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2 August 2013

What is it?

A Jaguar concept called Project 7, conceived in just four months for July’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it made its debut. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: four months to put a fairing and some blue paint on the back of an F-type and punt it up the hill at Goodwood? We could all do that in our spare time, couldn’t we? 

I dunno. The more I hear, the more I think it’s a fairly remarkable turnaround. Cesar Pieri, a Jaguar designer who has only been at the company for a year, was making some sketches in March, for a modern car with a nod to Jaguar’s heritage. His colleagues liked them, and they sketched some more.

A couple of days later they slid them onto design director Ian Callum’s desk, and he liked them too. So did everyone else they then showed it to. So they decided to put it together for Goodwood.

And so followed three or four weeks of further sketches and computer models, three or four weeks of real modelling at Gaydon, including CNC milling of a full-scale clay model, which takes a week. They spent two weeks getting the fillets around the D-type-inspired rear just-so, placing silver film over the clay model and working the material so that shadows, highlights and reflections are perfect. 

Then there is the carbonfibre front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser. Each of these throws up issues: attaching the front splitter meant getting the aero team involved to decide what angle the rear wing should be, because putting on the carbon at the front upsets the front:rear lift balance. Likewise the rear diffuser, while an aesthetic rather than aero touch, necessitates finishing the exhausts with a ceramic coating, to stop the diffuser burning. 

Ditto the windscreen had to be cut down yet, because this is a working concept, rollover strength had to be retained. And following all that, because this is a working car, the chassis engineers wanted a week on the test track at Gaydon to set-up the suspension. And the graphics on those tyres? Turns out nobody in the UK can do them. So the team, by hand, scrubbed off the mouldings from the sidewalls, made up the vinyl templates, and did it themselves. 

And all to send Project 7 up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; five runs over three days, of no more than a minute each, creating a stir that, I think it’s fair to say, has overwhelmed not just the Jaguar design team, but everybody else within the company too.

What's it like?

Mechanically, Project 7 is pretty much an F-type in V8 S form. Or at least, it was when they started, and if mechanical things on it are not standard F-type, they’re pinched elsewhere from the Jaguar line-up. 

Most notable among those are that, in place of the V8 S’s 489bhp supercharged 5.0-litre engine, into Project 7’s nose has been dropped an engine with the calibration for the Jaguar XKR-S which, happily, happens to make 542bhp. Weight is almost unchanged, save for it being 20kg lighter at the rear — lost and accounted for by the absence of a roof mechanism. 

Twenty kilos is not a great deal on a car that tipped our scales at 1810kg when we road tested it, but the set-up work took it into consideration nonetheless: the fine tuning ensured that, when Jaguar’s chief engineer for vehicle integrity, Mike Cross, stuck it up the hill at Goodwood, it gave him the handling and just the amount of oversteer he liked. No more, no less. I say “no more”. He likes quite a lot.

The suspension has been lowered by 10mm over the standard F-type (and runs on the optional 20in ‘Blade’ alloys). But the more significant alteration to the way Project 7 feels, the engineers say, is that the seating position is a faintly staggering 50mm lower than an F-type, thanks to being a non-adjustable (unless you get the spanners out) bucket. 

It’s trimmed similarly to an F-type, although there’s a spot of extra quilting – as there is on the door cards, too – whose pattern, like the new mesh grilles at the front, mimics the oblong shape of the Jaguar Heritage logo. Which is a sweet touch. And time consuming, presumably.

There are other nods to the past, too: most obvious being the Ecurie Ecosse-like colour. And the fairing, which is as obvious a nod to the D-type as you can get.

Which brings me to the significance of the name and the roundels. It’s all Le Mans-referenced, as you’re no doubt aware. Jaguar has won the 24-hour race seven times, including, famously, with D-types in the 1950s. This doesn’t herald any kind of return to motorsport, you understand, it’s just a nice thing to do: a classic twist on a very modern car. 

