With new projects like the XE SV Project 8, SVO deserves its time in the spotlight

A few days ago, Jaguar released a special edition version of the XE compact sedan. Most of you may have heard or read about it, but its unveiling wasn’t met with the same “break-the-Internet” vibe as similar products released by Ferrari (the Ferrari J50) and Lamborghini (the Lamborghini Centenerio). Part of it isn’t Jaguar’s fault because a car like the XE SV Project 8 doesn’t illicit the same level of awe as the J50 and the Centenerio. But how much of it is related to Jaguar and SVO not getting the respect it feels it deserves?

There’s an element of truth in the rationale that Jaguar is slowly building its name back to relevance after years of toiling in mediocrity. It’s done a remarkable job in recent years, but there’s still some level of hesitancy when it comes to believing that Jaguar has returned to the level of rivals like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The introduction of SVO, or as it’s really called, Special Vehicles Operations, is meant to bring that Jaguar name closer to the marque. This is where a car like the XE SV Project 8 comes into the picture, and if you haven’t been a fan of SVO’s work in the past, then you will be once you see what this juiced-up XE compact sedan is fully capable of. The full scope of details covering the XE SV Project 8 will be revealed when it makes its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of the month.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Step out from the shadows, SVO

Jaguar Land Rover's SVO Division Needs To Be Recognized As One Of The Best In The Business Exterior High Resolution
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Jaguar says that the objective of this special project XE is to take the model’s “aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level.”

Jaguar says that the objective of this special project XE is to take the model’s “aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level.” Those are big claims, but if the initial returns of the car are any indication, those goals may not be as out of reach as some of us think. As far as we know, the XE SV Project 8 is being prepared with an eye towards significant improvements in the sedan’s power output and handling and performance capabilities.

We also know that the special edition XE is powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine that produces 600 horsepower, making it the most powerful road-legal Jaguar in history. That number is 220 horsepower more than the standard, range-topping XE S, which itself tops out at 380 horsepower. Imagine then what the XE SV Project 8 is capable if the XE S can sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before maxing out at 155 mph. Jaguar has yet to release performance numbers, but that extra 220 horses should help the sedan cover the same acceleration group in the mid-three seconds on its way to a top speed of about 190 mph.

That’s the extent of what Jaguar revealed about the latest SVO creation and for us to get the full spec of details, we’re going to have to wait for the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month to have a proper understanding and appreciation of the XE SV Project 8.

For now, though, let’s put in perspective the work SVO has done in the past and shine a light on its previous projects.

Jaguar F-Type Project 7

2015 Jaguar F-Type Project 7 High Resolution Exterior
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note: photo of the Jaguar F-Type Project 7

The release of the F-Type Project 7 concept was shortly followed by the production version.

Remember this thing of beauty that Jaguar presented at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed? Based on the Jaguar F-Type roadster, the F-Type Project 7 marked a turning point in Jaguar’s return to relevance because it showed the industry something it hadn’t done since releasing the XJ220 supercar in the early 90’s. It proved, more than anything else, that it could build a performance concept that people not only talked about but openly gushed over. The release of the F-Type Project 7 concept was shortly followed by the production version, which borrowed the concept’s aggressive body kit, including the rollover hoop behind the driver’s seat that was inspired by the classic, Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type. That kind of attention to detail made the F-Type Project 7 stand out, not only as a Jaguar, but as an actual limited-run sports car in a segment that never seemed to run out of them.

It also helped that the F-Type Project 7 had the power and performance credentials to back up its sharp and dynamic appearance. While the engine - a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine - remained the same as the one found on the F-Type R Coupe, JLR’s SVO unit made sure to give the Project 7 a leg-up in power and performance with an output of 567 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. At the time of its release, the F-Type Project 7 was regarded as the most powerful Jaguar ever built. Obviously, that’s no longer the case because the follow-up to that model – the Project 8 – has ascended to the top to take that mantle.

Up to this point, the Jaguar F-Type Project 7 remains the crowning achievement of JLR’s SVO unit, even though only 250 units of the production version were built. But to say that it sits alone on the mantle of SVO’s past works isn’t true. That’s because the division has also worked on a number of Land Rover models, one of which is the Range Rover SVO Holland and Holland Special Edition.

Range Rover SVO Holland and Holland Special Edition.

2015 Land Rover Range Rover SVO Holland & Holland Special Edition Exterior
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Meet the Land Rover Range Rover SVO Holland & Holland Special Edition, AKA the most expensive Range Rover to date.

note: photo of the Range Rover SVO Holland and Holland Special Edition.

Developed in collaboration with British riflemaker Holland & Holland, the limited edition Range Rover first turned heads in 2014 when it was billed as the “most expensive Range Rover in history.”

The Range Rover’s reputation as one of the most sought-after premium SUVs in the market isn’t a matter of debate. It was earned through years of developing some of the most well-rounded and versatile vehicles in its segment. Every so often though, the Range Rover ascends to an even higher level of class and sophistication and no more was that on full display than with SVO’s presentation of the Holland and Holland Special Edition.

Developed in collaboration with British riflemaker Holland & Holland, the limited edition Range Rover first turned heads in 2014 when it was billed as the “most expensive Range Rover in history.” That label comes with a lot of expectations and for the most part, the SUV more than lived up to them. For instance, it featured a Holland and Holland Green paint finish, the only vehicle in the world to get that shade of green. It also received tan-and-espresso leather upholstery on the interior and Executive Class seating at the back. The limited edition Range Rover’s most notable claim to fame though was the removable, leather-trimmed, aluminum load space cabinet found in the cargo area of the SUV. The cabinet houses a pair of Holland & Holland rifles.

Power figures didn’t jump quite like how they did with the F-Type Project 7. Still, the Range Rover Holland and Holland Special Edition featured a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 that fires off 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Both versions come with eight-speed automatic transmissions. A separate version for the 4.4-liter SDV8 trim was also created with power numbers for that variant adding up to 339 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

Land Rover and SVO only released 120 units of the Range Rover Holland and Holland Special Edition. That’s a small enough number that has helped the SUV retain its exclusive status, even to this day.

What can we expect from the Jaguar XE SV Project 8?

Jaguar Land Rover's SVO Division Needs To Be Recognized As One Of The Best In The Business Exterior High Resolution
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If Jaguar’s typical boasts ring true once again, the XE SV Project 8 will not only live up to the standards set by its predecessors, but more importantly, it could be the model that reshapes the way we think about JLR and SVO. I’m definitely hoping that ends up being the case because SVO deserves the recognition for its past, present, and future creations.

Step out from the shadows and get your well-deserved applause, SVO. I’ve never felt that you’ve ever gotten what you deserved, but if the XE SV Project 8 is as good as the Project 7 that it’s succeeding, you won’t need to look for the recognition. We’re going to give it to you anyway.

Read our full review on the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 here.

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