I have driven a lot of cars in my lifetime — astonishing cars. (Such a hard job.) In fact, every car I’ve ever driven has been remarkably special to me — even if it was absolute crap. Any time I’m behind the wheel of anything I immediately suss out what I do and do not like — from comfort and steering feedback to ergonomics and styling, all the way down to even how much attention it draws. I keep a mental checklist, and a running list of best and worst overall. The worst was a Nissan Sentra; the best range from McLarens to Porsches to Lamborghinis to Cadillacs. But my favorite now very well may be the Jaguar F-Type SVR.
I’m able to choose favorites among a top-tier vehicular crowd, so in that context, a “favorite” has to carry a lot of weight. The Huracán coupe was brilliant, but I couldn’t possibly live with its fixed racing seats day in and out. The McLaren 570S was the most powerful attention magnet this side of presidential candidates. The Bentley I had last weekend was opulent and literally dreamlike.
Then there’s the F-Type SVR, Jaguar’s top-end offering. 575 supercharged horsepower, two seats, all-wheel-drive and loud — sonorous, crazy loud — in every way. (As you can see, this one is…very blue.) Personally, I prefer cars that are beautiful, artfully vocal, and that hold me in place, albeit luxuriously; I like a car that invites me to hoon it a bit. The SVR is all of those things: it wanted me to coax the rear end out when I was alone and entering the Queensboro bridge in the rain — I swear. The interior is plush (quilted leather will always win) without going overboard on the gizmos and geegaws. And it sounds fucking brutal.
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Torque: 516 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
MSRP: $126,000 (base)
This is what won me over most. The exhaust overrun — crackles and pops that explode from the rear when you lift off the gas and let the transmission slow you a bit — is so addictive that I still hear it when I close my eyes. The overrun is due to Jaguar‘s special weight-saving exhaust system, which, along with special wheels and high-tech materials throughout, saves a boatload of weight. I enjoyed the overrun to the point of obnoxious lunacy, unnecessarily downshifting into first early as I approached stoplights and letting them bang and crackle off buildings, setting off car alarms and turning many frightened and/or concerned heads.
All weekend long I’d lingered back to wait and watch parking attendants gingerly maneuver the Jag around garages, but that last day I turned back halfway down the block as though I was looking back at a new love.
The tailpipe music inspired a spectrum of reactions, including scowls from old, stodgy men and delighted, wide-eyed stares from kids at the Scarsdale Concours d’Elegance. I drove up to “participate” in the Concours as an exhibition car (I parked alongside an original E-Type and an Austin Healy twice my own age) and take in the high-dollar display of vintage and modern metal, from Shelby Cobras to Porsche 918 Spyders. Overall, people loved the Jag — especially the three-year-old girl who made her parents wait while she drew it with her crayons — though one man scoffed and wondered aloud why anyone would bring a new car to such a showcase event. (Of course, he hadn’t yet heard me start up and pull away.)
The F-Type wasn’t eligible for a prize, but it won me over more than I can express. The balance; the smooth aluminum shift paddles, with their rough-cut “+” and “-” symbols; the paint color; the power. But the sound — the sound is what made giving up the keys that final morning borderline unbearable. All weekend long I’d lingered back to wait and watch parking attendants gingerly maneuver the Jag around garages, but that last day I turned back halfway down the block as though I was looking back at a new love. And I guess I was looking at a new love. I guess I probably won’t ever see my thunderous Ultra Blue SVR again. But we’ll always have overrun. And at least I’ve got a new favorite.