On the track...
Bad news: I can think of other cars I’d rather take to a track. Jaguar may claim to have benchmarked the Project 8 against the 911 GT3, and, sure enough, it’s not a lot slower around the Nürburgring (7:21.2 plays 7:12.7), but that’s not the whole story.
The Jaguar is taller and significantly heavier, so struggles to contain its weight. The Michelin Cup 2 tyres do an immense job of resisting the forces working on them, but eventually the hard-worked outside front can’t hold a line any more. Up to that point though, it’s very good. I particularly like the smooth way that, when you nail it out of a slow corner, the back end slips out into oversteer and then the 4WD system cuts in, transferring power forward so you exit with everything in line and pointing the right way. It’s flattering like that. Around Dunsfold, suspension control is never found wanting.
But compared to a GT3 it’s not sharp. There’s the numb steering, the weight management, the eventual loss of grip, even the engine. It’s trickier to mete out the exact amount of thrust you want when the engine just wants to give you everything, all the time. Throttle response may be great, but what it’s connected to is a happy, generous V8, not a laser-focused, 9,000rpm flat-six. There’s rarely much need to hold on until 6,800rpm as the gains in noise and power aren’t that noticeable.
The brakes are impressive, and it’s great not having to brace yourself, instead letting the harness take the strain of your bodyweight. Personally I’d like a firmer pedal and less servo to heighten the motorsport credentials.
The sum of it is that the Project 8 is a better road car than a track car. Surprised? So was I. This was a car I anticipated would be the fiercest of the fierce, the hardest of the hardcore, but actually it’s warm and approachable. Not particularly challenging. So a very good fit for an audience who probably aren’t track-day regulars. Most importantly, it shows Jaguar can still build a great driver’s car.