Even a basic, entry-level Jaguar XE is a fine-handling thing, so the SVO engineers clearly had a useful starting point for their supersaloon project.
What’s most surprising is that the Project 8 actually rides well – it’s supple, controlled, and rarely troubled by poor surfaces. You’d not want to ferry dignitaries around in the back, but by the standards of most performance cars and even plenty of supersaloons, it’s quite liveable. The tyres do generate plenty of roar, and the vocal V8 always finds a way of permeating the cabin, but otherwise refinement is good, too – wind noise is minimal and you feel effectively cocooned from the outside world.
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This refinement doesn’t come at the expense of involvement. Like the regular XE, the Project 8 steers well – it’s sharp off-centre with good weighting to lean against, even if actual feedback is largely absent until you begin working the tyres harder. Better still, the rest of the car moves in tune with that first steering input, giving Project 8 impressive agility. Good front-end grip helps here, and while you can unstick the rear tyres if you’re brutal, the tractive efforts of all four wheels gives the car effective cross-country pace.
With so much power on tap and the all-wheel drive system always ready to send power rearwards, Project 8 is adjustable on the throttle too – though it’s something you’d be more inclined to explore on track than the road, given the car’s size and the commitment needed to unstick the rears. And it’s certainly fun on track, but nor, with so much weight to carry around, does it feel completely natural.