When Jaguar unveiled its bonkers XE-based Project 8 a few weeks ago, we weren’t given a whole lot of information to go with it. Now though, Jaguar has given it the full reveal treatment, and divulged much in the way of glorious, juicy details.
Here’s what you need to know…
Let’s start with the most obvious: the Project 8 is enormously powerful. In fact with 592bhp, it’s the most powerful road-going Jaguar ever: yep, surpassing even the XJ220, otherwise known as the former fastest car in the world.
The thrust comes from the familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8, only here, there’s a new air intake system to improve airflow and reduce ‘pressure drop’ in the airbox. There’s a shouty titanium exhaust too, and a new ECU calibration to make the most of all the breathing modifications.
Finally, there’s a vent in the carbonfibre bonnet - placed in a low pressure area - that ejects hot air from the engine bay while also reducing drag.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox. With all-wheel drive and a near 600bhp output, it’s plenty quick off the line despite a relatively porky 1745kg kerb weight - it’ll do 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. Top speed meanwhile is 200mph.
A top-spec Jaguar XE S with 20-inch wheels packs 235 width tyres at the front and 265 at the rear. The Project 8’s boots? Well, they’re a tad bigger.
It uses 265 section rubber at the front, and massive 305 width hoops at the back. Whether you get the standard model or the Track Pack version, you’ll get super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s wrapping the forged wheels.
The front tyres are so wide, that the front end had to be modified to fit them in. The arches on the new carbonfibre front wings are each flared by 19mm, and the headlamps have been moved slightly.
That 5.0-litre V8 is not an easy fit in the XE’s snug engine bay. Height isn’t an issue - the engine isn’t as tall as the Ingenium inline-fours fitted to the standard car, after all - the snafu is length.
“The problem comes with the extra pair of cylinders at the back,” explains vehicle engineering manager Stu Adlard. He describes how the bulkhead and the brake pipes had to be moved to accommodate the longer unit, and with those massive front tyres plus the Project 8’s super low ride height, a left-hand drive only configuration was needed due to where the electronic power steering system has to live.
It’s hard to ignore the Project 8’s massive, two-position carbonfibre wing. Set it and the - equally menacing - front splitter in ‘Track Mode’, and you’re looking at 122kg of downforce at 186mph. That’s “25 per cent more than Project 8’s nearest competitor” according to Jaguar, although they don’t say what that competitor is. BMW M4 GTS, perhaps?
As a product of Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations outfit, the Project 8 has a ridiculous number of personalisation options. Just take exterior paint choices: SVO offers “the opportunity to choose from 10,000 exterior paint hues,” and the outfit will let you choose numerous different colours for the brake callipers, grille surround, mirror caps and the aero devices. You can get “racing inspired decal packs,” and even personalised tread plates and “commissioning plaques”. Lovely.
Project 8 has what Jaguar is calling an “industry-first” use of Formula 1-style silicon nitride ceramic wheel bearings. They’re almost entirely frictionless, and are stronger than conventional steer bearings, despite weighing around half as much. The more you know.
Those fancy bearings sit in newly designed knuckles machined from billet. While we’re taking a look at the suspension setup, it’s worth noting you’ll find stiffer suspension bushes down there, while at the rear upper control arm, the bushes have been binned in favour of ball joints.
On the damping front, SVO has gone with “motorsport-specification” springs and continuously variable dampers made largely from aluminium, which allow for a road friendly ride height or a speed bump-smashing -15mm drop intended for track use only.
As you’d expect, XE P8 gets a set of carbon ceramic brakes, but you might be taken aback by the sheer size of the stoppers. The discs are measure a gargantuan 400mm in diameter up front, and 396mm at the rear. At the front those massive rotors are squeezed by six-piston callipers, with two piston callipers found at the rear.
Want one of these things? Good luck: Jaguar will only make 300, and they’ll cost £149,995 a pop in the UK, before you start adding options like the Track Pack - which drops the two seat rear bench in favour of a half cage and adds carbonfibre bucket seats at the front.
But, thinking about it, that might not be such bad value. The closest comparable car we can think of is the BMW M4 GTS, which was £121,770 when new. It’s nowhere near as powerful, nor was its creation quite as involved as Project 8’s - Jaguar reckons only about 25 per cent of the boggo XE has been carried over here.
Most of us will have to remain by admiring the Project 8 from afar, but the good news is we’ll be able to hear the car thundering its way up the Goodwood hill climb at the Festival of Speed this weekend. Best bring ear plugs…