Previewed in camouflage form in May, the XE SV Project 8 offers significant updates over the standard XE, including supercar-like performance numbers - a 322km/h top speed and 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds. There's also the 'Track Pack' option that further enhances this car's racetrack potential.
While broadly similar to the standard XE, the SV Project 8 treats the four-door body to extensive changes; so much so that only the front door skins and roof are carried over from the standard model.
The changes include aluminium quarter panels that are flared by 55mm to accommodate wider rear wheels, with the rear door skins and boot floor re-profiled to suit.
Extensive use of carbon fibre includes front guards that are flared 19mm and feature cutaway lower trailing edges. The front and rear bumpers are also carbon fibre, as are the side skirts, rear diffuser, adjustable front splitter, bonnet and manually-adjustable rear wing.
Combined with other lightweighting measures, the carbon fibre panels give the Project 8 what's claimed to be the lowest kerb weight of any current V8-powered Jaguar sedan - just 1,745kg in two-seat Track Pack form.
Extensive testing has refined the car's aerodynamic package, which includes a flat underbody and delivers more than 122kg of downforce at 300km/h - 25 per cent more than Project 8's nearest competitor.
When fitted with the optional Track Pack, the Project 8 gets a Gloss Black roof and longitudinal twin-stripes, but the Bespoke by SVO division of Jaguar allows customers to have their Project 8 finished in just about any paint colour imaginable.
Four or Two?
Inside, the Project 8 is offered in two derivatives: a standard four-seater and a more circuit-focused two-seater with the Track Pack.
The four-seat version features magnesium-framed front performance seats with unique trimming and Project 8 logos stitched into the headrests. Rear seats are redesigned with additional lateral support.
Black soft-touch Alcantara is used throughout the interior, including on the Project 8-branded steering wheel, while gloss carbon fibre detailing, aluminium shift paddles and a leather-wrapped 'Pistolshift' gear lever are all standard.
The latest Virtual 12.3-inch TFT Instrument Panel Display is employed, as well as a tablet-style 10.2-inch touchscreen, which adds a stopwatch, g-meter readout and accelerator and braking graphics to the central touchscreen display. Dual View technology allows passenger and driver to view different content on the central control screen simultaneously.
Other features include a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, Jaguar's InControl Remote app, Secure Tracker vehicle security and a 380W, 11-speaker Meridian sound system.
The optional Track Pack replaces the front seats with carbon fibre racing seats with four-point harnesses, while the rear seats are deleted, saving 12.2kg. A fire extinguisher system is also part of the Track Pack spec.
The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 powering the Project 8 has been tuned to deliver 441kW and 700Nm - the highest output of any Jaguar road car ever.
SVO engineers tuned the engine calibration software, added a unique air intake system and lightweight titanium exhaust designed for track use and delivering what Jaguar calls a "phenomenal snarling soundtrack".
The V8's cooling system is extensively modified, with the vent in the carbon fibre bonnet playing an active part in managing underbonnet temperatures.
The eight-speed Quickshift transmission has been recalibrated to suit the increased power (and can be shifted non-sequentially, if required), as has the all-wheel drive system.
An Electronic Active Differential (EAD) makes its small sports saloon debut in the Project 8, and works with the car's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system, larger diameter front and rear driveshafts, and a diff cooler.
Project 8 is also the first Jaguar to get a dedicated Track Mode, which enhances body control and sharpens both throttle and steering responses for precision control, especially on the track.
Developed through an intensive racetrack test programme, the Project 8's suspension, consisting of a double-wishbone front and Integral Link rear, adds new SVO-designed knuckles with Formula 1-style componentry - an industry-first in road car application.
Increased lateral stiffness is achieved through stiffer suspension bushes, while the rear upper control arm assembly uses ball joints instead of bushes. Front and rear anti-roll bars are fine-tuned, while the Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system has been recalibrated with variable damping to offer what's claimed to be easy low speed manoeuvrability and precise driver feedback on the circuit.
To better suit track use, the Project 8's suspension can be manually lowered 15mm.
The car's wheel and tyre package is the largest ever fitted to a production Jaguar sedan, consisting of 9.5 x 20-inch front and 11 x 20-inch rear forged aluminium alloys with high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres as standard.
Carbon Ceramic Brakes (CCB) are a first for Jaguar, with 400mm two-piece front discs with six-piston aluminium calipers and 396mm two-piece rear discs with single-piston sliding calipers. The CCB system also uses motorsport-grade Synthetic Racing Fluid (SRF) for arduous braking use.
To minimise understeer, Torque Vectoring by Braking technology is standard, working with the EAD to precisely control torque delivery to the rear wheels.
In Track Mode, calibration settings for the driveline dynamics, EPAS, stability control, ABS and torque vectoring are all tailored to suit circuit use.
Only 300 units of the XE SV Project 8 are being produced. Curiously for a British-built vehicle, it will not be offered in RHD form - all units are LHD, with a starting price around the AU$211,000 mark.
Distribution will be limited to selected Eurpoean, Asian, Middle Eastern and North American markets. Canada and USA miss out on the Track Pack option, while Australia misses out entirely, with the Project 8 not coming here.