Jan 112017
 

This is a review from the January/February 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this and other reviews of guitars and gear, plus features on the unique artistry and dedication of Tokyo’s ESP Custom Shop, Kentucky Headhunters lead guitarist Greg Martin and his fine vintage guitars; MLB pitcher/guitar collector/musician Jake Peavy and his efforts to help local musicians, disadvantaged youths, and military veterans; producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois and his passion for pedal-steel guitars, motorcycles, and recording technology… plus much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

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By Mike Daly

If one prevailing current has consistently swept through the ripples of postwar automotive design, it might be the idea of the so-called “prestige car.” Not necessarily a flagship but usually a well-appointed model of limited production, the prestige car has long provided automakers with an outlet to highlight their greatest capabilities and aspirations. From Buick’s 1953 Roadmaster Skylark roadster to the VW Group’s forthcoming Bugatti Chiron, successful manufacturers have rationalized the production of largely unprofitable boutique models to help sell their mass-market offerings. And as the term implies, these cars add a degree of status to the manufacturer’s cachet in the process.

So when Indian commuter-car giant Tata acquired British sports-car maker Jaguar from Ford in 2008, the newcomer from the Asian subcontinent wisely recognized the merits of this strategy. The culmination of that thinking recently crowned Jag’s defining model under the auspices of SVO, a new Special Vehicles Operation intended to hold court with departments like Porsche Exclusive and McLaren MSO.

As with any great supercar—and with a top speed of 200 mph, the F-Type SVR Coupe is undeniably that—a discussion of Jag’s new world beater starts with a good story. As the yarn goes, a midlevel stylist on the design team named Cesar Pieri had sketched a roofless single-seat F-Type with a head fairing like the ones used on Fifties sports-racing cars (more specifically, like the one on the three-time Le Mans–winning Jag D-Type, one of which recently sold for nearly $22 million). He did this merely as a fun exercise and probably thought little more of it as he tacked the handsome sketch to the side of his cubicle.

His initiative was soon recognized in momentous fashion, though, when Jag’s head designer, the accomplished Ian Callum, passed by his office and took note of the sketch, stopping to ask, “Hey, what’s that?” The junior stylist explained it was his interpretation of the legendary D-Type as expressed through a modern F-Type, and one can imagine the pregnant silence that must have followed. Callum loved the idea, and within five months the design was under limited production for racing customers under the name Project 7. That car’s specially tuned V-8, suspension upgrades, and aerodynamic tweaks have now been introduced to the production F-Type, resulting in the new SVR, the most powerful F-Type to date.

Intended to be more of a useable supercar than a track specialist, the SVR is available with a host of luxury options and sits atop Jag’s sports car range (the XKR and its brethren were quietly discontinued a few years back). Also available as a convertible, the F-Type SVR Coupe hits 60 mph from standstill in 3.5 seconds thanks to the latest supercharged incarnation of the company’s long-running 5.0-liter V-8. The protracted gestational development has paid off, as the blown motor now produces 575 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque, more than enough to get our test car skipping through the unpredictable curves and cow chips of Monterey County’s back roads during an exclusive Pebble Beach–timed introduction.

Jag used the iconic enthusiast car week on California’s central coast as an opportunity to showcase the F-Type SVR, which promises to be the first of several forthcoming SVR models. If the gawking Monterey hordes were any indication, Jaguar has a hit on its hands. Case in point: As I revved the throaty motor for a nearly begging teenage pedestrian, I thought he was going to wet his pants when the titanium exhaust system throatily sang above 4,000 rpm.

The farming back roads that circle Salinas, complete with 5 mph combines and scattered piles of fertilizer, offered an ideal obstacle course to demonstrate the SVR’s intelligent dynamic-stability-control system and optional $12,000 carbon-ceramic matrix disc brakes. With the SVR’s unflappable technology superimposed over the Steinbeckian backdrop (including the processing plant of the Estancia wineries!), the high-speed drive was akin to a surreal video game—Grand Theft Auto as imagined by social agrarians, perhaps.

Still riding the same short wheelbase that proved so pleasing during our F-Type Convertible review [futureusgalleryGA, January/February 2014], the SVR is impressively powerful yet eminently tractable. Like many such premium sub models, the car capitalizes on its extreme power by shaving weight where possible. A host of optional carbon-fiber upgrades can lower the SVR’s mass by as much as 110 pounds from the runner-up F-Type R coupe. Most notable among these elements is a $3,200 carbon-fiber roof, though with matching center console and exterior pieces (hood louvers, front spoilers, and venturi blades), the combined carbon options total almost $8,000.

Drive quality and road connectivity are outstanding, as expected, benefiting from a standard all-wheel-drive platform that features an intelligent differential. This allows the rear-wheel drive elements to speak for themselves during straight-line acceleration (aerodynamically aided by a spoiler that deploys at 70 mph), while applying varying shades of front-wheel torque as needed to assist with grip and oversteer during hard cornering. A ZF eight-speed “Quickshift” transmission actuated by extra-large wheel-mounted paddles ably handles shifting duties, and while the choice of a torque converter–based automatic gearbox may lack F1 credibility, it helps keep the F-Type SVR Coupe’s starting MSRP at a sub-exotic level.

There’s no doubt the F-Type SVR is a convincing challenger to that longtime object of sports-car perfection, the Porsche 911 Carrera, offering a front-engine Anglican antithesis of similar proportions and price to the Teutonic stalwart. If it succeeds in fanning the sales of Jag’s updated model lineup, one of unprecedented scale that now includes three sedans and an SUV, it would surely confirm the enduring power of the prestige car.

MSRP: Base, $125,950; at tested, $147,945
Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC, jaguarusa.com

This is a review from the January/February 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this and other reviews of guitars and gear, plus features on the unique artistry and dedication of Tokyo’s ESP Custom Shop, Kentucky Headhunters lead guitarist Greg Martin and his fine vintage guitars; MLB pitcher/guitar collector/musician Jake Peavy and his efforts to help local musicians, disadvantaged youths, and military veterans; producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois and his passion for pedal-steel guitars, motorcycles, and recording technology… plus much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

GA_Jan_Feb_2017

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Source: Guitar Aficionado