Unlike many performance machines of today, the XE Project 8 feels more a project of passionate engineers than budget-conscious accountants, and for that reason, it made it to evo Car of the Year 2019. Despite it's big, bold and brawny nature, it's able to deliver a sledgehammer hit of performance without sacrificing character and tactility at the altar of effectiveness. The ingredients may be similar to recent German efforts – V8 engine, all-wheel drive, sumptuous cabin – but the resulting product is something different.
That’s not to say the Project 8 is perfect; far from it. It’s horrendously expensive for a start, as well as being perilously heavy. As parent company JLR struggles in several markets, the emergence of Project 8 does have a worrying ‘dying days of MG Rover’ feel to it too, but it’s reassuring to know Jaguar can still surprise us now and then.
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More recently, Jaguar has followed up the original Project 8 with the Touring variant – mechanically similar to the caged, bucket-seated car that arrived first, but shorn of its rear wing and with full cabin trim. It’s perhaps the best expression of Project 8, more in keeping with Jaguar’s long-standing values but every bit as potent and engaging as the more track-focused car.
Jaguar XE SV Project 8: in detail
- Engine, transmission and technical details – The most powerful development of JLR’s 5-litre supercharged V8 yet. Aluminium and carbonfibre construction has supposedly helped keep weight down – who knows how heavy it’d be without it…?
- Performance and 0-60 time – Powerful engine, effective all-wheel-drive system and easy eight-speed auto make for a car with blistering pace.
- Ride and handling – Rides in the manner you’d expect of a Jaguar sports car, and despite considerable mass has surprising agility. A better road car than track car, though it’s certainly not bad on a circuit.
- MPG and running costs – Expect fuel bills to be huge and tax rates not much better, but as a specialist performance car, relative lack of use should keep running costs down.
- Interior and tech – XE cabin trimmings don’t quite tally with the huge price tag, but the seats are excellent and the option of a rear cage a fun if incongruous touch.
- Design – A mixture of class and brutality from some angles, and a distinct lack of elegance and taste from others, but compelling all the same.
Prices, specs and rivals
We’ll just blurt this out: £149,995. That’s a lot, and is perhaps at least partly behind the Project 8’s relatively slow sales so far. It’s not that the Project 8 doesn’t deliver in terms of performance, more that similar money gets some deeply desirable cars from elsewhere in the automotive spectrum, and a Jaguar XE – no matter how much development has gone into it – will always struggle to compete with true exotica.
You can, for instance, get a Porsche 911 GT3 for around £141,000, and if your dream Project 8 is in Track Pack spec, then the two-seat Porsche with its own rear cage is little less practical but even more of a thrill.
If a British badge and greater comfort are required, then the £163,000 McLaren GT, £120,900 Aston Martin Vantage and £159,100 Bentley Continental GT must all be in the running. None are as overtly exciting as the Jaguar, and the Jag’s rarity make the vagaries of future values a mystery, but all are accomplished driver’s cars with arguably more badge appeal.
In This Review
- 1Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review - currently reading
- 22019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – engine, transmission and technical details
- 32019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – performance and 0-60 time
- 42019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – ride and handling
- 52019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – MPG and running costs
- 62019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – interior and tech
- 72019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review – design