Life is made up of choices, some being of a more practical nature and others less so. The 2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible could be seen as the antitheses of the latter category, although it represents such great value for what it is, that you might think otherwise after reading this review.
Fortunately, over my 20-plus-year writing career I’ve had opportunity to test some of the most coveted sports cars available, from tiny, high-revving Lotus to thundering Vipers, plus others like the relatively inexpensive Mazda MX-5 to a somewhat otherworldly $2 million-plus Bugatti, so therefore with all this in perspective the 2020 F-Type SVR’s entry price of $141,700 for the Coupe and $144,700 for the Convertible merely sits on the lower side of high-end, and thus quite reasonable.
Right about now, some will look at the SVR’s mid-six-figure price range and eagerly want to read on, possibly learning for the first time just how affordable this fabulous looking, potently-powered sports car is, while others my just continue to read out of interest, knowing there’s absolutely no way they’d spend the equivalent of a house down-payment on a car, at least not until some of their key investments start paying dividends again.
Speaking of iconic six-figure performance cars, I’ve enjoyed many Porsche 911 Turbos over the years, not to mention a plethora of other body styles and trims stemming from this quintessential sports car, and all have provided thrills aplenty. The 911 is a key rival to the F-Type, with the Turbo and Turbo S its pinnacle trim lines. The SVR is the same for Jaguar’s F-Type, and I’ve spent many weeks behind the wheel of the latter as well. In fact, I’ve enjoyed weeklong tests with 2018, 2019 and 2020 F-Type SVR models, the first two being coupes and the most recent a convertible.
I personally tend to lean toward coupes more often than their open-air variants, mostly because the aesthetics of a fixed roof appeal to my senses, but also because I (like you) live in Canada, and only have opportunity to drop the top a few months of the year (especially lately, as our winters have been colder and summers shorter). Still, there are a number of reasons I could be pulled in the direction of this Madagascar Orange-painted F-Type SVR Convertible, the sound emanating from its tailpipes certainly high on the list.
Don’t get me wrong, the hardtop version provided nearly the same rasping exhaust note from its titanium Inconel tailpipes, but it was easier to hear when the triple-layer Thinsulate fabric roof was powered down. Both squeeze Jaguar’s 5.0-litre V8 between the strut towers as well, but the wind-in-the-hair sensation provided by the roadster somehow makes its 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque feel stronger.
I drove with the top down through most of my summer sun-soaked test week, and while I wasn’t ever tempted to find out what category of whirlwinds ensued inside the cabin after 3.7 seconds of zero-to-100-km/h sprint time was quickly left behind and its 314-km/h (195-mph) top track speed was attained (the coupe is good for 322 km/h or 200 mph), it nonetheless provided nonstop stoplight thrills, outrageously quick highway passing manoeuvres, and canyon careening capabilities like few cars available.
Power comes from Jaguar’s AJ-8 eight-cylinder engine, a well-seasoned veteran that’s been around (in one form or another) since 1997, and while fuel economy isn’t its strong suit (if anyone driving this car cares, it’s rated at 15.6 L/100km in the city, 10.4 on the highway and 13.3 combined), straight-line performance and an adrenaline-inducing exhaust note are.
As you can clearly see, styling is another F-Type strength, even when this car’s long, reverse-hinged “bonnet” is lightly filled with its standard turbo-four, but the SVR delivers even more visual highlights than lower-end models thanks to a generous helping of aerodynamic components and trim made from ultra-light, super-strong carbon fibre.
Likewise, for the interior that comes standard with a greater sense of occasion than most peers. It’s downright stunning thanks to perforated Windsor leather that’s quilted into a gorgeous diamond-like pattern on both the inner seat panels and door insets, as well as solid leather with contrast stitching elsewhere. What’s more, a plush suede-like micro-fibre covers much of the dashtop, headliner and each sun visor, while carbon fibre and beautifully detailed brushed and bright metals tastefully highlight all the right places. The F-Type SVR’s cabin clearly looks British, but its design is more modern (there’s no wood) than the old parlour club atmosphere the brand used to be known for.
