Development on the Elemental Rp1, the first model from the Surrey-based sportscar maker, is in its final stages with the track-based road car due to go on sale next year.
The Rp1 is the brainchild of former McLaren engineers and Ford designers which began 8 years ago. The brief was to creat a lightweight and simple sportscar to rival the like of a Lotus Elise and Ariel Atom.
“It started as an afterhours project,” Design Manager Guy Colborne, told Auto Express. “Initially we were only ever going to build one, possibly two cars for us to use personally, but it soon attracted interested. Production costs started to become cheaper and tooling became more accessible.”
The Rp1, standing for Race Project 1, is based around an exposed lightweight carbon-composite and aluminium tub. All of the body panels are made from carbon fibre, although there is the possibility of customers being able to order a glass fibre body to reduce costs. Following final tweaks for production models, the Rp1 should tip the scales at under 600kg – around 300kg lighter than a Lotus Elise.
“It’s built like a motorbike, the panels wrap around the carbon and you can see that things are sitting on top of each other,” said Colborne. He referenced Ducatti bikes and the Vauxhall VX 220 as main design inspiration, seen in the swollen haunches and high but centrally mounted exhaust.
Aerodynamics didn’t influence the design as much as you’d imagine, as most of the downforce generated comes from under the floor of the car: “It’s impersonating an LMP car, but with its own identity and a pure racing aesthetic.” The feet-up driving position, like that of an F1 car, keeps the centre of gravity low and enables the engineers to fit enormous under floor front and rear diffusers.
The Rp1 begins to generate downforce at 60mph, while 200kg of downforce is generated at 100mph. Powering the car is a Ford-sourced 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Elemental has bolted on its open ECU map with the four-cylinder engine developing 280bhp and 440Nm of torque. That makes it good for 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds, although John Begley, Technical Director, is confident of a sub 3.0 second sprint after final tweaks.
A smaller 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will also be offered to buyers, developing between 160bhp and 180bhp. Both engines will be mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox operated via steering wheel mounted paddles. The Rp1 is also fully adjustable, with buyers able to alter damper rates for road or track use, increase the ride height and adjust the camber.
Production will begin in October with first customers likely to get their cars at the beginning of next year. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but Begley says it will be priced between a £37,200 Elise and a £110,000 BAC Mono. That’s not much to go on, but given the extended use of carbon fibre expect the final figure to be around the £60,000 mark.
But the Rp1 may not be the only model to come out of the Surrey-based brand. “When you look at the architecture, the modular platform of the car, there are other things we can do with it, but the race ethos must remain,” Colborne told us.
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