Heading into 2019, the fastest sedan in the world doesn’t emanate from Stuttgart, Munich, or Detroit. How did the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 do it? Find out here.
For the past couple of decades, manufacturer rivals from Germany and Detroit have competed and exchanged rights to the claim of “fastest sedan in the world.” The agreed upon battleground for the fastest sedan title? Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleife race track.
Performance sedans like the BMW M5, Mercedes-AMG E63 (and now E63 S), and Cadillac CTS-V have defined the segment and each impressed with lap time accomplishments generation to generation.
Around the turn of the 21stcentury the original performance sedan Q-ship, the E39 BMW M5, set things in motion by lapping the Nurburgring in 8 minutes and 28 seconds. That was 10 seconds faster than the Honda NSX that Ayrton Senna helped to develop.
Then in 2008 the Cadillac CTS-V became the first ever production sedan to complete the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap in under 8 minutes (7:59 to be exact). That feat sent shockwaves through the performance car world, and set the benchmark for what was possible in a performance sedan.
Just about a decade later the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sedan has managed to go faster, a lot faster — putting in a stunning lap time of 7:21.23.
For context, that’s quicker than the Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, BMW M4 GTS, and dozens of other world-renowned supercars & factory track cars. It’s even a few tenths faster than the current generation Ferrari 488 GTB as tested by Sport Auto. A Jaguar sedan that’s ready to go blow for blow with Maranello’s latest on the world’s most demanding race track — how’d Jaguar do it?
Needless to say, the XE SV Project 8 doesn’t have much in common with the standard Jaguar XE sedan. To achieve fastest sedan status Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team gave the XE SV Project 8 a full workover.
Starting from the ground up, the XE SV Project 8 is fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Not exactly commonplace among sedans, Cup 2’s are Original Equipment (OE) on vehicles like the Porsche 911 GT3 and capable of slashing many seconds from lap times as compared to HP and UHP tires. Unique flared bodywork on the Project 8 allows for 265 mm section width front tires, and 305 mm rear.
Stopping power is provided by a carbon ceramic braking system (400 mm discs front, 396mm discs rear). Motorsport-grade (high boiling point) brake fluid is included straight from the factory to help cope with the extreme braking demands of the Nurburgring’s 12.9 miles, and therefore your performance driving activities as well.
Copious acceleration is achieved with a 5.0-liter Supercharged V8 engine, which produces 592 horsepower. While the XE SV Project 8 will probably be most renowned for its road course accomplishments and capabilities, it’s also worth noting that it’s a 200 mph, 3.3 seconds to 60 mph car… That makes it the fastest accelerating vehicle that Jaguar has ever made.
The massive power is mated with a rear-drive biased all-wheel drive system, and an Electronic Active Differential (EAD) that manages torque to the rear wheels. The EAD “is designed to ensure optimum ability to put power and traction to the road in varying situations and contributes to the exceptional lap times achievable by the Project 8.”*
Significant aerodynamic elements, developed with wind tunnel and simulation testing, further enhance the Project 8’s traction capabilities. The rather noticeable rear wing produces 269 lbs of downforce at 186 mph, and an adjustable front splitter helps to keep the front end planted and balance the rear downforce. A redesigned trunk floor optimizes air flow through the carbon fiber rear diffuser, and the rear bumper features “drag-reducing airflow management creases and cut-away lower wheelarch trailing edges.”*
Despite the extensive use of carbon fiber (hood, bumpers, aero elements), the XE SV Project 8 still weighs in at a portly 3,847 lbs., which arguably makes the Nurburgring lap time accomplishment all the more impressive.
Only 300 XE SV Project 8’s will be made, and in the U.S. the starting price of admission is… $187,500. Production should be getting underway this summer.
Hey, world’s fastest anything comes at a price. And with Mercedes, BMW, and Cadillac having recently introduced their flagship performance sedans (the new M5 lapped the ring in 7:38.92), $187k should buy you bragging rights for at least a few years.
Not to mention, a lot of befuddled sports car drivers at your track days.