Cat me if you can

You’ll almost certainly hear the F-Type SVR before you see it. On the centre console of the car there’s a small button with a simple graphic of an exhaust. Hit this and the engine goes into ‘loud mode’. Whoever is behind the wheel of the SVR will almost certainly have hit this button and be gleefully broadcasting a sonorous wail to anyone within a half-mile radius. You can’t help it, it’s just too wonderful.

Often in life, the nosiest characters are the ones over-compensating for something, and if any car should arrive with a massive chip on its shoulder it’s this one. It certainly has a lot to prove. One hundred and ten thousand pounds for a Jaguar – that’s what this special F-Type is asking. And that’s base level. The car we tested – with a not unreasonable number of extras – clocked in at a cat’s whisker under £133,000. Sit back and think about that for a moment. Jaguar have undoubtedly made some fine cars in recent years but this motor is being pitched fully into supercar territory. In base form the Jag is up against the Maserati Granturismo, Aston Martin V12 Vantage or even a nearly new Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallardo. Loaded with fairly essential carbon ceramic brakes and a weight-saving dash of carbon fibre, the Jag squares up to even the Porsche 911 Turbo or McLaren 540C. That’s very heady territory. But this is no ordinary Jaguar. Far from it.

The base F-Type is a fine coupe but this SVR version has been to Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit. This is a car that the engineers at Jaguar have wanted to make for a very long time and now finally given the opportunity they’ve gone all out. Think Wolverine having his bones replaced with adamantium. What you get is a 200mph car, 25kg lighter than the F-Type R, that will take you from 0-60 in just 3.5sec and use all of its 575bhp to tingle your spine. Those figures would have put this car into hypercar territory not too many years ago. They certainly confirm the Jag’s supercar credentials today.

The exterior does a fine job of communicating the potential beneath. Penned by Jaguar’s head of design Ian Callum (whose previous hit include the svelte Aston Martin DB7 and a good deal of the iconic Aston DB9) it’s clearly been a labour of love. All Ian’s understanding of the perfect physical balance of a coupe – long bonnet, aggressive snout, high haunches – are here. The F-Type is undoubtedly his finest work. While the standard car is one of the best-looking coupes on the road at any price, the SVR version is even more aggressive.

Move inside and you slip into the beautifully finished quilted leather seats to be presented with an interior that delivers all the solidity and luxury you’d expect from a true supercar. Hit the starter button and the caterwaul from the exhausts instantly distance this car from the standard F-Type. The 5.0 litre supercharged V8 is urgent and fierce, gleefully popping if it’s pushed from cold.

Hit the road and the SVR handles sublimely. There’s a wonderful balance here between poise and confidence in corners and a swing-happy rear end that just begs to be slid sideways. Every inch of road is a thrill.

Supercars are not bought with the head, they are bought with the heart, but you still need to be able to justify the purchase to yourself every time you look out on the driveway. Can a Jaguar, albeit a 200mph one, really challenge the Maseratis and Lambos of this world? Time spent with this car says yes. It’s a fabulous piece of work, and a car so rare that it’s likely to appreciate strongly in years to come. That alone should help your head justify the purchase. You heart will have been lost to the noise a long time ago.

Conor McNicholas
Conor McNicholas is a British journalist and editor. He formerly edited Top Gear and IPC-run music magazine, New Musical Express (NME).

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