Jaguar says that its performance brand, Special Vehicle Operations, will not be limited to just V8 engines as improving engine technology and ever-tightening emissions regulations make a solid case for smaller engines.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the launch of the Jaguar F-Pace in Europe this week, Jaguar’s director of public relations, Richard Agnew, confirmed that SVO will turn its attention to other engine types in the future.
“We can't possibly say that SVO has to be V8, with the way the world is changing and also the way engine technology is changing as well,” Agnew told CarAdvice.
“Who would’ve thought that 400 horsepower [298kW] out of a four cylinder is possible? So it doesn’t have to be a V8. What it needs to be, though, is have enough over the derivative below it so it does have the credentials to wear the SVR badge.”
Agnew said that while some brands such as BMW M have dropped V8s from the likes of the M3 in favour of turbocharged six cylinders, other brands like Mercedes-AMG have shown that V8s can still exist in the modern world, hinting at the direction that Jaguar may take.
“You see AMG designing a new V8 and I think you look at the C-Class AMG and versus the [BMW] M and I think they would disappointed they went to a six and AMG have 100hp on them… that new [Mercedes] V8 they’ve got is a state-of-the-art biturbo with super-low emissions, it’s a great engine,” he said.
Jaguar’s now six-year-old 5.0-litre V8 engine still has life left in it, according to the brand’s chief engineer, Mike Cross, who told us that it’s a relatively under-stressed engine with even more power potential (it currently tops out at 423kW and 700Nm).
Nonetheless, Agnew admits that it's not all size and cylinders for SVR-badged models.
“It’s not all about capacity - even those hardened petrol-heads understand this power-to-weight ratio and power delivery. And if that comes out of smaller-capacity forced-induction engines, as long as they go well and sound great, I can see in the future a whole suite of options available for SVR.”
The drive away from V8s is largely spurred by higher taxes on emissions being put forward across the world, which in turn affects consumer demand.
“There are two things. One is consumer demand - consumers want to buy V8s, [so] there is no point in us making them if consumers don’t want them. The second thing is, of course, emissions regulations globally. Whether it's CO2 or NOX or fuel economy, we are taxed on emissions, so emissions will drive consumer behaviour as it often does. So we are looking closely at future powertrain strategy," Agnew said.
One method that may aid the Special Vehicle Operations outfit in the future is electrification of its powertrains, something the performance brand is open to.
“We stated we are going to have an electric car. One thing about electric cars is that their performance is, dare i say ‘electric’, and I think they are some of the game changers in terms of torque delivery and power delivery. In the future, when we have electric cars, what will an SVR version of it be? It will be bloody quick, but it’s too early to say [more]," he said.
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