Electric dreams: New Gordon Murray sportscar

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Old 30-Sep-2011
Electric dreams: New Gordon Murray sportscar

UNP ImageThey say light is right. But let's say you manage to keep the weight off your new electric sportscar and then forget to give it a really gutsy motor, what are you left with? The Teewave AR.1 prototype, that's what.

Designed by Gordon Murray Design Limited (GMD) and Toray Industries Inc a Japanese supplier that specialises in carbon fibre components the AR.1 may have the looks of a supercar. But that's about all it has for it certainly isn't quick. In fact, the only thing fast about this two-seater, built on a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, is that it took GMD and Toray just nine months to complete.

That may sound impressive but since it borrows an already existing electric motor from the Mitsubishi iMiEV and all that was really needed was to design the unique electrical architecture and control units, we're not batting an eyelid. But we are impressed with its amazingly low weight of just 850kg which includes a 16kWh lithium-ion battery weighing 240kg. That puts the rear-wheel drive AR.1 in Lotus Elise territory while it's even lighter than a Tesla.

But this is where things start to get annoying. Weighing about as much as a feather, its horsepower rating ought to be through the roof... but it isn't. It has just 63bhp while its torque figure is marginally better at 180Nm. However, that is not nearly enough to pin you back in your seat and since it takes 11.4 seconds to reach 100kph from a standstill, it's left us wondering why GMD would build such a thing, especially after the legendary McLaren F1 supercar or Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. It may share their carbon-fibre construction, but that's about all. And with a top speed of just 147kph, we find it even more difficult to think they're related. It's not all bad, as its battery can be recharged in about six hours and provides a driving range of approximately 186km.

Granted, it boasts a low centre of gravity and suspension geometry, which according to GMD does give it an excellent ride and handling balance. But 63bhp? We have more power in our middle-aged legs.

What it lacks in performance it makes up for in strength. Its body features aluminium alloy sub-frames at the front and rear, which helped it pass initial crash-tests against Euro Ncap benchmarks.

And with design touches, including an F1-esque ground effect diffuser and Ultra Suede trim on the seats, we're warming up to it.


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