Not everyone can be a New York driver. You need just the right amount of controlled aggression and instantaneous decision making to be able to deal with the countless cyclists, skaters, buses, delivery trucks, yellow cabs and ride share vehicles and fellow drivers brave enough to commute into the city from the outer boroughs. It also takes a certain type of car to be able to take the punishment from potholes, manhole covers, school speed bumps and naked roads. Enter the 2020 Jaguar F-TYPE SVR Convertible, a surprising candidate that actually feels at home in the Concrete Jungle.
With 575 horsepower, it's nearly impossible to fully unleash this beast in traffic and anywhere inside the five boroughs. But that doesn't mean you can't hear it prowl. Upon ignition, you can immediately hear and feel the 5.0L V8 purr to life with a deep roar. That growl grows deeper once you enable the semi-automatic "S mode" - where you can use either the shifter or paddles on the steering wheel to hit the next gear. Just lift off the gas slightly and the downshift unleashes another loud storm of booms.
What you do find yourself constantly in need of and extremely appreciative of in the streets and along the Long Island Expressway (LIE), Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and numerous bridges are the brakes. The stopping power on the SVR is extremely sensitive to the touch and it's a very welcome feature in the stop-and-go ebb and flow traffic on NYC. It's not only useful for close bumper to bumper traffic but great for slowing you down immediately from highway speeds to exit ramp jam ups.
While you get the low height of a classic sports car from this convertible, the ride isn't as bumpy as you'd expect and the clearance of the car isn't as low as you think initially as well. The vehicle easily cleared potholes and speed bumps without having to do the zigzagging maneuvers lowered cars of this caliber would require. Having all-wheel drive also helps the car eat corners and keep rubber on asphalt in even the toughest driving conditions like torrential rain (which we experienced one of the nights we had the car).
Moving from the outside towards the interior, the detailing of the car is very well put together and thought out. Both the driver and passenger seats have memory settings and built-in in-seat cooling and heating controlled via the main console. Three knobs to control the air conditioning and heating in the center console keeps things simple and effective while the center panel for the AC retracts into the dash when it isn't being used, clearing a sight line for the driver in the low profile car.
Having two analog dials complemented with a customizable digital display in the middle of the driver's dash makes it even more convenient to have everything you want in front of you while you're on the move. One of our favorite features as small as it may seem, was the glove compartment button. Extremely clean and to the point, it locks when the top is down and is easier to operate than the lever versions.
Having Apple CarPlay capabilities and its own in-house USB/Bluetooth connections in the center armrest make the car both iOS and Android friendly. The button to bring the top down is also conveniently located with the muffler silencing button which helps you roll back home late at night unnoticed and unbothered by law enforcement. Finally, a door handle that pushes in when you want to lock the car and automatically brings in the side view mirrors is a feature that definitely should be on every vehicle made.
The "baller effect" of the car is immediately evident from the pedestrians breaking out cell phone cameras on the streets hoping to catch a quick snap to the valet attendants trying to hide their grins if you leave the car with them for more than a few minutes. For us, 34th Street Herald Square was where most of the notable moments happened.
While getting stuck in traffic at the crosswalk on 34th Street and Broadway, we had one elder gentleman ask us what type of car we were driving, how much it cost and where he could get one. Immediately following that conversation, a lady in a neck brace broke her neck looking over and whispered "beautiful car" to us. Finally, at the end of that seemingly endless two minutes stuck in human traffic, we had a whole group of girls just smile and wave at us.
The car's profile speaks for itself but having the Ultra Blue paint job from the factory definitely helped bring the car added attention. Also the fact that this isn't a car you see often provided lots of Q&A exchanges and fun conversation with strangers. Our ultimate takeaway was how the car spoke towards the generational differences in the value of a dollar. An old couple thought the car cost upwards of $200,000 while a few teenagers and millennials thought the car retailed for less than $100,000. The actual retail price of the one we tested was almost exactly in the middle, closer to $150,000.
It was interesting to gauge just how the value of money is perceived through the eyes of different generations while driving this car. But if money is no object to you, this is a monster worthy of conquering the city on both the weekdays and weekend. Head over to jaguarusa.com to build your own starting at $126,700. And don't forget the sunscreen for those fresh top down summer days.