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Jaguar XE SV Project 8: Target Germany?

Jag states, right up front: “New Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sits at the pinnacle of performance sedans, with a thrilling mix of explosive power, dynamic agility, and all-wheel drive traction.” And I swear I could hear the engine roars and the howls of contempt from Stuttgart, Affalterbach, and Ingolstadt all the way out here in the middle of the desert.

Special Vehicle Operations

The XE SV Project 8 is Jag’s new hot performance sedan, and also the Coventry firm’s first foray with its new Special Vehicle Operations skunk-works to start encroaching into territory now occupied by the likes of AMG or BMW’s M Division and the like. I’m not saying Jaguar can’t do it, even when it comes to sedans. Jag did some impressive stuff with Mark 2s and Mark Xs (just ask the Kray twins or any other British hoods from back in the day), but that was when “Ferry Cross The Mersey” was a hit. And since then, when it comes to big, fast, nasty performance sedans, it’s all been pretty much going the German’s way.

To counter that, Jaguar has given their Special Vehicle Operations more or less free reign to produce the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sedan, a 592 horsepower, 200 mph beast of a car that Coventry says is “the most powerful, agile, and extreme performance Jaguar road car ever produced.” Which is saying a lot if you consider that Jag made cars like the XJ220.

The XE SV Project 8 sedan follows, more or less, in the footsteps of Jag’s F-TYPE Project 7 of 2014. The XE SV Project 8 is the second Collector’s Edition ride done up by SVO and is a hand-built, four-door sedan designed to kick butt, take names, and all that. Jaguar will make no more than 300 versions of the car globally, so it will be rare too.

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 utilizes torque vectoring control via the braking system to minimize understeer by independently braking inside wheels during cornering. It works with the Electronic Active Differential to precisely control torque delivery to the rear wheels. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Power & Performance

About that engine that is going to motivate the XE SV down to the pub? It would be the most powerful version of Jaguar Land Rover’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with a Titanium Variable Active Exhaust. The mill is hooked up to a re-calibrated version of the brand’s eight-speed Quickshift transmission and thence to a standard all-wheel drive system that can deliver a 200 mph top speed and a 0 to 60 time of 3.3 seconds. That makes the Project 8 the fastest accelerating Jaguar. Not just the quickest Jag sedan, the quickest Jaguar, period.

There’s a slew of lightweight and go-fast goodies appended to the Project 8. There’s a carbon fiber bumper with enhanced cooling ducts, a vented carbon fiber hood, and flared bodywork. The underbody is flat, there’s a rear diffuser, and the rear bumper is made from carbon fiber. The wheels are big 20-inch forged aluminum alloy bits and the front splitter is adjustable as is the rear aerodynamic wing. I love how Jag calls it an “aerodynamic wing.” I’m not sure whether that’s a sly British understatement and dig at other “wings” or not.

Carbon fiber is used extensively throughout the Project 8, for a total weight of 3,847 lbs. (1,745kg). Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Suspension, Steering & Braking

The suspension is a double-wishbone up front and Integral Link at the rear. The suspension components are stiffer (natch), there are new knuckles, the coil springs are adjustable, and the shocks are continuously variable. Jaguar’s setup allows the ride height to drop by 0.6-inches. Stopping power comes courtesy of a new carbon ceramic braking system, with Formula 1-style silicon nitride ceramic wheel bearings. Ceramic bearings used in this way is a first for Jaguar Land Rover road cars.

The Project 8 is the first Jaguar with a dedicated Track Mode that tweaks the driveline and stability control systems for circuit use, and sharpens both throttle and steering responses for better precision and driver feedback. The Project 8 features height-adjustable spring platforms with motorsport-specification coil springs and aluminum-bodied Continuously Variable Dampers, with a choice of two ride heights: standard for road and -15mm for track use.

Jaguar’s Project 8 introduces an Electronic Active Differential (EAD) for the first time on the XE, which works with the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system to precisely manage torque delivery to each of the rear wheels. In conjunction with enhanced large diameter front and rear driveshafts, the EAD is designed to distribute power and traction in varying situations. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Interior Treatments

The interior is all tarted up with go fast goodies, or at least trim, as well. There’s Gloss Carbon Fiber trim here and there and Alcantara on the steering wheel, instrument, and door panels. That eight-speed Quickshift transmission can be actuated by aluminum paddle shifters or by the central “Pistolshift” lever. Jaguar says that “Pistolshift” lever is another first, but not if you’ve driven around Mopar products from the 1960s. Nice try chaps.

For us, the Project 8 is available exclusively as a four-seat model, with Jag’s latest front performance seats featuring magnesium frames and a more heavily contoured rear seat cushion for better support. In most global markets there’s an optional two-seat Track Pack with lightweight front carbon fiber racing seats and four-point harnesses fixed to a retention hoop in place of the rear seat. But not for us! Oh no. We Americans can’t have nice things, it seems. All Project 8 models will be built in left-hand drive configuration only, but that doesn’t really balance out that we don’t get the two-seater if you ask me.

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 endured extensive testing at tracks like Nardo and the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The initiative was the most track-biased program SVO has ever carried out. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover.

Comparing & Contrasting

Jaguar doesn’t mention the price of the XE SV Project 8, but you can bet it’ll cost more than a packet. So start saving now. When it does hit the streets, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 stacks up against the more sporty offerings from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi – not to mention Lexus and Acura. It doesn’t seem to be a direct competitor, since it will be limited run, and not really a series production version. Still, a comparison test is (or should be) in order.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Jaguar Land Rover.

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