Comment: the super-saloon racer that will never be
As well as the 200mph target — 45mph more than the fastest production XE — the Project 8 was also tasked with an ability to set competitive lap times on a racing circuit, although the firm hasn’t publicly specified a time target for any given circuit.
SVO started developing the Project 8 last August and the car that will run at Goodwood this week is the second development version. The aim is to have the car signed off around September, with deliveries starting in May 2018.
It has already been tested at a range of competition venues, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and Jaguar is understood to be preparing for a lap record bid at the German circuit later this year. The firm’s desire to test it at race circuits is one reason why it has unveiled the high-performance XE to the public before the car has finished development.
The Project 8 has a downforce-producing adjustable front splitter, a flat underbody, a rear diffuser and carbonfibre bumper, and an adjustable rear wing.
Although the exterior looks broadly similar to the regular XE, it has been extensively reworked: 75% of the bodywork is new, with only the front doors and roof unchanged from the production models. In particular, the front headlights have been moved forward by 14mm to allow for extra cooling and engine work.
The Project 8 is fitted with a bespoke carbonfibre bonnet, which is 3kg lighter than the production version and includes an air extraction duct for extra engine cooling.
The wing panels around the rear wheels have been widened by 55mm to accommodate the 305-width tyres and also to help with the aerodynamics. The revised panels required SVO engineers to also install custom-made rear doors.
The car’s exterior was honed through wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics simulations. Jaguar says it has achieved a 205% reduction in lift in Track mode, with the car producing more than 122kg of downforce at 186mph.
Edwards said the emphasis on aerodynamic performance meant that “form follows function” where the bodywork is concerned. The exterior design was headed by Wayne Burgess, Jaguar’s production studio director, who said he took inspiration from Group B Lancia Delta Integrale rally cars. “It was a homologation special that linked a really powerful engine with all-wheeldrive transmission in a compact saloon body,” he said. “Project 8, for me, is that concept taken to its logical extreme.”