All-new Mercedes CLA promises big improvements when it arrives this fall

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Say hello to the fabulous looking new 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Since arriving on the subcompact luxury scene six years ago, the Mercedes-Benz CLA has been in a constant sparring session with Audi’s A3, but when the challenger from Ingolstadt said so long to its conventionally-powered five-door hatchback and we all said hello to an entirely new four-door sport sedan, the four-ringed brand has enjoyed a slight sales lead over its sporty four-door coupe competitor. 

Of course, M-B and Audi aren’t the only two battling it out for entry-level premium car customers, with Mercedes’ very own B-Class MPV luring in plenty each year from its faithful following, not to mention Acura with its ILX sedan, BMW with its 2 Series coupe and convertible, etcetera, but the problems facing this class aren’t as simple as a handful of rivals doing their best to one-up each other anymore, but rather getting noticed in a luxury market that’s a lot more about SUVs than anything that hugs the pavement so closely. 

For this reason we’ve all got to give Mercedes a round of applause (or maybe a standing ovation) for courageously hitting back with myriad car models in most every luxury segment while others are fleeing. In fact, Mercedes will soon offer more models within the subcompact luxury sector than some competitors have cars, period. Perhaps we can chalk this up to being in the automotive industry longer than any rival, a reality that provided experience through plenty of changes in market sentiment, or possibly it’s just plain stubbornness, but whatever the reason, this German brand not only offers six sedans, two wagons, seven coupes, and six convertibles for a total of 21 different body styles you can purchase right here in Canada, right now, but on top of these the Stuttgart-based marque will be adding the A-Class sedan later this year, bumping its car count up to 22, a mind-blowing pavement-hugging lineup in an auto market that’s supposedly only purchasing high-riding SUVs these days. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With completely new styling from front to back, the new CLA provides a more aggressive new look that’s bound to excite compact luxury buyers. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Of course Mercedes-Benz, Canada’s number one-selling luxury automotive retailer, is capable of filling nearly every niche anyone can conjure up because of its enviable brand equity. Build it and they will come, or so the paraphrased saying goes, and for the most part it’s true. Just look at this subcompact luxury car sector that most brands aren’t even participating in. Mercedes’ B-Class has been attracting entry-level buyers since 2005 when it arrived as a 2006 model, while the same Canadian M-B retailers have been selling the CLA since 2013 (check out pricing and more for the current CLA-Class right here on CarCostCanada now), and the new A-Class hatchback since January. 

Through the first two months of 2019, Mercedes’ collective subcompact luxury sales (including the B-Class) tallied up to 606 units, which dwarfed the 350 Audi A3s sold into the same market, let alone BMW that only managed to sell 139 2 Series and i3 models during the same two months, and as noted we haven’t even seen sales from the lower priced M-B A-Class sedan kick in, or for that matter this entirely new CLA four-door coupe that will hit the streets this fall, building on a success story that’s been pretty impressive so far. 

“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupe in the compact class,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
These are by far the most complex LED headlamps in the subcompact luxury sector. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Interestingly, more than two thirds of Canadian CLA buyers were new to Mercedes during that model’s peak sales stint, while it’s also critical to point out that these new M-B owners were seven years younger than the brand’s usual average age of clientele. Later this year Canadians will be given the choice of four recently updated or completely new subcompact models (five if you divide the A-Class into its current hatchback and upcoming sedan body types), with this CLA being the most expressive, and sportiest in the collection, and plenty of these newfound Mercedes owners will more than likely stay with the brand when it comes time to trade in and escalate up to fancier more profitable models within the lineup, as their income increases with age and experience. 

“The new CLA is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor,” continued Seeger. “Coupled with new operating systems, it sets a new benchmark for the entire class.” 

There’s a very big reason Mercedes chose the Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to debut its new CLA last January, the massive Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment interface that, together with its integrated digital instrument cluster, spans much of the car’s instrument panel, but its attractive new styling caused more of an initial crowd. 

