by Jared Rosenholtz
Sitting proudly atop the Jaguar F-Type ladder of gorgeous sports cars, is the high-performance SVR Convertible. A 5.0-liter supercharged V8 delivers 575 horsepower, with a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds. This, then, is essentially supercar level performance, and it's thankfully coupled with a brilliant chassis and all-wheel-drive to deliver a breathtaking driving experience. Together with a retractable soft top, the F-Type SVR screams glamor as much as it screams performance from under the hood, thanks to the snarling V8. Of course, the basic F-Type has been around for a while, and there's more refinement to be found in its German competitors - notably the Porsche 911 Cabriolet - but can they really match the SVR Convertible's charm? It may be priced north of $100k and is, therefore, accessible to only a lucky few, but the SVR feels and looks truly special.
Jaguar has upgraded the F-Type's tech and safety features list, with a larger touchscreen for the Touch Pro infotainment system and driver-assist aids being added for the 2019 model year. Otherwise, with an all-new F-Type not too far off, the range continues for now without any major changes.
5.0-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
Building upon lesser F-Type convertibles, the SVR takes the aggression up a couple of notches with 20-inch wheels, a striking - but bordering on tacky - carbon fiber wing, and LED lighting for both the headlights and taillights. Quad exhausts with chrome tips, enlarged air intakes, and redesigned vents on the hood all set the hottest F-Type apart. Of course, the standard power-folding soft-top can be folded away at the touch of a button.
The SVR measures 176.2 inches in length, 51.5 inches in height, and 75.7 inches wide (excluding the side mirrors). The wheelbase is 103.2 inches long. By comparison, a Porsche 911 Cabriolet is marginally longer, but shorter and narrower. Curb weight is 3,792 lbs, the convertible SVR being just 33 lbs heavier than the coupe equivalent. This is a pretty impressive achievement in light of how much heavier convertibles typically are relative to their hard-top coupe counterparts.
There's no shortage of grunt from the 5.0-liter V8 supercharged engine. Peak outputs are mighty, with 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque on tap. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive is standard - and necessary - to contain all that power. A 3.5-second blast to 60 mph is over in a heartbeat, and it'll top out at 195 mph.
The sensation of speed is only enhanced over the coupe thanks to full access to that awesome exhaust note. The SVR accelerates with great intensity from a standing start and continues hauling hard at higher speeds. A lightweight titanium Inconel exhaust system not only enhances performance, but is partially responsible for the higher-pitched but no less thrilling tone. The transmission flicks through its eight gears swiftly.
While that big V8 can dominate the driving experience, the chassis dynamics deserve just as much praise. The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system will send torque to the front wheels when enough slip is detected at the back, which is just perfect if you ask us, as the SVR feels rear-wheel-drive but with the added security and composure of AWD.
It's all matched by a steering system that feels well weighted, with impressively sharp turn-in, and it's easy to alter its characteristics depending on the chosen driving mode. The feel overall is more muscle-car aggressive than a Porsche 911 precision tool, but the Jaguar is far from sloppy through the corners. The ride quality is undoubtedly firm, but stops short of being unbearable and is perfectly in line with the SVR's position as the sportiest and fastest F-Type convertible. It does, however, improve as the speed rises. What unfortunately soars with rising speeds is noise, from everywhere: the SVR kicks up plenty of a commotion from tires and wind. Together with that thunderous engine note, this isn't the place to be if a serene Sunday afternoon drive is on the agenda.
A big, powerful V8 is not a recipe for thriftiness. EPA rated figures for the SVR Convertible work out to 16/24/18 mpg city/highway/combined. You'll get more efficiency from a pricier Porsche Carrera GTS Cabriolet, which returns 20/26/22 mpg, although this model is down on the SVR's power output. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the SVR Convertible should manage a combined cruising range of around 333 miles.
The feel-good factor that builds as you walk up to the stunning SVR is matched by the interior's fixtures and fittings, which all feel suitably premium. Beautiful, quilted leather seats for two have a wide range of power adjustments and are both comfortable and supportive. However, larger-framed individuals will feel cramped - at least headroom is better than in the coupe thanks to the power-retractable soft top. There's also not a massive amount of foot space for either the driver or passenger. Ingress and egress are simplified when the roof is stowed, but is a bit of a chore when it isn't.
Even a quick weekend away is going to be a problem in the SVR Convertible, as there's only 7.3 cubic feet of trunk space, dropping to 5.3 cu.ft. if you opt for the space-saver spare wheel. With the roof down, there's only enough space for one or two grocery bags. It's a similar story inside, where small-item storage is limited. Narrow door pockets, cupholders that could be deeper, and a small center console don't amount to much. The standard glovebox is also on the puny side.
As expected at this price point, the SVR has an almost full house of interior features, although some items that you may expect at this price point aren't there. 12-way power-adjustable SVR-specific front seats, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, a rear backup camera, push-button ignition, keyless start, configurable ambient lighting, a power-folding soft top, power-folding exterior mirrors, and automatic headlights are standard. Dual-zone climate control is, surprisingly, available as an option, with a single-zone unit fitted instead. On the safety front, daytime running lights, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist are standard, but you'll have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring.
