There are the obvious reasons why Jaguar would want to build Jaguar XE SV Project 8 high performance sedan: infinite opportunities for marketing and magazine covers, the performance halo from a 592-hp car, a chance for dealers and the brand to reward favored clients.
But there's a less obvious motivation that Jaguar hopes will pay dividends down the line: on-the-job training.
The Project 8 is overseen by Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations in Coventry, England, the division responsible for limited-edition variants such as Jaguar's F-Type SVR and Project 7, the Range Rover Sport SVR and the Range Rover SVAutobiography.
The hand-built Project 8 is a limited-run series of 300 cars, costing around $190,000 each (the program is profitable, the company insists). It's based on the more mild-mannered XE, Jaguar's compact sport sedan.
But the XE was never designed to hold a V-8 engine of any kind, certainly not the surly 5.0-liter supercharged unit in the Project 8. Neither was it designed to hit 200 mph (322 kph) or do 0 to 60 (97 kph) in 3.3 seconds, abilities promised by the Project 8.
Getting there required creativity and elbow grease from Dave Foster, SVO's product creation manager — the engineer overseeing the XE's Clark-Kent-to-Superman-like transformation.
"It's been a significant challenge," Foster told Automotive News, with classic British understatement.
The front of the car is longer to fit the larger wheels and tires.
The engine compartment has been reorganized and the bulkhead moved to make space for the engine, cooling system, brake lines and engine harness.
The floor of the trunk has been raised to make room for a differential cooler that wasn't planned on the base XE.
And of the body panels on the Project 8, only the front doors and roof carry over from the regular car. Everything else is custom — and functional.