Most should agree the new CLA looks more mature due to its seemingly stern forward-slanting sport grille design, which Mercedes claimed is “reminiscent of a shark’s nose” in its press release. Found in front of a lengthier hood highlighted by sculpted “powerdomes”, the new grille is bookended by a more angular set of LED Multibeam headlights incorporating 18 individually-controllable LED elements, all hovering above a more intricately detailed lower front apron. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Like the headlights, the new CLA’s LED taillights are hardly short on signature lighting elements. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Additionally, the new CLA boasts muscled up side panels with flared fenders, while its entire roofline has been positioned farther toward the rear for a more traditional GT design. The more conventional look continues at the back thanks to a rectangular trunk cutout between totally new LED tail lamps that, like the lenses up front, are narrower and laid out higher and more horizontally for a wider overall appearance. Not only fresher and arguably better looking, the extensively wind tunnel-tested 2020 CLA is now much slicker through the air resulting in a 0.23 coefficient of drag. 

“As a four-door coupe, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched hood, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “In short, the CLA Coupe has the potential to become a modern design icon.” 

The updated CLA’s interior is obviously focused on a younger customer, the vivid orange highlights of the show car and sizeable conjoined digital displays right out of the iPad, Surface and Galaxy Tab playbooks. The fixed-freestanding widescreen combination includes a gauge cluster to the left, which removes the need for an instrument hood altogether, and an infotainment touchscreen to the right, the latter controlled by Mercedes’ trademark palm-rest and new touchpad (the scrolling wheel is gone) on the lower console. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA’s dash design makes everything else in the subcompact luxury segment look old. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Do-it-yourself shifting comes via a set of paddles behind the 9 and 3 o’clock positions of the beautifully detailed leather-clad flat-bottom sport steering wheel, while above the previously noted infotainment controller is an elegantly thin climate control interface. Lastly, if that mammoth display didn’t first tug at your eyeballs, the stunning turbine-style circular HVAC ducts across the dash certainly should have. 

Back to the mother of all in-car electronic interfaces, which was actually introduced in the new A-Class a year ago and E-Class before that, the graphically stimulating multi-information display and surrounding digital dials sits next to Mercedes new high-resolution MBUX infotainment system as noted earlier. Along with fully customizable displays, Augmented Reality navigation that reportedly provides a much more realistic mapping system plus more, the new system’s computing power is greatly enhanced over the CLA’s outgoing system, and even features software that can “learn and respond to natural speech,” said Mercedes-Benz. 

If you’ve ever struggled to get a voice activation system to understand your prompts you may be glad to hear this next bit of news, because M-B’s new voice assistant is said to communicate more closely to Amazon Alexa, with the simple prompt of “Hey Mercedes” leading to more capability than any other in-car voice system offered thus far. What’s more, it’s intelligent enough to recognize the speech patterns of the individual asking the question, even when others are engaged in a different conversation. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The MBUX system’s graphics are so mesmerizing you might just find yourself driving off the road. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“The latest version of voice control for MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – can be experienced in the new CLA. For example, the voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ is able to recognize and answer considerably more complex queries,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for CASE and Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility. “What’s more, the voice assistance no longer gets confused by other passenger’s conversations. Instead it only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system.” 

Additionally, Mercedes says their new MBUX voice assistant can even recognize and respond to more complex indirect questions, such as “Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops,” for example. It can also manage a greater assortment of subjects, with other press release-cited examples including “Hey Mercedes, How did the Toronto Raptors play?” when referencing sports news, or “How has the Apple share price performed compared to Microsoft?” for its take on business news. If you need a quick calculation, MBUX can do that for you too, with the example given being, “What is the square roof of 9?” while Mercedes provided the questions “How big is Texas?” and “What is the fat content of avocados?” for the general knowledge category. 

While some potential buyers may ante up for the new CLA just to for MBUX alone, plenty of others will appreciate the car’s larger overall size. It now measures 48 millimetres (1.9 inches) longer at 4,688 mm (184.5 in), while its wheelbase has been stretched by 30 mm (1.2 in) at 2,729 mm (107.4 in). Additionally, it spans 53 mm (2.1 in) wider at 1,830 mm (72.0 in) without the side mirrors, and finally its roofline is 2 mm (0.1 in) lower at 1,439 mm (56.6 in). 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With infotainment that rivals the best of today’s tablets, the new CLA should appeal to younger buyers and the young at heart. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

As you can guess it’s more accommodating inside, but while those up front enjoy 17 mm (0.6 in) of additional headroom, and rear passengers get 3 mm (0.1 in) more space overhead, whereas shoulder room has been improved by 9 mm (0.3 in) up front and 22 mm (0.8 in) in the rear, plus front to rear elbow room grows by 35 and 44 mm (1.4 and 1.7 in) respectively, front legroom has actually shrunken by one millimetre, while legroom in the back seat lengthens by just a single millimetre as well. 

