It’s a significantly more ambitious endeavour than Project 7, the extroverted speedster based on an F-Type, although both cars fall under the ‘crazy ideas with commercial opportunities’ mantra championed by SVO managing director John Edwards. Today, it has been described variously as a statement car, the ultimate expression of what performance means to the marque, and a nailed-on future classic. It is also the fastest road-legal four-door saloon around the Nürburgring.
Jaguar XE SV Project 8: full details of Nurburgring record breaker
As we once again peel into Madgwick – a fast right-hander that brings the pit straight to an end with either one or two apices, depending on which historic racer you’re talking to – it’s hard not to drolly conclude that if this 600bhp saloon bites and we end up in the tyre wall, Pook truly will have only himself to blame.
Having moved through the car’s primary driving modes, which keep the dampers in a softer, road-biased setting but sequentially heighten the driveline’s rear torque bias, we’re now in Track, which ups the ante on both parameters. Bends are a waiting game today, but the Project 8 is devouring the bits in between.
Passenger rides do, of course, provide only limited insight into a car, especially when it is wearing semi-slick tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s – the only option Jaguar will offer) and it is so damnably wet. Four compromised laps merely confirm that the Project 8 is firm but not murderously so and as quick in a straight line as anything the more affordable side of a McLaren 720S.
Q&A: JLR Special Operations boss on the Jaguar XE SV Project 8
This, then, is really a chance to catch up with the development team and listen to the changes they’ve made as this exciting undertaking nears sign-off. It’s a stepping stone between last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where this least compromising of all the road cars in Jaguar’s long history broke cover, and our first opportunity to drive the thing, which will come in Spain in late May.
It’s there we’ll discover whether Jaguar has achieved its aim of building an extraordinarily quick car that doesn’t require the synaptic prowess of a racing driver to unlock its true pace. “It’s about feeling that the car is always with you,” says Pook back in the pit lane, adding that the Project 8 is set up to operate on track without generating any fear factor.