When Jaguar announced a new XE-based project from their Special Vehicle Operation (SVO) division with the promise of it being the most powerful, agile, and extreme road car they’ve ever built, they had our curiosity. Following yesterday’s full reveal with all the glorious details, they now have our attention.
The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is Jaguar’s second SVO project (the first being the spectacular F-Type Project 7) and it takes the brand into the exciting world of super sedans for the first time with a 200 mph, 592-horsepower, all-wheel-drive beast. During the transition from standard Jaguar XE luxury sedan to record-breaking Project 8, SVO leveraged the standard car’s strong underpinnings and lightweight aluminum construction to produce an “extreme performance sports car with no compromise”.
There’s a lot to talk about here and it’s all good.
The engine, chassis, interior, and its exterior have all been thoroughly reworked and upgraded by SVO’s
slightly mad passionate engineers to create a balanced package that begs to be actually driven, and driven hard. There are a lot of adjectives thrown around in the press release to show just how much of a leap forward this is for Jaguar, so let’s start running down the list.
“Most powerful Jaguar road car ever” is made possible by the highest output 5.0-liter supercharged V8 in the Jaguar Land Rover arsenal. It’s been modified to produce 592 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque while also being carefully tuned to perform better at higher speeds. The engine breathes easier thanks to a bespoke air intake that’s fed by all those functional air ducts up front and exhales through lightweight Titanium Variable Active Exhaust – they say that provides a “phenomenal snarling soundtrack” and I’m inclined to believe them. Engine cooling is also greatly enhanced for track sessions.
“Fastest accelerating Jaguar yet” is achieved by a re-calibrated version of Jaguar’s eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox and their performance-oriented AWD system which helps with the 3.3-second 0-60 mph time. With 200 millisecond shifts and non-sequential shifting capabilities (such as going from gear 8 to 2 in an instant), the automatic won’t be holding anything back.
The AWD system is also partially responsible for making the Project 8 the “most agile Jaguar ever“. When combined with the Electronic Active Differential with independent rear wheel torque vectoring and the larger diameter front and rear driveshafts, it’ll be able to put more power down in more conditions.
Good old fashioned mechanical grip is provided by a double-wishbone front and Integral Link rear suspension as well as a range of other lateral stiffness enhancements made at both ends. Anti-roll bars are also fine-tuned and strengthened and new knuckles machined from billet incorporate ultra-high-performance Formula 1-style silicon nitride ceramic bearings which reduce unsprung mass, increase stiffness, improve steering response, and reduce friction. Never before has a Jaguar had something like this.
The Project 8 also features height-adjustable spring platforms with motorsport-specification coil springs and aluminum-bodied Continuously Variable Dampers and a choice of two ride heights: standard for road and -15mm for track use.
Sustained braking performance is accomplished by a Carbon Ceramic Brake system, another first for Jaguar (note: this isn’t the same as the Carbon Ceramic Matrix system on the F-Type SVR). CCB consists of 15.7″ two-piece front discs with six-piston aluminum calipers and 15.6″ two-piece rear discs with single-piston sliding calipers. Safe track braking is further guaranteed by motorsport-grade Synthetic Racing Fluid. The CCB system is also used for Torque Vectoring by Braking to help reduce understeer by independently braking the inside wheel in corners – when combined with the Electronic Active Differential at the rear wheels mentioned earlier, this sort of has four-wheel torque vectoring.
Fundamental to the performance of “the most track-focused car SVO [and probably Jaguar] has ever produced” is a wide range of functional modifications to the XE’s aluminum body. Only the roof and front door skins have been left untouched. What’s new is a carbon fiber front bumper with more cooling ducts (including what are essentially factory speed holes), a vented carbon fiber hood, flared bodywork, 20″ forged aluminum alloy wheels, adjustable front splitter, flat underbody, rear carbon fiber diffuser, and adjustable rear wing.
Nothing that was just mentioned is there just for style’s sake. If there’s a duct or a vent on this car, it’s there for a reason.
Only adding to its track-focused nature is a down to business interior free of distraction and upgraded for performance driving. The Project 8 is only available with a four-seat configuration and each passenger gets more lateral support. The two front seats feature a magnesium frame and a unique performance design while the back seats ditch the middle seat for more lateral support through side bolstering and new seat squabs.
There’s Alcantara and special contrast stitching as far as the eye can see, as expected, and with an array of standard infotainment features, the cabin is not exactly barren either. And if you’re outside of the US you get those cool Sabelt racing harnesses and I guess a half roll cage option too in place of the back seats (I didn’t see them talk about it).
I think that pretty much covers all of it. The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 looks as if it’ll take performance sedans to new heights by offering the most comprehensive performance package I’ve seen to date. It has the power but also the aerodynamics and full chassis upgrades to make the most out of it.
Only 300 of these will ever be built and each will be assembled by hand at SVO’s Technical Center in Coventry, England. Now we all know that any car with this level of performance isn’t going to be cheap, but try £149,995 or roughly $193,000 on for size. Yeah, it’s that kind of car.
It’ll make its dynamic world debut this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.