The cargo compartment is smaller too, but just by 10 litres (0.3 cubic feet) to a still-sizeable 460 litres (16.2 cu ft), while on the positive the new CLA’s squarer trunk lid width increases by a whopping 262 mm (10.3 in), plus the load floor was widened by 113 mm (4.4 in) wider and deepened by 24 mm (0.9 in). 

Lift the opening at the other end and you’ll once again find a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine underneath, and while Mercedes hasn’t shared performance figures for its most affordable CLA 250 variant yet, it will likely measure up to the new A 250 Hatchback, which makes 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for a 13 horsepower gain and identical twist. Putting power down to the front wheels or 4MATIC all-wheel drive is Mercedes’ in-house 7G-DCT twin-clutch automated gearbox, with a beefed up version of the transmission and standard AWD expected to be included in the (finger’s crossed) AMG variant, the current performance model good for 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
An elegantly thin HVAC panel floats above the CLA’s minimalist lower console, replete with an all-new touchpad infotainment controller. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

An increased dimension not yet mentioned is track width, which is up a healthy 63 mm (2.5 in) at the front wheels and 55 mm (2.1 in) in the rear, while the CLA also benefits from a lower centre of gravity, all of which should combine for a big improvement in overall performance. Additional chassis improvements include a Direct-Steer system and hydromounts up front, while the rear suspension includes a decoupled multi-link axle that reduces NVH, plus bigger stabilizer bars for reducing body roll. Lastly, 18-inch wheels shod in 225/45 tires should come standard, while 19-inch alloys wearing 225/40 rubber will be available. 

And what about advanced driver assistance and safety systems? Standard with the CLA will be Active Brake Assist, while Active Lane Keep Assist, which helps to centre drivers within their lane and prevents them from unexpectedly veering off the road, will be optional by choosing the Intelligent Drive Package that also incorporates Pre-Safe Plus with rear traffic warning and an automatic backup braking system. 

Also notable, the Intelligent Drive Package, which debuted in Mercedes’ flagship S-Class, can pilot the CLA autonomously in certain circumstances, but Mercedes is quick to point out that this semi-autonomous system still needs “cooperative driver support,” or at least it will until its many advanced functions are allowed to work on their own. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
M-B adds a lot more width to new CLA’s interior. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Produced in Kecskemét, Hungary, the redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA should help increase Mercedes’ command of the subcompact luxury car market when it joins the new A-Class sedan for autumn 2019 availability (find new A-Class Sedan and Hatchback pricing and more right here on CarCostCanada now), not to mention the A-Class Hatchback, GLA-Class subcompact crossover SUV and who knows what else (but according to Mercedes more are coming), and by so doing secure an entirely new generation of three-pointed star devotees. 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Hot new 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé unveiled

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
The new 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé promises dramatic new styling on an already impressive performance SUV platform. (Photo: Porsche)

Ask anyone into cars which automaker makes the sportiest SUV, and Porsche will likely top the list more often than not. Whether we’re talking performance or styling, its Cayenne utility has long been considered one of the strongest performers in its mid-size luxury class, but that fact hasn’t stopped the German performance brand from producing an even sportier crossover model for 2020. Introducing the new Cayenne Coupé, a sharper more exciting version of the current Cayenne, designed to go head-to-head with the BMW X6s and Mercedes GLE Coupés of the world. 

Before the Cayenne arrived on the global luxury SUV scene in 2002, BMW’s X5 was touted as the sportiest premium utility. The Cayenne, particularly in Turbo form, trounced all over the X5’s turf, but BMW arguably returned to the topmost podium spot when the X6 Sports Activity Coupé arrived in 2007. 

