XKR SVO

The XKR SVO represents an exploration into the future performance heart of Jaguar. "The brief was to design a track-day car for the wealthy chap who wants to drive a proper car with a manual gearbox," explains SVO principal engineer Martin Thirlaway. “It offers excellent feedback and good dynamics - but it's not hideous in normal use. It's a very fine balance."
 
This Jaguar is seam-welded, comes cemented around a half roll cage and sports carpeted helmet bins where the rear seats should be.  There's an optical illusion playing down its deep green, high-gloss flanks: XKR SVO looks as if it's a chop-top, had an inch surreptitiously excised from pillars A, B and C. Not so. Few cars hunker down onto 20-inch wheels with such visual confidence. The SVO XKR handling pack slices more than a quarter of an inch from the ride height-this car gets a further three-quarters of an inch pared away. Suddenly, those buxom fenders flow into Pirelli PZeros-35-profile on the front, 30-profile on the back-on 10-inch-wide rear and nine-inch front wheels. This project isn't about riffling through the present and future Jaguar performance option parts book before bending your Visa card thoroughly out of shape. This is about engineering. "The back-end work was the biggie," admits Thirlaway. "We had to do significant body mods to the back end of the car to carry over the S-Type suspension. The S-Type suspension is fully adjustable-so we can play tunes with it. The current XK rear end has only got one wishbone and a driveshaft and you're pretty limited with that setup.
 
 That new independent rear end demanded a newfuel tank, slimmer and located further forward than the usual XKR placement. The axle installation is neat, but effectively eliminated usable rear seats.  "It's got a quick steering rack in it," continues Thirlaway. "The big BBS Detroit wheels: We've made them a bit special with a diamond-turned edge. Eibach coilover-shock front suspension: Eibach has had the car and done some preliminary work with it. And Brembo brakes: We've taken the bushes out of the front suspension to give a solid feel and good driver feedback."  Engine upgrades are comparatively gentle. Starting with overdriving the supercharger. "By about 10 percent," confirms Thirlaway. "We've increased the volume of the charge-air  cooler to try and keep things going in cool. We stuck a twin air-intake system on it just to try and allow it to breathe a little better-and that looks great under the bonnet because it looks all nice and symmetrical."
 
 We think it's got the potential for 450 hp. But what you've got to bear in mind is that this is straight out of the box. We really haven't done any development yet." The gearbox is all-new, demanding for the first time that an XKR driver exercises his left leg upon tackling intriguing roads.
 
"The box is a Tremec six-speed manual. A new twin-plate AP Racing clutch, selected to lessen flywheel inertia, adds to the quick-revving, responsive throttle feel. "We've got some mouldings on the front end - a lower skirt, an extra intake to get a bit more cold air going in," says Thirlaway. "Put some steel louvers in the bonnet. And aluminium instrument bezels. Carbon fibre 'wood set'-that's a personal thing, you'll love it or hate it. Alcantara trim. Aluminium pedals. Recaro seats."  In truth, there are two XKR SVO prototypes – but there have actually been three. First was a proof-of-concept The second was a fully functioning runner lacking a few key items of cosmetic surgery. Finally, the show Car, license plate X100 SVO, contained all the techy-bits but was not intended to be driven in a wholly engaging manner.  
 
 This project will continue to be honed. "We can move it on from where it is in a limited way-and that's what we intend to do," says Massey. Only one communication need be sent to Jaguar management. XKR SVO? Just do it. And quickly.

 

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