Jaguar has made even longer strides in digital infotainment in recent years, with the F-Type’s primary instruments not yet wholly digital yet still filled with a large, colourful multi-info display stuffed between a glorious set of analogue dials. It includes the majority of functions found on the centre touchscreen, is no problem to read, and easy to scroll through with the steering wheel switchgear.
The just-noted centre-mounted infotainment system is even easier to use and filled with attractive high-definition graphics, as well as loads of useful functions such as navigation, audio/media with satellite radio, Bluetooth, climate controls, a multi-view camera, apps, and Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Even better, Jaguar’s My Dynamic Setup page allows the setup of individual drive system combinations, so you can have top performance of the engine and transmission, along with a softer suspension setting, or vice versa. This can be ideal for fast-paced travel on rougher roads, where a firmer suspension would actually slow you down.
Although similarly powerful, the Porsche Turbo I mentioned earlier is quite a bit faster than the F-Type SVR off the line, and both feel very different when pushed hard on the track or on a winding country backroad. This said the German car isn’t necessarily more fun to drive quickly, especially if a car’s engine and exhaust note makes a difference to your driving enjoyment.
I’ve gone on about the F-Type SVR’s auditory delights too much already, so for now will focus on the car’s lightweight, rigid aluminum body structure and nicely sorted aluminum suspension setup, that’s wonderfully reactive to subtle inputs at high speeds. Likewise, my tester’s optional carbon ceramic brakes combined ideally with the SVR’s 20-inch alloy wheel/performance tire combo to stop the car in short order, making brake fade a non-issue. The F-Type SVR is an amazingly capable car if you’re bold enough to test its outer limits, but once again I’m not going to imply it’s at the same level of extreme performance as a current 911 Turbo. Still, for those with performance driving skills, the Jaguar can be even more fun.
Now that we’re comparing the two cars (and there are a number of others that could be added to the list, so by all means don’t limit your shopping to just two), the 2020 F-Type SVR is a superb deal when placed beside the new 911 Turbo. As noted earlier, the British car starts at a mere $141,700 in Coupe form or $144,700 as a Convertible, compared to a respective $194,400 and $209,000 for the regular Porsche Turbo (there’s an even quicker Turbo S above this that costs considerably more). As noted, the 911 Turbo is much faster off the line, with the F-Type SVR more in line with Porsche’s 911 Carrera S and 4S models that start at $132,700, but let’s not forget that there’s a great deal more to sports cars like these than performance.
Case in point, some much less expensive Ford Mustangs are equally fast, while the all-new mid-engine Chevy Corvette can sprint from zero to 100km/h in the high-two range. Of course, I’m not trying to compare the F-Type or 911 to a Mustang or even the ‘Vette, but I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at. Along with its strong performance, the F-Type SVR provides a level of decadent luxury few cars in any price range can compete with, not to mention beautifully crafted metals, exposed carbon fibre trim inside and out, plus much more.
Making things better, a quick glance at our 2020 Jaguar F-Type Canada Prices page shows up to $8,950 in additional incentives available to those purchasing the car right now. If you’d rather go with the mid-cycle updated 2021 F-Type, it’s already being offered with up to $6,000 off, and while we’re talking about the 2021, Jaguar isn’t offering an SVR version yet, but instead boasts the same 575-hp V8 in the lesser F-Type R. This trim starts $20,400 lower down the price range for the coupe too, or $20,800 for the 2021 R Convertible, but don’t expect to get all of the SVR’s upgrades. I’m guessing a more formidable F-Type SVR will arrive soon, so stay tuned.
All in all, today’s 2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR is a superb offering from one of the oldest, most respected premium brands in the industry, and I think it’s very well priced for everything you’re getting.
Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo editing: Karen Tuggay