With that sloped-back Bavarian SUV came a completely new niche market, solidified by the daringly different albeit mostly unloved (and therefore quickly cancelled) Acura ZDX in 2009, which was followed by the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupé in 2015, plus Lamborghini Urus in 2017 and Audi Q8 in 2018. 

The latter two models, together with the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, and Volkswagen Touareg, ride on VW group’s MLBevo platform, which is why it was only a matter of time before this Cayenne Coupé joined the fray. This said it’s quite possible for the new Porsche to earn even greater success than its familial rivals and other key competitors that came before, thanks to Porsche’s revered name and the model’s expected performance. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
A new lower roofline with a sweptback rear hatch provides distinctive rear styling that sets the new Coupé apart from the regular Cayenne. (Photo: Porsche)

When compared to their regularly sized siblings, an obvious downfall of all SUV coupe competitors is practicality, the lower rooflines lending to less cargo capacity, and while this is as true of the Cayenne Coupé as it is with the X6 and more spacious X5, plenty of luxury car buyers not wanting a traditional family hauler are looking to this niche segment as a more pragmatic alternative to their current sport sedan or sports coupe. What’s more, the very existence of the new Cayenne Coupé allows Porsche to upsize future generations of the regular Cayenne, potentially even providing a three-row version to go up against the seven-passenger X5. 

Changes from the redesigned 2019 Cayenne (which will remain unchanged for 2020) and the new Cayenne Coupé include a 20-millimetre lower roofline, including a new windscreen held up by shallower A pillars, plus narrower more pointed rear side windows, revised second-row doors skins, brand new rear quarter panels, and a reworked rear bumper, that last component now including an integrated license plate cutout. The new bodywork has resulted in 19 millimetres of increased width, which when combined with the Coupé’s lower ride height makes for a more aggressive stance overall. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
Active aerodynamics are incorporated for the first time in this niche SUV coupe class. (Photo: Porsche)

Yet more Cayenne Coupé upgrades include a special adaptive rear deck lid spoiler, separated rear seats for a four-occupant total, plus two roof choices starting with a standard 2.16-cubic-metre fixed panoramic moonroof with sunshade, or an available carbon panel for an even sportier look. 

That adaptive rear spoiler will be a first for the SUV coupe market segment, following in the footsteps of its bigger Cayenne brother in its more traditional mid-size luxury SUV category. The regular Cayenne uses an adaptive rooftop spoiler for its top-tier Turbo trim, whereas the active aerodynamic device will be standard on the new Cayenne Coupé, expanding by 135 mm (5.3 inches) when it reaches speeds of 90 km/h and beyond. Additionally, a rooftop spoiler pushes airflow down the sloping rear glass combines towards the active spoiler on the rear deck lid, further aiding the Coupé’s aerodynamics. This system, called Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA), increases downforce on the rear axle to provide better handling dynamics, while also improving high-speed efficiency to minimize wind noise and reduce fuel consumption. 

By the way, the carbon roof mentioned earlier will require an upgrade to one of three lightweight sport packages, which also feature a number of Sport Design features, as well as unique 22-inch GT Design wheels, hounds-tooth Pepita checked fabric seat inserts that’ll send your memory back to classic 911s and 928s, plus carbon and microsuede-like Alcantara interior trim. What’s more, the new Cayenne Coupé Turbo includes a sport exhaust system as standard equipment. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
A lightweight carbon fibre roof is now optional. (Photo: Porsche)

The enhanced exhaust system connects through to the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 as found in the regular Cayenne Turbo, capable of 541 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque, resulting in standstill to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds. This means the new Cayenne Coupé Turbo’s standing start will only be improved upon by the previously noted 650-horsepower Lamborghini Urus, which hits 100km/h in only 3.6 seconds, which leaves the 567-horsepower X6 M and 577-horsepower AMG-Mercedes GLE 63 S Coupé requiring 4.2 seconds each to accomplish the same 100km/h run. Notably the smaller compact AMG-Mercedes GLC 63 S Coupé charges from naught to 100km/h in a scant 3.8 seconds thanks to its 503-horsepower V8, while the 503-horsepower BMW X4 M needs 4.1 seconds to achieve the same speed. Those that dare live on the edge can tout bragging rights to a 286-km/h top speed for the Cayenne Coupé Turbo, incidentally. 

