Meet the most powerful production Jaguar ever built
Recently, Jaguar brought the XE SV Project 8 to our office for a walkaround ahead of its North American debut at Pebble Beach later this month. While it was here, we got a chance to talk about this 592-horsepower track monster with Dave Foster, Advanced Product Creation Manager for Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations division. Here are 10 things he told us make the Project 8 worthy of its SVO badge.
It’s barely an XE anymore
Foster says the Project 8 is more than 80 percent all new. And although you can see a lot of the changes (such as the new front end, bulging fender flares, and giant wing), the majority of the SVO team’s changes were under the skin.
The trunk, for example, had to be reinforced to keep it from bending under the weight of the wing’s downforce. Plus, in order to fit the wheels and tires they wanted, the team had to move the headlights forward nearly half an inch. Only the two front doors and the roof were left untouched.
So much carbon fiber
To save weight and make sure the Project 8 would devour the Nurburgring, SVO’s engineers added a lot of carbon fiber. The upper part of the splitter is obviously carbon fiber, as are the side skirts, the diffuser, and the wing. What’s less obvious are the front and rear bumpers, the vented hood, the body-colored skirts.
The team is also currently still trying to decide whether the front fenders should be carbon fiber or aluminum. The car we saw had the former, but the production version might still end up with the latter.
Interestingly, you won’t be able to get carbon-fiber wheels. Instead, production cars will get 20-inch forged wheels.
If you buy a regular Jaguar XE, the most powerful engine you can get is the S trim’s 380-hp supercharged V-6. When SVO dropped in the Project 8’s 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, it ended up with a tire-roasting 592 hp.
Foster said the Project 8’s engine is essentially the same one you get in the 575-horsepower F-Type SVR. The only significant differences are the engine cooling and air intake systems. And like the F-Type SVR, the Project 8 uses a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system to get its power to the ground.
Speaking of the Project 8’s exhaust, Foster says it’s “very similar to [the] SVR,” only with “a different character in its sound.” But whatever those differences are, the Project 8 is still absurdly loud, just like the F-Type SVR. And boy howdy, does it sound good.
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In the front, SVO used stainless steel downpipes that feed into a unique center section that creates the Project 8’s sound. The rear section is titanium, though, which is where the active exhaust is located. Jaguar says there’s a quiet mode, but based on what we heard from the car itself, your choice is really between loud mode and super loud mode.
If you’re going to give a car nearly 600 horsepower and set it loose on the racetrack, it definitely needs strong brakes. Up front, the Project 8 gets 15.7-inch carbon-ceramic discs paired with six-piston calipers. The back discs are still carbon ceramic, but they’re slightly smaller at 15.6 inches.
Actually, the entire system is completely new, down to the slave cylinder and even the brake fluid. “We’ve also added in [racing grade] SRF brake fluid so we can maintain brake performance without boiling the fluid,” Foster says.
On the front end, the most obvious aerodynamic change is the new splitter. But if you look closer, you can also see a vented hood. That’s to help keep engine temperature under control and minimize drag under the hood. Changes to the front fenders now create an air curtain to smooth airflow around the wheels.
Side skirts manage air as it passes down the side of the car, and there’s the combination of the diffuser and a completely flat underbody for optimum airflow. Plus, at 186 mph (299 km/h), Jaguar claims that massive wing provides 268 pounds (121 kg) of downforce.
The suspension is height adjustable, and so are the splitter and wing. Owners can drop the ride height about half an inch, switch the wing between low-drag and high-downforce mode, and slide the splitter forward for maximum on-track downforce.
“The coil-over damper also runs continuously variable damping,” Foster says. “That way we can optimize the damping performance of the car depending on the environment the car’s in.”
Instead of swapping in a dual-clutch transmission, Jaguar stuck with the familiar eight-speed ZF automatic. In this application, though, the SVO team upgraded the transfer box, changed the rear differential, and gave the car new drive shafts.
The transmission can also upshift quicker and skip gears when it downshifts. “On the upshift, it’s about a 200 millisecond shift time,” Foster says. “And then under extreme braking, you can skip several gears. So you don’t have to go eight, seven, six, five. You can go eight to three.”
Considering how extreme the rest of the Project 8 looks, it would be understandable if you assumed the interior had been stripped to save weight. But surprisingly, that’s not the case. The rear seat only has room for two passengers, and the front seats are heavily bolstered, but otherwise, it looks like a normal road car inside. A panoramic sunroof even comes standard in the U.S.
“We could have stripped it right back, but that would have changed the character too far away from where we wanted it,” Foster says. “So it’s a track-focused car but developed for the road, as well. It’s something you can live with on a daily basis.”
If a 592-horsepower Jaguar XE with a racing-inspired aero package and that ridiculous exhaust note sounds like a hoot to drive, you’re not alone. But don’t expect to be able to swing by your local dealer for a test drive. Only 300 will ever be built.
And not only will they be rare, but they’ll also be expensive. Pricing still isn’t available for the North America, but the price in the U.K. is nearly $200,000 USD (£149,000). Jaguar says it won’t cost nearly that much here, but even at $150,000 USD, it still won’t be cheap. But if you do manage to buy one, though, it sounds like it will be worth every penny.