You sit low in it, in a cockpit that feels very much F-type, apart from some unique stitching in a bodywork-matching colour. That windscreen is so much reduced that, when you see the car in profile, which I think is a real signature view of this car, the screen top and the fairing are at exactly the same height.

The rest of the cabin highlights – the magnesium gearshift paddles, which look much classier than the standard gold-finished ones – and the carbonfibre trim on the centre console, are all things you can specify from the F-type options list.

Even the sound is familiar. Fire up the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and it woofles away enticingly. And within about 30 seconds of slotting the gearbox into S and pulling away, I’m confident that it’s extra poke, and the fact that it’s streaming with rain, that has more effect on the driving experience than the loss of 20kg from around the rear or the 10mm drop in ride height. 

I’ll level with you here: I drive three laps in the car, before the rain becomes just too heavy for Jaguar’s concern about preserving the interior. But that’s okay. Five minutes at full speed is significantly better than the ten feet at walking pace you might be allowed in some concepts. 

And it’s enough to tell me that this thing is chuffing fast. Let’s call it 1790kg and 542bhp. The slightly heavier, and considerably less powerful F-type V8 S hit 60mph in 4.0sec dead on this very circuit in our hands. 

With an extra 54bhp, then, you could realistically assume you’re looking at a 0-60mph time of three-point-something (though Jaguar claims 4.1sec), and a top speed of a claimed 186mph. As soon as you breathe on the throttle exiting a second-gear hairpin, Project 7 wants to light up its rear tyres. Which is ideal.

I think the steering’s lighter than I remember, but that’s probably because I haven’t driven an F for a while – I’m told there are no changes, while the body feels pleasingly tied down on circuit, so you feel quite confident, and it’s well balanced. As concepts go, it is as drivable and enjoyable as they come.

Should I buy one?

Well you can’t, obviously, because it’s a concept, but no matter. What’s exciting, what’s compelling, about cars like Project 7 or some other great concepts (like the 2005 Holden Efijy, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, or the 2010 Audi quattro concept), is that they’re the passion of a small group of petrolheads, having a great idea, getting on with it, and presenting it to a management that feel compelled to say “we love it. Go do it”. 

Jaguar's Project 7 isn’t so much about the car itself. It’s about a group of people having a wild time in a studio, and asking: “What can we do to an F-type that makes it more exciting?”

The result is a car that makes you feel good about it – and the company that makes it. And you can’t ask for much more than that.

Jaguar Concept 7

Price £NA; 0-62mph 4.1sec (claimed); Top Speed 186mph; Economy 23.0mpg (est); CO2 290g/km; Kerb weight 1790kg (est); Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged petrol; Power 542bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 501lb ft at 2500-5500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
11

2 August 2013

1790kg! That is seriously overweight for an aluminium car of that size with no roof and it's only around 150kg lighter the new S-Class which is much much bigger and bristling with gizmos.  If the Project 7 is 20kg lighter than the F-Type, does the latter really weigh 180kg?!

2 August 2013

Lanehogger wrote:

1790kg! That is seriously overweight for an aluminium car of that size with no roof and it's only around 150kg lighter the new S-Class which is much much bigger and bristling with gizmos.  If the Project 7 is 20kg lighter than the F-Type, does the latter really weigh 180kg?!

 

Agree 100%, JLR and certain media love to say how much of a weight saving they are making using aluminium, the truth is they are no lighter than their competitors, and not as light as they claim to be.. 

I think they need to find another supplier, because this is the heaviest aluminium known to man, the standard Gallardo LP 560-4 only weighs about 1500kg.

 

2 August 2013

Citytiger wrote:

Agree 100%, JLR and certain media love to say how much of a weight saving they are making using aluminium, the truth is they are no lighter than their competitors, and not as light as they claim to be.. 

I think they need to find another supplier, because this is the heaviest aluminium known to man, the standard Gallardo LP 560-4 only weighs about 1500kg.

 

CityiTiger, please stop confusing manufacturer claims with real weight.

