We go Spanish flying in the 200-mph, $126,945 Jaguar F-Type SVR: first drive review

Maybe this is how we’ll remember sports cars. Once everything runs off a silent pack of cells charged wirelessly overnight. Once no one actually owns a car outright. Once cars turn into self-driven transportation devices, run by apps, pre-programmed for convenience, drained of life.

Savor this one. The 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR is a crackling piece of ecstatic, retro performance art. That’s not just a Jaguar 5.0-liter V-8, it’s the loudest Jaguar V-8 ever. It’s not just fast, it’s the fastest Jaguar ever, save for the uber-rare XJ220 supercar.

It isn’t merely the best-looking Jaguar on the road today, it’s also the most sinister one, with a squarer jaw, fatter fenders, and Robocop-inspired bits of carbon-fiber armor.

It’s probably a step beyond the F-Type that any of us could live with every day. That doesn’t intrude on what it is—a fearless middle finger at the future of cars, with a leering eye at their past.

SVR, from SVO

The F-Type has hacked its way through the sports car jungle since it was new in 2014. It’s taken a couple of years for Jaguar to flesh out the lineup. In three model years, the convertible has been joined by a coupe, then an awesome F-Type Coupe R edition, then manual-shift and all-wheel-drive editions.

Now Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations gets a crack at it, and in the process, neatly sums up what the F-Type is all about with the SVR.

It’s the first of the brand’s aluminum-hulled sports cars to hit a claimed 200 mph. I didn’t quite reach that epic milestone, but at Spain’s Motorland Aragon circuit, with a pro co-pilot and two passes, I saw 175 mph indicated, and it wasn’t even the trickiest part of the day.

Motorland’s an unforgiving place. Sharp off-camber bends whip into steep descents, the bus stop recreates the feeling of being run over by an actual bus. Oh, and then, the longest, most tempting reaches dump you right into a second-gear hairpin.

SVR bits and pieces

The SVR nailed those passages down as flat as it possibly could, with a wicked rasp and haymakers of oversteer.

SVO starts with the Coupe R configuration, then tweaks everything to push the F-Type SVR to a frontier shared with the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT and Porsche 911 Turbo. The Jaguar dumps in more power, all-wheel drive, enhanced aero bits, dynamic upgrades, and some subtle cues to give fair warning—the SVR recipe from here forward.

MORE: 8 things that make a Jaguar F-Type an SVR

For power, the F-Type SVR taps Jaguar’s supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 for higher output rated at 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The 8-speed automatic gets even faster shift speeds (no, the SVR doesn’t have a manual), and the all-wheel-drive system has more radical settings for shifting power from the rear to the front, and for coordinating power between the rear wheels.

Jaguar says the SVR coupe rockets to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, with convertibles taking a couple of ticks longer. Top speed is 200 mph for the coupe and 195 mph for the roadster.

Along with the power boost, the SVR has its own programming for shift points, steering, stability control, and suspension damping. Its pushiest driving mode dramatically lifts the yaw limits for the all-wheel-drive and stability control systems, which can be turned off completely.

Hardware upgrades include a front roll bar that’s 5 percent softer; the rear bar’s mildly stiffer too. The 20-inch wheels trim some weight and hide some stiffer knuckles at the rear. A new titanium-alloy exhaust system cuts weight and puts the SVR on a two-pack-a-day voice lessons.

Aero gets its own massage, with big front air intakes and a rear venturi, underbody trays, and an active rear spoiler that cuts lift when it rises to go to work (at 60 mph for the convertible, 70 mph for the coupe, all the time when Dynamic mode’s selected).

Weight is down 55 pounds in base-price trim, but add the $12,000 carbon-ceramic brakes and swap in pricey carbon-fiber pieces for the roof and chin spoiler and the SVR is down about 110 pounds.

Finally, at its feet, the SVR wears custom Pirelli P Zero tires; 265/35ZR-20s in front and 305/30ZR-20s at the back.

Those treads are in charge of knowing when the SVR needs to let all holy hell break loose—which it does often, and easily, when provoked.

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