If ultimate speed isn’t your thing, and let’s face it, only those with a track nearby and enough time and money to rent it out for hot laps can take advantage without putting their license and new Cayenne Coupé Turbo in jeopardy, Porsche makes a less potent Cayenne Coupé available with an identical 335 horsepower turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 to the regular base Cayenne. This is where the new Audi Q8 fits into the scheme of things too, in case you were wondering, not to mention most of the above SUV coupes in their less formidable trims. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
The new Cayenne Coupé Turbo is one of the fastest entries in the SUV coupe segment. (Photo: Porsche)

The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine makes a healthy 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which is good enough for a 6.0-second sprint from zero to 100km/h in standard guise or 5.9 seconds when upgraded with one of its lightweight sports packages. The Sport Chrono Package, incidentally, is standard equipment with the Cayenne Coupé, which brings up an interesting point. When the regular base Cayenne is upfitted with its Sport Chrono Package, Porsche estimates its sprint time to 100km/h as 5.9 seconds, which strangely makes it 0.1 seconds faster to 100km/h than the new Cayenne Coupé. Additionally, the base Cayenne’s terminal velocity is 2 km/h faster at 245 km/h, the entry-level Cayenne Coupé’s only capable of 243 km/h. Are we making a mountain out a mole hill? Of course we are, but splitting such hairs is par for the course when it comes to this high-end, super-performance SUV arena, so we have every right to. 

Back to standard equipment, the new Cayenne Coupé also gets speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), plus a set of 20-inch alloy rims, all of which will cause you to spend more when purchasing a regular Cayenne. 

Now that we’re talking money, the new 2020 Cayenne Coupé will be available from just $86,400 when it goes on sale later this year, while the significantly quicker Cayenne Coupé Turbo will start at $148,000, plus freight and fees of course. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
The Cayenne Coupé’s instrument panel is identical to the newly revised 2019 Cayenne’s dash design. (Photo: Porsche)

In its transformation from regular SUV to coupe, the new model also gets eight-way powered sport seats with beefier side bolsters, while passengers in back sit on cushions lowered by 30 mm (1.18 inches), allowing additional headroom to compensate for the lower rear roofline. 

The Cayenne Coupé’s tapering roof negatively affects its load hauling ability too, but to be fair it’s only down by 145 litres (5.1 cubic feet) when compared to the normally sized Cayenne. To that end the base Coupé can manage up to 625 litres (22.0 cu ft) of gear behind its rear seats, whereas the bigger model is good for 770 litres (27.2 cu ft). When dropping the 40/20/40 split-folding rear row, luggage capacity increases to 1,540 litres (54.4 cu ft) compared to 1,710 litres (60.4 cu ft) in the regular Cayenne, which is a difference of only 170.0 litres (6.0 cu ft). Therefore, while not as practical as the regular Cayenne, the new Coupé should be just fine for those moving up from a sport coupe or sedan. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupé
The Cayenne Coupé is strictly a four-seater, with its middle position replaced by a centre console bin. (Photo: Porsche)

On that note, those considering moving over to the Cayenne Coupé from a second-generation Panamera will appreciate an extra 125 litres (4.4 cu ft) of cargo room when comparing base trims, while owners of the Panamera Sport Turismo will benefit by 105 litres (3.7 cu ft) of extra cargo volume. 

Also important to note, the Cayenne Turbo Coupé’s cargo hold is 25 litres (0.9 litres) smaller than the base Cayenne Coupé at just 600 litres (21.2 cu ft) when the rear seats are in use, or by 30 litres (1.0 cu-ft) to 1,510 litres (53.3 cu ft) when they’re laid flat. 

