2018 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
It may not look old, but the 2018 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible is entering its fifth model year, which typically means it’s past time to go under the knife for a little nip/tuck. Evidently, though, Jaguar design chief Ian Callum couldn’t find much he wanted to change on his Rembrandt, so the handsome two-seater emerges with just a restyled front fascia—basically, the two slotlike outer air intakes have been replaced—and new LED headlights with an available adaptive function. Although the design may be little changed—we’re not complaining—Jaguar gave the F-type more substantive updates with new tech as well as new model variants, including (gasp!) a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
In fact, I humbly submit to Jaguar executives that every purchase of a 2018 F-Type SVR Convertible should come with a set of earplugs – preferably ones made from fine Aniline leather and NASA-quality memory foam, but you’re going to at least want something to protect your fragile human eardrums from the roar of this jungle cat.
You’d think all the money that the storied engineers put into making this the fastest and most-extreme Jag in decades – well, until recently, at least – went straight to the exhaust system, but that’s just the most outspoken feature that makes this pretty kitty special.
Hell, the word “special” is right there in the name, coming straight outta’ Jaguar and Land Rovers’ Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division, and the updates to this car over even the garden variety F-Type R are numerous.
The supercharged V8 receives a bump of 25 horsepower over the R model – 575 ponies versus just 550 – and a healthy heaping of torque (516 lb.-ft.), making this the first Jag to crest 200 mph since the legendary XJ220. Unfortunately, the convertible model is only capable of 195, but all that extra noise from having the top down should help make up for it.
Sixty mph happens in just 3.5 seconds, but you won’t be counting because a devilish laugh will be bellowing from your chest out of the sheer force thrust upon you, playing another part in the raucous symphony that sounds – I assume – like when a star dies somewhere far off in the galaxy.
Of course, Jaguar’s SVO engineers didn’t squeeze out 200 mph from an engine with some race fuel and wishful thinking. From the ground up, the F-Type SVR is the most race-capable Jaguar the company has made to date and everything on or in it has a distinct purpose.
The standard all-wheel-drive system of the F-Type R has been tweaked to include brake-aided torque vectoring and an electronic limited slip differential, and that big ol’ carbon fiber wing out back is just one of a host of aerodynamic aides to make sure the car doesn’t launch into orbit as you approach the two century mark.
The SVR also comes with a $12,000 option for carbon ceramic brakes, famous for their tendency to resist brake fade in a way that steel rotors just can’t. That’s some serious coin for a set of stoppers, but if you intend to take this car anywhere near a racetrack, consider budgeting for it in advance.
Jaguar’s representatives will tell you that the F-Type SVR needed a new Titanium-Inconel alloy exhaust system over the already borderline illegally loud R model because of something to do with a rear diffuser and weight saving efforts, blah blah blah…
What they’re really trying to say is that they employ team of crackpot sado-masochist engineers who take joy in popping not only their own eardrums but those of everyone within a quarter mile radius.
Seriously, think of the loudest road-legal car you’ve ever heard, and then double its auditory fury. That’s what it’s like to live with the F-Type SVR every day. This is no getaway car for a British super spy. Just firing it up while the engine is cold will immediately alert the enemy to your whereabouts… or more realistically, wake your well-heeled neighbors from their afternoon siestas.
There’s even a button to make the stock exhaust louder, and before you ask, yes, I absolutely pressed that button every single time I hopped behind the wheel.
Beyond the auditory experience that is the F-Type SVR, though, all of these performance goodies not only make it better to drive than every other F-Type, but finally worthy of consideration among some of the best sports cars the world has to offer.
As much as I love the way the F-Type looks and sounds, especially with a supercharged V8 under the sculpted, muscular clamshell hood, there was always something lacking in the driving experience. The first F-Type R (which was rear-wheel-drive only) was too unruly and tail-happy, and by adding an all-wheel-drive system to help reign in all that power, they made it heavier and sloppier, not to mention much more likely to understeer its way through a corner.
The steering input is heavy and precise, just the way I like it, and though you definitely feel the F-Type’s relative weight in the corners, it’s all entirely more composed than in other models. Heck, even the suspension is less back-breaking than in the F-Type R. All around, job well done.
But let’s be honest, if you wanted a track toy in this price bracket, you’d spring for a Porsche 911 GTS or even a Chevrolet Corvette Z06. The F-Type SVR, after all, is a car to be seen and heard in. And trust me, you’ll be both seen and heard pretty much anywhere you go.
For a total cost of about $133,000, my modestly-equipped test car undercuts the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster, both of which offer similar levels of performance on track, but 125 fewer horses in the Porsche’s case and 25 fewer from the Benz.
In that context, the F-Type SVR Convertible is a steal, and likely the best of the bunch if your ultimate goal is to be seen and heard.