Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations fast-car skunkworks has jammed a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 into the snout of the middle-management-spec XE sedan, creating what it says will be the most “extreme performance” of any road-going Jaguar ever.
And that’s quite a claim, given the Project 8 has to follow in the footsteps of the lithe F-Type Project 7, a 423kW hard-core interpretation of Jaguar’s 911-hunting coupe capable of leaping to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. The Project 7’s all-wheel drive sibling, the F-Type SVR, is even faster still with a 3.7-second zero-to-hundred stat.
With two more doors and a bigger body to haul, the XE SV Project 8 will no doubt have to sweat to keep ahead of its F-Type stablemates, but with a 441kW version of Jag’s versatile 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under the bonnet it definitely has muscle.
It’ll have the aero too, courtesy of a very uncouth wing sprouting out of the bootlid and a lift-reducing bodykit on the front, sides and rear. Expect similarly track-oriented componentry on the Project 8’s brakes and suspension, and an engine, gearbox and suspension calibration honed on the fearsome Nurburgring Nordschleife.
It’s the V8-powered XE we’ve all been waiting for, but just like the Project 7 that came before it the Project 8 will be extraordinarily exclusive. Just 300 cars will be assembled by hand at SVO’s facility in Coventry, and while pricing is still super-secret, SVO chief John Edwards says “the price for such an extreme performance sports car available in strictly limited numbers will reflect that”.
In other words, expect to pay significantly more than the current XE S range-topper, which retails for $105,065 in Australia. As a reference, only 10 of the similarly-exclusive F-Type Project 7 came to our shores with an eye-watering $339,610 pricetag.
But that’s all academic, as Wheels has learned that the XE SV Project 8 will only be offered in a left-hand drive configuration. Australian customers sadly won’t get a look-in this time around.
Will Jaguar follow up the Project 8 with a more accessible V8 powered XE R to go up against the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63, and the the upstart Alfa Romeo Giulia QV? At this point the crystal ball is a little murky, but the Project 8 at least sets a very powerful precedent.
Full specifications of the XE SV Project 8 will be announced on June 28, two days ahead of its in-the-flesh public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK.