Coventry, England - Make no mistake, what you’re looking at is the most extreme road car that Jaguar has ever produced. In fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to refer to Jaguar’s new XE Project 8 as a supercar with four doors.
You can also be sure that this is not just some predictable attempt to compete with the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63. It goes far above and beyond that station and will enjoy a certain measure of exclusivity as Jaguar plans to hand-assemble just 300 of them at its Special Vehicle Operations centre in Coventry.
But don’t get your hopes up if you live in South Africa as they’re only being built in left-hand drive, which is odd for a company that hails from a country that drives on the left and sits on the right.
Featuring a 441kW, 700Nm 5-litre supercharged V8 engine, it goes without saying that this is Jaguar’s most powerful road car ever. The company is targeting a 0-60mph (96km/h) acceleration time of just 3.3 seconds and a 322km/h top speed, while a titanium variable active exhaust system will ensure it has the bark to match the bite.
The motor is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Jaguar’s all-wheel drive system, and drivers are backed up by a new carbon ceramic braking system.
“Project 8 is a great example of what happens when enthusiastic designers, engineers and manufacturing specialists are given the opportunity to create an extreme performance sports car without compromise,” said SVO boss John Edwards.
Weight has been saved through the use of aluminium and carbon fibre body panels, including flared wheel arches that just about hug the car’s 20-inch alloy wheels. In fact, only the roof and front door skins have been left unaltered. Depending on configuration chosen, the Project 8 weighs just 1745kg.
Aerodynamics have been enhanced considerably through a package that includes an adjustable front splitter, flat underbody and adjustable rear wing. In fact, the car is said to be capable of delivering more than 122kg of downforce at 300km/h.
Sharpening its handling credentials are an active electronic rear differential, complete with oil cooler, and bespoke, manually adjustable shocks that can be lowered by 15mm for track use. On that note, the car also has a dedicated Track Mode that configures the aerodynamics, steering, throttle, drivetrain and stability control systems for circuit use.
Those that take track driving seriously enough can even opt for an optional Track Pack that bins the standard car’s four-seat interior layout in favour of a two-seat set up complete with two lightweight carbon fibre racing seats, featuring four-point harnesses, behind which you’ll find a metal frame with harness retention hoops.
In the standard version (above), front occupants sit on race-style Jaguar Performance seats backed by magnesium frames and upholstered in Jet leather and Miko suede. To create the appropriate ambience, the cabin is decked out with generous helpings of Gloss Carbon Fibre and Alcantara trim.
The Project 8 might seem to be totally performance-dedicated, but it’s not not about roughing it however, as the car still comes with an 11-speaker 380W Meridian audio system as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and Jaguar’s 26cm touchscreen, with added stopwatch, g-meter and graphics for acceleration and braking.
The Project 8 is priced at the equivalent of R2.5 million and owners will enjoy a wide range of personalisation options, including 19 exterior colours and race-inspired decal packs.