In the UK, being ‘Sent to Coventry’ means being ostracized, cast out from your peers so to speak. I won’t bore you with the details but the phrase is thought to have originated during the English Civil War when troops stationed near Coventry were shunned and excluded by the town’s locals. Anyway, Jaguar have come up with a different meaning altogether.
As if Jaguar wasn’t good enough, the iconic British luxury and Sports car Marque is moving up a gear (or three) with the expansion of their SVO – Special Vehicle Operations arm. In 2015, JLR had what could best be described as a stroke of genius and set up the SVO facility in Coventry England. Designed to be the pinnacle of the brand, the GBP 20M Technical Centre is the home of over 200 automotive guru’s. It has 40 engineering inspection bays, a world class paint facility and is essentially their new ‘Centre of Excellence’. It’s a place that converts the already head turning range of Jaguar/Land Rovers into absolute jaw droppers – SVR for Performance, SVA for Hyper luxury and SVX their ultimate in off road.
We have already had a glimpse at what the facility can produce (with the likes of the Range Rover V8 Supercharged SVR and Sport SVR) but we were invited to an intimate media event at Hampton Downs racetrack to get better acquainted with their latest performance model – the F-Type SVR.
The F-Type SVR is both a feral animal and a prized domestic feline, it’s a bare knuckle brawler that comes dressed in fine tailored clothing. Let me run some stats past you. 567BHP (423kW) of power, 700Nm of Torque, 0-100kph in 3.7 seconds AND has a top speed of 200MPH (322kph). This information is all well and good but wait there’s more – the beautifully styled 4 wheel drive Coupe, has a 5 Litre V8 Twin-Scroll Supercharged powerhouse under the bonnet that bellows and screams beautifully at ground shaking volume through its inconel titanium (the ones used at F1 and LeMans) quad pipe exhaust system. It boasts a lap time of 7.33 minutes around the infamous Nurburgring (same times as cars x5+ the price) and I got to play with it around Hampton Downs.
The exterior of the F-Type SVR is visually aggressive but also strikingly handsome. The low front bumper and splitter have bigger air intakes (than the R) for cooling and aerodynamics, with sculpted louvres on its long bonnet and side fender panel vents. The Coupe styling offers an ‘on the move’ athletic stance (especially when sitting on its lightweight 20” open spoke paws). Round the back, the SVR has a rear diffuser and undertray for improved airflow and a twin-strutt aerodynamic wing that automatically optimises for various driving and speed conditions – ie dynamic for when you want to take it up to 200mph. In comparison to the R, the SVR is significantly lighter, stiffer and more ferocious. It has a new suspension and knuckle change which provides a 37% increase in camber and 41% increase in Toe. Wheels are 13.8kg’s slimmer and the inconel exhaust saves 16kg’s, however I can’t help but feel that both these and the other (up to 50kg in total) savings were ruined the moment I sank my large behind into the driving seat. The F-Type SVR is built for speed and built to attract attention. However, the interior tells a different story.
The cabin is wrapped in premium suede and leather (with a centre console of brushed aluminium) and apparently ‘everything’ is at your fingertips (hard to comment as I didn’t spend enough time flicking switches – I just wanted to get out on the track). The heritage ‘lozenge’ quilted pattern ‘14 way adjustable’ leather sports seats hug you in literally every way possible, they are extremely comfortable and also ‘track ready’. For a two seater it feels quite roomy and there is plenty of tech to keep you entertained – again I didn’t spend enough time pushing buttons.
With the briefing out of the way, it was time to hit the tarmac. First up were a few track familiarity laps in the XE S. On any other day taking this car around the track and being told to ‘push it to under/oversteer in the sweeper’ would have been a thrill, but all it did was further whet the appetite for the SVR. In saying that though, I was surprised and a little relieved at how well the sedan handled – it corrected all the steering abuse with ease.
Back in the pits, it was a straight jump from one car to the other and under the expert guidance from the team at Downforce it was time to let the cat out of the cage. On startup and revs; the SVR impressively Roars and Gunshot pops before settling into a constant seductive Growl, it’s an aural delight. We started off in Normal driving mode for the first lap but with the exhaust baffles open – no neighbours to annoy. Even in normal, the SVR wants to push you deep in your seat as you accelerate off the mark. All four wheels feel well planted in corners and the sound from the exhaust that resonates throughout the cabin as the revs increase is quite addictive. I have to admit to buttoning off on the straight first time out as I got settled but I needn’t have worried, the SVR was more than capable of making up for my shortfalls.
Second lap, up a driving mode and up the speed. Under the tuition of the instructor, we hit the corners harder and the straights faster with my confidence building almost as quick as the cat itself. There was not a hint of the SVR stepping out even when I was eagerly stepping on the throttle or staying on the brakes too long when starting to turn (I evidently need more track time).
By lap three it was on to Dynamic Mode. The suspension tightens further, steering response is upped, the rear wing tilts and the speed moves to mind warp. The run up Hampton’s straight was achieved in what felt like a blink of an eye, the engine felt even more alive (as did the exquisite note from the exhaust), it was a total adrenaline rush. Exiting any of the track’s corners became an event; as rather than easing on the gas I stamped on it, the tyres sang along with glee! I guess I must have been caught up in the excitement a little too much as I nearly forgot to brake before the drop off (end of the home straight), thankfully the SVR’s Carbon Ceramic brakes came to the rescue, dropping off enough speed for the Coupe’s 4 wheel drive to take us safely round the bend (a place my mind was already going). Again, I have to tell you, despite the very late braking, I felt in total control of the SVR.
A couple of laps later it was time to hit the pits again – track time over.
Make no mistake, the F-Type SVR is a wild animal but you don’t need a whip and a chair to control it. It’s taken a few days for the giggle to come off my face and to be honest that is what any car of this ilk should do to you. Stunning good looks ooze from every angle of this Coupe with luxury and refinement adorning its cabin core. It has the ability to ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ between an ‘almost civilised’ eye-catching head turner that has a near madness super speed dark side – all with such unbelievable poise and balance. Then of course; to top it off there is the V8 sound, that near deafening roar that you seriously can’t get enough of.
If this is a sign of what happens after being ‘Sent to Coventry’, I think the ticket line will soon be around the block.
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