They really went all in on this one. SVO's latest is no less than a 592 horsepower sedan with adjustable suspension and aero and a roll cage in place of the rear seats (for non-U.S. buyers at least). Talk about an engineering and design team's wet dream.
Limited to just 300 units, this product comes in left hand drive only, and is so new that Jaguar doesn't even know how long it will take to hand-build one at SVO's secret hideout. The list of modifications compared to a regular XE is truly impressive, and there's a solid chance that this will become the fastest four-door around the Nürburgring, beating the brilliant Alfa Romeo Giulia QV in the process.
Out of the established German performance trio, Mercedes goes the furthest to make you feel special. AMG gives you self-developed burnout machines with hand-built V8s and AMG-specific body panels. Newcomer Alfa Romeo is trying to beat that by offering a car that's faster, featuring a twin-turbo V6 and steering system developed by Ferrari, all the carbon fiber they could give you for the price.
With the Project 8, Jaguar doesn't need to worry about the sticker. Despite the fact that the super-XE will retail for over $190,000, Jaguar isn't likely to make any money on them. The point is to show off the so far relatively unknown SVO brand and be as loud as possible in the process. Titanium exhausts connected to a 592-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8 will easily take care of that part.
Jamming the biggest engine into the smallest model might be the oldest trick in the book, but SVO did not stop there. After fitting the XE with the F-Type SVR's carbon ceramic brakes complete with silicon nitride ceramic wheel bearings, they added a rear differential cooler to the mostly rear-biased all-wheel drive system, also beefing up the adjustable suspension with stiffer springs. Camber is adjustable too, and after some wrenching, the Project 8 can be dropped by 15mm.
The front splitter can be dialed to your liking for the ultimate track time, together with the giant carbon wing sitting on the CNC-machined aluminum struts at the rear. Keeping with the theme, even the floorpan has been modified to generate some real Venturi effect, while the carbon fiber rockers are the widest you'll see on a production car, sporting well deserved 'No Step' labels.
Unlike what Porsche did with the new GT2 RS' fenders, the design team led by Wayne Burgess went with massive cutouts in an effort to get the air out of the wheel arches as efficiently as possible. Pure motorsport stuff that also means the Project 8's doors won't stay clean for more than five minutes at a time.
Speaking of doors, the two front ones and the roof are the only pieces of stock XE sheetmetal. The rest is all custom, mostly because of the 305-width rear tires and the unique front (the headlights have been moved forward 14mm) with the huge extraction vent and the Emmental-style cooling holes.
Needless to say, the body-in-white is different as well, mostly because the optional cage needed solid mounting points. The cars going to North America, where the cage won't be available as an option, will still have the attachment points under their seats, so an aftermarket conversion shouldn't be a problem. Track first, street second.
Being just three years old, SVO has a lot of work to do to become a major player on the performance car market, but products like the Project 8 prove that they sure as hell know how to play.