Pick your flavor of Jaguar F-Type convertible: All but a diesel version is on the menu at this point — and the seventh and latest trim level of the ragtop Jaguar is built in secret to control all others. One F-Type to rule them all.
Ruling is hard work, but the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 under that forward-tilting hood does the job with 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The SVR model pairs the power with an eight-speed QuickShift automatic transmission that sends thrust to all four wheels. Drivers can shift via paddles or the familiar up/down gearshift motions, with Jaguar promising 0-60 sprints of just 3.5 seconds. A manual transmission would have made the car slower, but a more plausible explanation for its absence is that it’s just not that kind of car despite the raw power. Top speed is 195 mph, so drivers of the SVR are better off keeping both hands on the steering wheel — sound advice for a car that, on paper, eclipses the Ferrari F40 in almost every performance metric.
Yes, it has come to this: A convertible Jag with an automatic and SiriusXM tuned to the Yacht Rock station can more than hold its own against the demigods of not just yesteryear, but almost yesterday. And it can do so while returning a combined 18 mpg, at least when not driven in anger (we drove it in anger).
Of course, the SVR’s engine is only half the formula. As with the F-Type SVR coupe, Jaguar beefed up the suspension with redesigned dampers and antiroll bars while adding revised front and rear fascias that are friendly to airflow at speeds approaching 200 mph. This includes a carbon-fiber active rear spoiler that deploys above 70 mph, as well as a flat underfloor and a rear diffuser. The convertible rides on 20-inch wheels wearing Pirelli P Zero tires, which partially obscure the massive brakes: The SVR wears front and rear discs nearly 15 inches in diameter, but those who require even greater stopping power can check the box for the optional Carbon Ceramic Matrix brake system.
Jaguar handed us the keys the F-Type SVR in north Georgia, along with some indirect driving directions to the Jacksonville, Florida, area; we were instructed to be there just before dinner with plenty of time to spare. There’s no Autobahn in Georgia, but we wanted dinner, and the SVR proved the fastest way to get to Florida without the bouquet of scents modern air travel offers.
First things first: The SVR is extraordinarily quick in a straight line, and it’s not shy about letting other traffic know it’s in a hurry. The four tailpipes belt out a roar from the titanium exhaust system that can not only part traffic, it also leaves everyone with the impression a giant robotic lion from a Michael Bay film just passed. The wail of the exhaust is similar to an emergency vehicle siren: It’s not that loud from inside because it’s pointed at other cars. With the convertible top up, the stiff chassis and absence of road noise could make you forget it’s a drop-top F-Type at all. That’s perhaps the strongest lasting impression this supercar leaves, aside from the positively rude exhaust system that perpetually barks at other cars.
The route to Florida is not a straight line, and in the twisties, the Jag offers surefooted grip with a touch of comfort-oriented steering numbness that invites comparisons to heavier German sports cars. In fact, the car feels heavier than it is on paper, but it’s in character — this is, after all, a very powerful luxury convertible that can play at the track when called upon.
One way of looking at the the F-Type SVR is that it’s one of the more affordable convertibles that can approach the 200-mph mark.
The SVR is 25 hp stronger and some $20,000 pricier than the next fastest F-Type model — the F-Type R — but the bump in equipment (and sound) is enough to warrant the extra cash for those who want the fastest cat short of an XJ220. The F-Type is tame enough for everyday use; its well-muted interior and civilized road manners result in a car happy to run to the supermarket and do other boring things at speeds below 195 mph.
Jaguar has struck a good balance of everyday usability and fighter-jet levels of fun in this convertible, critical for its audience: Jaguar knows full well that most F-Type SVR convertibles will be driven conservatively, mostly between golf courses. Here’s hoping those lucky owners squeeze a track day in occasionally, too.
The F-Type SVR convertible is the seventh version of the F-Type convertible that Jaguar offers.
On Sale: Spring 2017
Base Price: $129,795
Drivetrain: Supercharged 5.0-liter V8, AWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 575 hp @ 6500 rpm, 516 lb-ft @ 3500 – 5000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,792 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.5 seconds
Fuel Economy: 15/18/23(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Stiff chassis, comfortable ride, quiet cabin, great stopping power
Cons: Close to F-Type R on paper, dull steering