The all-new 2020 Cayenne Coupé will arrive across Canada this fall, but is available to preorder from your local Porsche retailer now.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credits: Porsche

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR Road Test

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Tell me that the Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR isn’t gorgeous. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I’m not going to lie to you. As curious as I am to spend a given week with seriously important big market cars like the recently redesigned Toyota Corolla, and as interested as I am to find out how far I can go on a single charge with Kia’s latest Soul EV, nothing gets me out of my editor’s chair as quickly or as enthusiastically as a hopped up muscle car, a high-revving super-exotic, or something along the lines of Jaguar’s F-Type SVR, which might be the perfect combination of both. 

Regular readers will remember that I spent a blissful week with this very same car last year in its more eye-arresting Ultra Blue paintwork, so having this 2019 model gifted to me for yet another seven heavenly days was a welcome surprise made better due to its stealth Santorini Black bodywork that thankfully doesn’t attract quite as much attention. 

It’s not that I was embarrassed to be seen in it, quite the opposite of course, but rather that this car coaxes my most juvenile impulses from their hardly deep recesses all too easily, which can quickly get a person deep into trouble. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
What can we say? Simply stunning. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

How quickly? Well that depends on whether you’re thrown into a stupor or moved into action when first laying eyes on the F-Type SVR, as well as which sense moves you most. If you’re visually stimulated first and foremost, you might be stopped dead in your tracks as soon as it comes into view, but then again if your receptors respond more to an auditory trigger you’ll move right past first sight to initial startup, resulting in the rasp of one of the more sensational exhaust notes in autodom, which will either send you to the moon in a momentary daze or turn you toward the street to put some of that wound up energy to good use. 

I’m jaded, or maybe it’s just that experience tells me not to waste a moment gawking inanely at something I can relive later in pictures. Certainly one can recall memories of moments well spent, but the more one collects such moments makes recalling them a helluvalot easier. A quick glance of appreciation, out of respect, immediately followed by a quicker descent into a familiar body hug, the SVR’s performance seats are as wholly enveloping as they’re sinfully comfortable. Foot on brake pedal, finger on start button, mechanical machinations ignited and ahhh… glory hallelujah! What a sound! 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
We’re loving the finely crafted details. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Nothing roadworthy this side of an XJR-15 sounds as brutally raw, as purely visceral as an F-Type SVR being brought to life, that is until you’ve given the throttle a few more blips after opening up its two-mode titanium and Inconel active exhaust system via a wee little console-mounted button that makes a great big noise. Any sort of right foot twitch capable of spinning the crank above 4,000 revolutions per minute lets loose a cacophony of crackling barks and blats, the kind of song that’ll have gearheads singing along in dissonant unity, and zero emissions folks sneering. 

Allowing spent gases to exit more freely isn’t exactly the Tesla mantra, and to think the minds behind this wondrous high-test glutton are the very crew responsible for the Model X-beating I-Pace (well, it beats the entry-level Tesla crossover, at least). We’ve all got to love the bizarre dichotomy running rampant in today’s automotive market, where the cars we all lust after are paying for the ones that government mandates are forcing down our throats. 

Of course, thanks to companies like Jaguar and Tesla we’re all beginning to realize that going electric isn’t the end of motorized fun, but potentially a new beginning. Could there be an electrified F-Type in our future? Likely, and it’ll be the quickest Jaguar sports car ever. Still, the good folks at Castle Bromwich will need to expend terahertz levels of energy in their artificial sound lab to recreate the auditory ecstasy this SVR composes. Let’s hope they succeed, because we all know that as sensational as this 5.0-litre supercharged V8 sounds, and as fabulously fast as this Jaguar becomes when powered by it, the still impressive yet nevertheless 23-year-old AJ-8 power unit’s days are numbered. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Richly attired and it fits like a glove, the F-Type SVR delivers big in performance luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As it is, this 575 horsepower beast catapults from naught to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds before attaining the seemingly unattainable terminal velocity of 322 km/h (200 mph)—that’s 1.1 seconds quicker and 122 km/h (75.8 mph) faster than the I-Pace, in case you were wondering. Certainly a driver’s license would be unobtainable for the remainder of my sorry life if I were so foolish as to attempt the former speed on public roads, and being that no such track is long enough within close proximity of my home we’ll all just need to take Jaguar’s word for it. Suffice to say that zero to all other cars at the stoplight looking like tiny coloured dots happens all of a shockingly sudden, so you’d better gather your stunned thoughts, get into the game and prepare for upcoming corners or you’ll fast be shuffled off this mortal coil. 