A Gallardo may be claimed at 1500, but in reality the Spyder has been measured at up to 1790kg.

http://www.zeperfs.com/en/fiche3027-lamborghini-gallardo-lp560-4-spyder.htm

 

I feel that no reviewer should mention a MFR claimed weight ever again. Just chuck it on the scales and measure, it is neither difficult nor expensive and could perhaps put a stop to these preposterous claims.

2 August 2013

To quote Citytiger,

I think they need to find another supplier, because this is the heaviest aluminium known to man, the standard Gallardo LP 560-4 only weighs about 1500kg.

Perhaps "Jag-wah's" are made of that slightly heavier Aluminum .....?

2 August 2013

Jaguar Project 7 first drive reviewWhy do i get a 'de ja vu' feeling of the Renault Wind 'Gordini'?

2 August 2013

As it's basically a cut down XK, which itself was built on a shoestring budget in 2006 (compared to other manufacturers) at a time when JLR was backed by Ford and effectively skint, the weight is understandable to an extent. Aluminium may be 3 times lighter than steel but it's 3 times less rigid, so the load bearing structure has to be incredibly well designed to save much weight. If you take a tour of the Jaguar factory and see the XK being built you can see the two main Aluminium spars they use are absolutely massive - its suprising that the sills don't seem bigger when you're in the car.  Aluminium tends to save more weight on a car when it's used for body panels as they normally aren't taking much structural load.  Unsurprisingly Aston has similar issues with its VH platform.

2 August 2013

Orangewheels wrote:

If you take a tour of the Jaguar factory and see the XK being built you can see the two main Aluminium spars they use are absolutely massive - its suprising that the sills don't seem bigger when you're in the car.  Aluminium tends to save more weight on a car when it's used for body panels as they normally aren't taking much structural load.  Unsurprisingly Aston has similar issues with its VH platform.

I have done the factory tour around the XJ production plant at Castle Bromwich, and its very impressive, I totally agree with you, I am a fan of JLR but more specifically Jaguar, but lets not forget, they are marketing their current range on the back of using lightweight aluminium in their production, the truth is, there is not a genuine advantage weight wise to any other modern vehicle made from high strength steel. 

So as stated above when a dedicated two seater sports car with no roof is almost as heavy as an S Class Mercedes, you have to ask the question as to why are they bothering at all.

2 August 2013

Just be thankful that cars like this exist, and its overpriced road going brother! I will probably never be able to own one, but equally love it when i see/hear/smell these sort of cars - it wont be long before before we are all forced into grotty eco-boxes, electric etc rubbish, and will yearn for the day when you could see cars like the F Type project 7, even if only as a concept on the interweb....

2 August 2013

That's me on materials.  So if aluminium is one third the rigidity of steel,   it must take up a lot more space to do certain jobs, right?  Not good.

Totally agree about manufacturer's weight claims, esp manufacturers from boot-shaped countries.  Car and Driver usually weigh their test cars, and that's where I go for a true figure.

2 August 2013

..............has any one, really, bought a car (or not?) due to how much it weighs? I'd imagine there are better reasons to buy (especially as we aren't talking about a Lotus Elise here?) cars, i'd suggest price comes quite high up, certainly performance and dynamics on the vehicle type we're discussing.

Having bought and sold many cars over the last 17yrs (it's my job after all), i've never lost or gained a sale due to the weight of said vehicle, as it seems to be another stick to beat manufacturers with, especially when we've all acknowledged that the figures quoted are a dry weight and don't factor the extra equiptment that invariably is specced on to these types of cars, so the actual weight of your car will almost certainly differ from the manufactures quoted figures. It's the same with claimed fuel consumption figures, only useful to compare car to car, if not to actually achieve the claimed figs (don't forget, there are people that DO meet the claim consumption figures and sometimes EXCEED them too!)

The last point i'm going to make, is that given that it was an exceptionally quick turn around from concept to reality (bearing in mind that from conception to production, a car could take 3-4yrs to become a reality), the cost to build the car as an admittedly one off vehicle (do you see any Project 7's about to improve the economy of scale.....NO!"), then give time/money, i'm sure it could haver been lighter still, but that's not really the point, is it?

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