A larger touchscreen and a revised interface improve the F-Type's Touch Pro infotainment system, but it's still not quite class-best. Features include a ten-inch display, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input, HD radio, USB ports and Bluetooth. A Meridian 380-watt sound system is standard with a 770-watt surround sound version available. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren't yet available, with smartphone integration restricted to Jaguar's InControl app. Overall, despite the improvements, there is more work to be done before Jaguar's system can compete with Mercedes' MBUX and BMW's iDrive.
The 2019 F-Type SVR Convertible doesn't yet have a J.D. Power rating, although the 2017 model was rated 77/100, with the navigation system listed as one of the problem areas. In this segment, the Porsche 911 leads the way with ratings in the 90s, depending on the specific variant. The NHTSA, meanwhile, issued two recalls for the 2017 F-Type, one being for faulty seat belt pretensioners and another for a rear lower control arm connecting bolt which may fail. 2018 F-Types with Highline headlamps were also recalled for faulty turn signals that the vehicle would fail to warn the driver about. More recently, 2019 saw a recall for incorrect tire placard labels, while another saw the possibility of a crankshaft pulley bolt fracturing, which could cause engine failure.
Jaguar's basic warranty is for five years or 60,000 miles, while the same coverage is provided for the drivetrain and roadside assistance. There is also a six-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty.
The F-Type, like many premium sports cars, hasn't been evaluated for crash safety by either the NHTSA or the IIHS. However, the driver and passenger are protected by front and side airbags, while brake assist, a tire pressure monitor, and a front/rear parking aids are standard as well.
Jaguar appreciably added more driver-assist technologies to the standard features list for 2019. Lane-keeping assist, a driver condition monitor, traffic sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter, and emergency braking are all included. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and park assist, meanwhile, are on the options list.
In SVR specification, Jaguar's stylish F-Type is transformed from a boulevard cruiser into something a lot meaner. That supercharged V8 engine is one of the stars of the show, endowing the F-Type with not only supercar-rivaling performance but an irresistible charisma that makes every drive an occasion. Like many other Jaguars, the F-Type SVR also outdoes its clinical German rivals for sheer style and presence, with the design - both inside and out - drawing plenty of admiring glances. It also makes the most of its all-wheel-drive system to thrill in the corners, too. Still, Porsche and Mercedes owners are likely to point out the F-Type's compromised cabin and trunk space, its slightly clunky infotainment system, and a lower reliability score. If these practicalities matter to you, then by all means go knocking on the doors of the Germans. But the alluring F-Type SVR will always leave you wondering if you couldn't be having more of a blast.
An F-Type SVR Convertible has an MSRP of $125,850, making the privilege of top-down driving $3,950 more expensive than the equivalent SVR coupe. These prices exclude tax, licensing, registration, and a destination/handling charge of $1,025. The SVR is certainly not cheap, but a similarly powered Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster will set you back a scary $158,850.
If you want the most powerful F-Type Convertible, then the SVR is your only choice. There are, however, several optional packages which allow for further customization. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, an upgraded Meridian 770-watt sound system costs $870, blind-spot assist is $500, and a carbon fiber center console is $765.
For cooler climates, the Climate 2 Package is a worthwhile upgrade for $1,430, adding two-zone climate control, heated windshield, and heated and cooled seats. A luxurious Extended Windsor Leather Interior package costs $2,550, adding leather trim to the console and instrument panel. Being a high-performance sports car, there's no shortage of carbon fiber add-ons. The SVR Carbon Fiber Exterior Package adds the lightweight material to the mirror covers, power vents, the hood louvers, and more. An SVR Graphic Package costs $1,430, adding sporty decals and other bespoke exterior trim. Finally, for track use, the Carbon Ceramic Brake Package will require a whopping $12,240.
American muscle versus one of the best British sports cars. The Corvette presents an interesting alternative to the F-Type SVR, with a vicious V8 engine pumping out 650 horsepower to the rear wheels. The aggressive, extroverted Corvette isn't as pretty as the Jaguar, but it makes its presence felt with a wide stance and distinctive wedge shape. While acceleration is blistering, the SVR feels more secure thanks to the standard all-wheel-drive system. That said, the Corvette is faster pretty much everywhere thanks to that prodigious power output. The price differential is quite significant (the top-line Z06 Convertible is over $25k cheaper than the F-Type SVR), but you'll notice this in the cabin, where the American car isn't nearly as premium and plush as the Jaguar. The more sophisticated F-Type also has more standard and available driver-assist tech. If the Jaguar is a bit of a stretch and you prefer your performance with more of an edge, the Z06 is a desirable alternative. But the Jaguar is a superior all-round convertible with more polish to it.
One rung below the SVR sits the F-Type R Convertible. For $22,000 less, the R gives away just 25 horsepower, while still making use of that sensational supercharged V8. This makes it only four-tenths of a second slower to 60 mph than the SVR. There's also the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and slick eight-speed auto that's shared between the two. The SVR also gets a carbon-fiber spoiler, upgraded interior trim, and front parking sensors. Still, we're not absolutely sure that the SVR's enhancements and rather minimal power hike are enough to justify the price premium. We'd rather go for the perfectly capable and thrilling R Convertible, while adding around $10k of tasty options to sweeten the deal.