On the track...

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Drives -

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.

OL­LIE MAR­RIAGE

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