Fortunately the F-Type SVR manages all roads serpentine as easily as it’s guided down the straight and narrow, its brilliantly quick-shifting eight-speed automatic as ideally suited to flicking up through the gears as for rev-matched downshifts. Remember when I mentioned muscle car credentials earlier? That was strictly referencing the engine, its prowess over undulating, curving backroads the stuff of mid-engine exotica. Just look at the meaty 305-section Pirelli P-Zero rubber at back and plentiful 265/35s up front, both ends supported by the lightweight aluminum chassis and riveted, bonded body shell noted earlier, and then factor in that suspension’s Adaptive Dynamics system, the electronic active rear differential, and the brake-sourced torque vectoring. Tap the carbon ceramic brakes to load up the front tires, enter the apex, add throttle and enjoy as the SVR’s backside locks into place while catapulting this leather-lined beast toward the next bend, a process I repeated over and over, as often as opportunity would allow. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
All F-Types get a new 10-inch touchscreen for 2019. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All said, you’d think something as fabulously fast as the F-Type SVR would be a handful around town, but that’s where its exotic nature ends and more upright practicality enters. It’s actually a very comfortable coupe to spend time in, while visibility is quite good considering its sleek greenhouse and thick C pillars. The 12-way powered driver’s seat and steering column fit my long-legged, short torso five-foot-eight frame well, and due to much more movement in all directions should provide good adjustability for all sorts of body types, and I certainly had no complaints from my various co-drivers. 

On the practicality question, Jaguar provides a large hatch opening for loading in all kinds of gear, with up to 408 litres (14.4 cubic feet) in total and about half that below the removable hard cargo cover. It’s beautifully finished, as one would expect in this class, but remember that unlike the old XK the F-Type is strictly a two-seater with no rear seats to fold, so there’s no way you’ll be able to fit skis or any other long items aboard, unless you slot them down the middle between driver and front passenger. 

I remember stuffing my significant other and kids into an XKR coupe years ago, and while its 2+2 grand touring profile wasn’t carried forward into the F-Type’s design, the interior’s fine workmanship and beautiful attention to detail continues. In fact, I’d say this SVR’s cabin is even better, with rich red stitching and piping providing colour to the otherwise black Suedecloth and quilted leather surfaces, while its electronic interfaces are beyond comparison. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
The 8-speed auto provides ultra-quick shifts, while paddles make doing so easier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Classic analogue dials flank a large 5.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display at centre, unchanged from past years, albeit the Touch Pro infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack is all new for 2019, growing from 8.0 to 10.0 inches in diameter and now flush-mounted without buttons down each side. It’s properly outfitted with navigation, a backup camera with active guidelines, Pro Services, InControl Apps, 770-watt 12- speaker Meridian surround audio, satellite and HD radio, and the list goes on, while Jaguar also added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for $300. 

You can get into a 2019 F-Type Coupe SVR for just $140,500, or go topless for an extra $3,000, either of which is a bargain when compared to the Porsche 911 Turbo that will set you back $43,700 more for the hardtop or an additional $54,700 for the drop-top. That easily pays for the aforementioned $13,260 Carbon Ceramic Brake Pack with plenty left over, which includes 398 millimetre rotors up front and 380 mm discs at back, plus massive yellow calipers encircled by a stunning set of 10-spoke 20-inch diamond-turned alloys. Plenty of options were included with my test car and a yet more, like LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, auto climate control, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keeping assist, comes standard, so make sure to check out all the 2019 F-Type trims, packages and options at CarCostCanada, not to mention rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Gotta love the SVR’s sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It’s difficult not to write an epic for such a phenomenal sports car, but instead of running on at the mouth I recommend you head to your local Jaguar retailer and ask them to start one up in the showroom or on the lot, turn on the switchable active exhaust, rev the throttle and then listen to the snap, crackle and pop of the exhaust. If you’re not raring to go for a drive after that, you might be better off moseying down the road to the Lexus store for a smooth, comfortable ride in ES 300 hybrid. 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay