WE’RE GO­ING ON AN ‘M’ HUNT

Jaguar asked its Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions divi­sion to build an M4 GTS ri­val. So it has

Evo India - - FIRST LOOK - By STU­ART GAL­LAGHER

THREE HUN­DRED AND twenty-two kilo­me­tres per hour, nigh-on 600bhp and aero­dy­nam­ics at the fore­front of the de­sign. Built in a lim­ited pro­duc­tion run and con­ceived by a skunkworks team. To this day, Jaguar’s XJ220 re­mains an enigma, a topic of con­ver­sa­tion that fires the imag­i­na­tion and a car many re­gret not buy­ing when val­ues dropped be­low the price of a new F-type.

In 2017, Jaguar’s ‘Satur­day Club’ no longer gath­ers un­of­fi­cially at Cas­tle Bromwich to try to squeeze a V12 into a sleek struc­ture and cover it all with an alu­minium body. To­day the club is called Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions and it

op­er­ates le­git­i­mately out of its own fa­cil­ity in Coven­try.

To cel­e­brate its first birthday, SVO thought it would build it­self a suit­able present. A present that just so hap­pens to be the most pow­er­ful road car Jaguar has ever made. They have chris­tened it the XE SV Project 8, and it’s as sin­gu­larly fo­cused as it looks.

It will also be the first car that SVO has built. Un­til now, SVO’s fo­cus has been on de­vel­op­ing JLR prod­ucts, and re­paint­ing or trim­ming where re­quired, leav­ing con­struc­tion to the firm’s ma­jor plants. This is very dif­fer­ent.

Only two of the Project 8’s ex­ter­nal body pan­els re­main un­touched from a stan­dard XE – the roof and the front door-skins. The bumpers, bon­net, wings and lower sills are all car­bon­fi­bre, as are the ad­justable front split­ter and rear wing, the rear dif­fuser and even the spokes of the 20-inch wheels fit­ted with Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2 tyres. It’s this wheel and tyre com­bi­na­tion that plays a part in the de­sign of the out­ra­geous front and rear whee­larches.

To house the 265-sec­tion front tyres, SVO had to widen the front body­work by 38mm (with the rear of the arch cut away to al­low high­pres­sure air to es­cape) and move the head­lamps for­ward 14mm. For the rear, the arches have swollen by 55mm to house 305-sec­tion rub­ber. Ad­di­tional aero re­quire­ments meant the rear of these arches also had to be opened up and the back doors mod­i­fied, too. All the body-in-white changes are taken care of by a third-party sup­plier, with the shells re­turned to SVO for paint­ing and two weeks of hand-as­sem­bly.

Un­der those en­larged arches re­mains the XE’s dou­ble-wish­bone (front) and in­te­gral link (rear) sus­pen­sion, with Jaguar’s ac­tive dampers re­cal­i­brated to suit the in­creased grip, re­duc­tion in weight and hike in per­for­mance. Other chas­sis changes in­clude a new sus­pen­sion-knuckle de­sign and ceramic bear­ings to re­duce weight, in­crease stiff­ness and im­prove steer­ing re­sponse. There are also stiffer bushes, although the up­per con­trol arms use ball joints in­stead, and both front and rear anti-roll bars have been tweaked to in­crease grip and trac­tion.

Go for the op­tional Track Pack and you get height-ad­justable spring plat­forms and up­graded coil springs, the for­mer al­low­ing

Only two body pan­els re­main from the stan­dard XE sa­loon

two ride heights: one for the road (reg­u­lar XE height) and another for the track (15mm lower). The Track Pack also swaps the rear bench for a half-cage, adds torso-clench­ing buck­ets up front, and trims 12.2kg from the car’s weight.

Be­neath the car­bon bon­net is a 5-litre su­per­charged V8. It has been pushed as far as Jaguar is happy to go with­out costly new in­ter­nals be­ing re­quired. The fo­cus has been on im­prov­ing cool­ing and breath­ing, and the fit­ment of a ti­ta­nium ex­haust helps yield 592bhp. The four-wheel drive pow­er­train uses ZF’s eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box, and there’s also a rear e-diff and torque vec­tor­ing. The brakes are Brembo car­bon­ce­ram­ics. Inside, a reg­u­lar trig­ger­style gear­lever re­places Jaguar’s usual ro­tary gear se­lec­tor.

Of course, you don’t build a car like this with­out an­nounc­ing some se­ri­ous num­bers: top speed is said to be ‘at least’ 322kmph and the 3.3sec 0-100kmph time a ‘worstcase sce­nario’. Mean­while, it’s claimed that in its light­est form the Project 8 will weigh 1745kg. All 300 ex­am­ples will be left-hand drive (switch­ing to RHD would have re­duced chas­sis stiff­ness). There’s another num­ber, too. Though Jaguar has yet to set a lap time of the Nür­bur­gring, it ex­pects to bet­ter the 7min 28sec of BMW’s M4 GTS.

SVO: JAGUAR’S AMG DIVI­SION?

YOUTH ISN’T GET­TING IN THE way of SVO’s grand plans. Hav­ing moved into its Ox­ford Road plant in 2016, al­low­ing it to paint and assem­ble SVR-branded Jaguars and ar­mour-plated Land Rovers, SVO is now set to build its own cars from scratch.

The F-type Project 7 was a toe in the wa­ter that stoked de­mand for more of the same, hence the Project 8 and more lim­ited-run mod­els based on ex­ist­ing Jaguars – SVO calls them Col­lec­tors’ Cars, sadly – in the pipe­line.

SVO is also look­ing be­yond pro­duc­tion cars. The ul­ti­mate goal? To build a bespoke Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions model. Per­haps the C-X75 hy­per­car isn’t dead yet.

Above: Track Pack sees a half roll-cage fit­ted for the full tour­ing-car vibe. Left: Wider arches house huge 305-sec­tion tyres at the rear – handy when you’re putting down nearly 600bhp

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