Hot XE V8 wings in

Skunkworks 441kW Jag SVO project targets M4 GTS

ANDY ENRIGHT

BILLED by Jaguar as the most extreme performance car in company history, the XE SV Project 8 is a strictly limited numbers special developed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO). Perhaps the most tantalising fact about the Project 8 is that SVO has plumbed a 441kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under the bonnet, which would suggest a longer production run, albeit in a less extreme guise.

Jaguar is currently playing coy about that possibility, but development XE models have been spied on test loops in northern Spain, finished with quad exhausts and bulging wheel arches, so perhaps a series production rival to the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 isn’t such a long shot.

The Project 8 will get its first public outing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, with just 300 customers set to get their hands on the most powerful road-legal Jaguar ever. At the time of going to press, Jaguar hadn’t released details of chassis upgrades, but the images, shot on the Nurburgring, show the XE Project 8 sporting aggressively widened sheetmetal, an M4 GTS-style adjustable rear wing as part of a focused aero package, and some serious cooling given the yawning front intakes.

To date, all SVR production cars have been all-wheel drive, with Jaguar claiming that there are no plans to develop an XE SVR because an SVR version of the F-Pace SUV takes priority. Granted, the V8 engine doesn’t take a lot of shoehorning in, as its basic dimensions are much the same as the six-pot. Nevertheless, it still seems like an extreme amount of calibration effort for the sake of just 300 special order cars.

A possible outcome that would protect investment from Project 8 customers and provide some veracity to Jaguar’s claims could be a milder XE R V8 model, packing something south of 400kW.

Jaguar has form here. Despite the previous F-Type Project 7 initially being billed as a one-off design study, SVO subsequently built 250, of which 10 came to Australia, priced at $340,000. An F-Type SVR road car then followed.

SVO itself is an operation in transition. A dedicated 20,000m2 tech centre opened last year near Coventry and SVO bosses have expressed a desire to introduce high-performance variants of standard cars far earlier in the product life cycle, a strategy mirrored by Audi with its burgeoning range of RS models.

Those looking to land the handbuilt Project 8 will have to dig deep.

John Edwards, managing director of JLR Special Operations, said, “The new XE SV Project 8 takes aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level – it’s conceived for enthusiasts and the most discerning collectors.

The price for such an extreme performance sports car available in strictly limited numbers will reflect that.”

Extreme ways

It might well be the marque’s most powerful road car to date, but is the Project 8 really ‘the most extreme performance Jaguar ever’? The feral XJR-15 V12 sports car was based on the Le Mans-winning XJR-9, while the XJ220 was, in 1992, the world’s fastest production car and holder of the Nurburgring lap record.

The C-X75 was a hybrid conceived with two diesel-fed micro gas turbines, the project cancelled in the wake of the GFC. The Project 8 could have its work cut out to live up to those forebears.