks, scanning the distance for trucks, debris and gentle curves that at 150mph-plus tend to morph into hairpin bends. As I hit 160mph, I can’t suppress it any longer, and close my eyes involuntarily before unloading the Hurricane Katrina of sneezes, covering the dash in a thin film of snot. When my eyes open again an ambitious Ford Transit has pulled into our lane 300 metres ahead. I squeeze the carbon-ceramic brakes, and reacquaint myself with breathing.
Subsequent calculations reveal that during the two seconds I was inspecting the back of my eyelids, we had travelled 143 metres, or six tennis courts. That’s the thing with high-speed runs, you need a lot of space. How much exactly? Well, assuming perfect conditions, the SVR will gobble up 1.5 miles of road on its way from 0-175mph, but you’ll need something like another 2.5 miles to claw your way from 175-200mph, through air that’s becoming more treacly by the second.
As for the supercharged V8’s 567bhp output, it might sound unnecessary, but if you want to build a 1,705kg, AWD, 200mph supercar, every horse needs to pull its weight. That’s because power required rises with the cube of velocity. So, if Jag’s engineering team had a boozy lunch and decided to up the SVR’s output by 200bhp to 767bhp, the top speed would climb to 221mph – a 21mph increase. Turn it up by 400bhp to 967bhp and the vmax would be 238mph – only a 17mph improvement. It’s a game of diminishing returns.