Love it or hate it, one thing that's undeniable about Los Angeles is that it's a true car town. Though it wasn't initially designed that way, the sheer size of L.A. combined with the lack of interconnected mass transit systems makes the use of an automobile essential for anyone who wants to check out the various points of interest found within the City of Angels in an amount of time that isn't measured in days.
Beyond practicality considerations, L.A. is also a city with a longstanding love of motoring. Hot rodding arguably got its start here in the 1930s, and Los Angeles has been the host of countless motorsport events over the decades—legal and otherwise—due in no small part to the epic scenery, favorable year-round weather, and abundance of great driving roads.
But what if you wanted to get a taste of it all in one day? Ideally, you'd want something like this 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe—fast and lovely to look at, but also comfortable enough to make the inevitable bouts with traffic easy to endure. With a supercharged 575hp V-8 underfoot, we set out to do a "loop" of the city that included stops at iconic locales in and around each major part of Los Angeles as well as some of the greatest driving roads one can find in the western United States.
Starting Point: Chinatown - Situated just northeast of Downtown, Chinatown has an aesthetic that's truly unique among L.A. neighborhoods and its centralized location makes it a great spot to get this lap started. Approaching it from the Pasadena side of the 110 as we did also gives one the chance to experience the first freeway ever built in America, a twisty, scenic section of tarmac that justifies turning on Dynamic Mode from the F-Type's toggle switch on the center console.
Doing so tightens up the steering, stiffens the adjustable dampers, raises the active rear wing, and uncorks the raucous titanium exhaust system by opening up butterfly valves in the pipes, thereby allowing every sonorous snap, crackle, and pop from the boosted 5.0L engine to be heard loud and clear. With the road relatively free of congestion in the early a.m. hours, we opted to dole out the shifts of the eight-speed automatic gearbox on our own as well, which requires bumping the shifter into Sport mode to enable the use of the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
But one thing Chinatown doesn't have is an overabundance of parking, so with body, mind, and vehicle thoroughly warmed up, we made haste for our first checkpoint.
Checkpoint #1: Randy's Donuts - Any trip filled with L.A. landmarks would be incomplete without a visit to the giant donut affixed to the roof of this Inglewood shop. There's a couple of different ways to get here from Chinatown; we opted to continue southbound on the 110 through South Los Angeles before heading westward on the 105.
Jockeying for position on L.A.'s freeways is often an exercise in assertive driving, so the F-Type's diminutive 176-inch overall length came in handy here, as did that rowdy exhaust system, which expressed our intentions to any nearby motorists in no uncertain terms.
Since Randy's Donuts is situated at the south end of L.A.'s west side, we were perfectly set up for a northbound cruise up the coast to the next two stops along our loop.
Checkpoint #2: Santa Monica Pier - Among the numerous coastline attractions in L.A., few are as iconic as the Santa Monica Pier. Recent years have seen the popularity of the pier grow substantially—particularly during the summer months. More than 60,000 people showed up for a free concert there in June 2017.
While it's a great place to people-watch and soak in the rays, it's not particularly ideal for those looking to open up the taps with their British sports cars, so we made haste up the coast.
Checkpoint #3: Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Mulholland Highway in Malibu - Heading north from Santa Monica, PCH only gets better with each mile. Getting to Malibu is kind of a trek from L.A. proper, but well worth the time for the picturesque coastline and the incredible roads that awaited us up in the hills.
One of the best sections of Mulholland Highway is the first few miles heading inland from PCH, where the traffic is sparse and the road itself is particularly entertaining. It also quickly connects up with other fantastic driving roads like Decker Canyon and Kanan, allowing one to choose his or her own path back to civilization along these exquisite ribbons of pavement.
This provided us with opportunity to put the F-Type SVR's all-wheel drive and braking systems through their paces, the latter of which was of the optional carbon ceramic variety on our tester, with six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons at the rear. While noisier than non-carbon ceramic discs, their ability to quickly dissipate heat meant consistent pedal feel and more than ample stopping power no matter what we threw at the Jag.
AWD has been standard on all V-8-equipped F-Type models for the past few years, and while it results in significantly less oversteer-inspired hooliganism for Jaguar's sports car, it also makes for a faster, more sure-footed machine, particularly on roads with dirt and loose gravel scattered about in various places. Sending power to all four corners allows the F-Type SVR Coupe to do the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, while the system's torque on-demand feature works with the active rear differential to provide handling that still tends to favor a bit of oversteer rather than the joy-ending understeer that afflicts some all-wheel-drive systems.
Checkpoint #4: The Hollywood Sign - After making our way back into the heart of L.A. from Malibu, we headed out to another frequent photo spot for visitors. The Hollywood Sign remains iconic for tourists and Angelenos alike, remaining relevant (and visible) enough to still remain a viable target for vandalism in 2017, which explains why folks are only allowed to get within a mile or so of the sign itself.
The dramatic bodywork and Caldera Red paint of the $147,950 F-Type SVR Coupe (as tested) certainly fit the bill here, attracting the attention of plenty of tourists hoping for an opportunity to pose with the car and the sign together. Alas, we had work to do! After a couple of blips of the loud pedal for the Jaguar's fans, we were headed to our next stop.
Checkpoint #5: Griffith Observatory - Only a few miles from the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory offers an incredible view of the L.A. Basin that extends from Downtown all the way to the coast, making this a mandatory stop for any L.A. sightsee-r. The observatory itself also houses an array of cool astronomy-related exhibits as well as several very large telescopes pointed at the heavens.
Bonus Checkpoint: Grauman's Chinese Theater - If you want to get the full scope of Hollywood tourist attractions and you're willing to brave the mania of Hollywood Blvd., Grauman's Chinese Theater is just a few miles from checkpoints 5 and 6. Not only can you catch a flick and have your picture taken with Batman and/or Michael Jackson, you're also not far from some of the great driving roads near this part of Hollywood, like Laurel Canyon Blvd. and the section of Sunset Blvd. that runs from Beverly Hills to PCH. However, it's more or less in the opposite direction of our last checkpoint and may add a significant amount of time to your lap, so this one's optional.
Checkpoint #6: Angeles Crest Highway - Although our last checkpoint is a bit of a hike from Hollywood, it's well worth the trip. Although Mulholland gets all the press, Angeles Crest Highway is a superior option for those who are in it for the driving rather than the name recognition.
Some 60 miles of fast, winding mountain road carves a path through the Angeles National Forest, connecting with other great stretches like Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Angeles Forest Highway. Just be sure to fill up the tank at the base of the mountain because once you've ventured a few miles into it, you'll be hard pressed to find a sign of life up there, let alone a gas station, and when it gets dark, your headlights will likely be the only source of light for miles.
But of all our stops on our One Lap of Los Angeles, the F-Type SVR Coupe is most in its element here, allowing one to really dip into the throttle on the long straights while giving the big brakes, active aero, adaptive dampers, and other go-fast hardware a thorough workout in the technical sections. Even tweaking the settings of the adjustable seat bolsters seems justified out here—you'll want to be kept firmly in place for the kind of driving that can be done on Angeles Crest.
We'd venture that by the time you make your way back down the mountain, you'll be ready for a well-deserved break in the action. Though undoubtedly an all-day affair, this massive loop around L.A. should give both visitors and locals a feel for parts of this massive city that they might not have been compelled to check out otherwise, as well as the knowledge of where to go out for a spirited drive when one grows weary of the urban sprawl.