How Jaguar Built One of the Best Sport Sedans You Can’t Buy in the Jaguar XE SV Project 8
There aren’t many things that are genuinely unattainable these days, especially if your bank account has as many commas as digits. And while Jaguar isn’t short on collectible sports cars, there aren’t as many in the brand’s recent history. But a few years ago, Jaguar ditched its sensible shoes and went for a walk on the wild side. The result was the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, and it is one of the most striking four-door sedans we’ve ever seen.
The base XE isn’t in the same league
With most limited-run sports cars, its easy to find a trickle-down model that feels like a related choice. Those who can’t kick in for a BMW M8 may find super-coupe excitement in an M440i for half the price. The AMG GT Black Series runs over $300,000, but the base AMG GT has most of the looks and driving sensation for a third of that.
That’s what makes the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 such a special car. Its roots come from a relatively mundane, entry-level luxury-ish sedan. Sure, the standard XE looks good, but the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine pales in comparison to the Project 8. And when sat next to each other, there is no question which model is ready for the track and which one is meant for a comfortable cruise to the grocery store.
In fact, when comparing the cars side-by-side, they only share two components. The roof and front doors are all that match the original XE to its high-performance sibling.
How Jaguar made the XE SV Project 8
Sitting under the hood of this head-turning Jaguar sedan is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine. At 592 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, the base XE looks less like a Jaguar and more like a kitten. Zero to 60 mph sails past in just 3.5 seconds, and on track it hits 200 mph before an engine chip cuts off the power.
Since the base car had just a four-cylinder under the hood, it would take more than a shoehorn and some elbow grease to get that beefy powerplant to fit. The firewall had to be reshaped entirely, and the added weight threatened to throw off the balance of the chassis. To that end, Jaguar ditched the original steel front-end bodywork for carbon fiber versions. That meant saying goodbye to the hood, fenders, and front bumper to make it all work.
Revised suspension geometry
A thundering engine isn’t all Jaguar chucked into the XE to make the Project 8. Its engineers also wanted wider wheels and a wider track. That meant a new suspension setup and a wide-body kit. Because of the XE’s short wheelbase, it wasn’t just the fenders that needed to be reshaped. The flares started with the rear doors, which meant those had to go in the bin as well.
Adjustable suspension allows for ride height and damping changes on the fly, making the Project 8 remarkably functional for a hardcore sport sedan. And because the front splitter and rear wing are manually adjustable, the car has a tool kit to help dial in that perfect setup.
Why you can’t buy a Jaguar XE SV Project 8
For all of its exhilarating performance and engineering effort, Jaguar only produced 300 XE SV Project 8 models worldwide. Of those, only 32 were shipped to the U.S., so getting your hands on one won’t be easy. When new, the Project 8 was nearly $200,000. Today it sells for over $350,000 – if you can find one.