2008 IFR Aspid.
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IFR Automotive takes ground-breaking approach to its Aspid sports car. Same power-to-weight ratio as a supercar - with half the vehicle mass. Outperforms hardcore track racers - without compromising luxury. A pure driver’s car designed for the 21st century.
IFR’s luxury two-seater is the result of an uncompromised five-year development programme by a top team of professional automotive engineers who have set out to create a vehicle with distinctive looks, outstanding road holding, the most predictable handling possible, and exceptional levels of performance both on and off the track.
The extensive engineering has resulted in a highly developed sports car with well resolved vehicle dynamics. Notably, the Aspid delivers its track performance without compromising the ease and reliability with which it can be driven about town and in the countryside. Another desirable quality is that it makes the most efficient use of its available space and is extremely well packaged.
As a technology showcase for demonstrating the company’s design and engineering capabilities, the Aspid’s packed with advanced technical features and patented innovations. The strong immensely stiff chassis, for example, underpins the car’s superb dynamic performance and tenacious road holding, while the car’s compactness and low mass ensures excellent fuel economy and correspondingly low CO2 emissions.
“The Aspid has been engineered to deliver a high level of driving pleasure,” says company founder, managing director and automotive engineer Ignacio Fernández Rodriquez, whose initials give IFR Automotive its name. “It brings a new and unique definition to what a sportscar should be and what it can do. From the outset our aim was to invoke the most intense emotions a car can generate, so the driver can really enjoy it for daily use with high levels of performance available on the track.”
The car’s design began with no restrictions whatsoever on the positioning of key chassis and suspension components; a three-dimensional geometric void - literally an empty space - was the start point for constructing the car. This unusual approach successfully delivered the optimum linear relationship between all chassis and suspension variables. The driving characteristics are further underpinned by an optimum weight distribution between front and rear axles and a similar optimum polar moment of inertia; all helping to provide the driver with the finest possible driving experience.
The new sports car has an impressive design and engineering pedigree. Formerly with Prodrive, Rodriquez subsequently joined the Mitsubishi World Rally Championship team as race engineer for Alister McRae and François Delecour. Rodriquez founded IFR Automotive in 2003 and began work immediately on the new sports car project, while handling confidential car and commercial vehicle assignments from industry clients.
Rodriquez has recruited a team of highly experienced automotive engineers, many with a similar top level motorsport background. Chief dynamics engineer Breno Oliveira, for example, also worked at Prodrive. The development of the car has also benefited from the input of Sergi Arranz, an experienced motor industry test driver who was previously head of dynamics testing at SEAT.
“For the Aspid our aim was to advance the current state-of-the-art particularly in the critical area of steering, handling and road holding,” says Rodriquez. “We have taken a new approach on vehicle dynamics, including a new construction method for the chassis, as well as developing new brakes and suspension arms. We’ve also broken with the tradition that says a long wheelbase, wide track and low ride height is best for performance; our chassis and suspension philosophy ensures the car can also be driven with ease on normal roads.”
“The electronics too are highly innovative and include a sophisticated interface between the driver and the car; a mere touch of the interactive screen located in the centre console and the Aspid is instantly reprogrammed with a whole new set-up to suit different road and track conditions. But mostly it will be the car’s rapid acceleration, cornering poise and equally brisk deceleration that will ensure a memorable driving experience.”
The Aspid is the only car in the world to meet both FIA safety requirements and European homologation standards. This means it already has the strength within its main body structure to avoid the need for an additional roll cage; it really can be driven from the road directly onto the race track without the need for any special preparation. And after a hard race the car is robust, durable and safe enough to be driven again on public roads.
Aspid prototypes feature a 2-litre engine; either naturally aspirated to deliver 270bhp or supercharged to 400bhp. The engines are highly modified by IFR, such that the engine block can be sourced from a number of possible suppliers. Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a manual 6-speed gearbox and limited-slip differential.
The lightweight aluminum and carbon structure of the car, which has a mass of just 700kg (1,550lb) and the resulting 570bhp-per-tonne (1.75kg/bhp) power-to-weight ratio gives awe-inspiring acceleration on the track, with the car reaching 62mph (100km/h) in 2.8 seconds and 100mph (160km/h) in 5.9 seconds.
That, however, is only half the story since the car has equally remarkable braking performance and can stop dead in its tracks from 100mph (160km/h) in 3.0 seconds. When cornering, the car can generate enormous grip and an intense 1.6g of lateral acceleration. Maximum speed is restricted to 155mph (250km/h).
The Aspid’s natural proving ground for its development includes the notorious mountainous roads used for the main stages of the Catalonia Rally. The mountains are near Reus in northern Spain, where the company is based, close to the coastal cities of Tarragona and Barcelona. Also conveniently nearby are the new vehicle technology park and race circuits of the MotorLand Aragón project now under construction at Alcañiz.
Following its exclusive motor show preview and final testing of the car, journalists will have the opportunity to drive the first production models later this year. With advance orders already taken, a six month lead time for components, and the company aiming initially to build cars at the rate of just one a week, the first customers can expect to take delivery next summer.
With a long list of options, no two Aspids will be exactly alike. And with each one tailored to the precise needs of each individual customer the anticipated base price of £75,000 (€95,000) and upwards for this ultra-exclusive super-quick luxury sports car, which is full of quality bespoke parts, can only serve as an approximate guide. Expect fully loaded models to cost twice as much.
So what’s behind the name? Aspid is the Spanish name for the small and very quick snake that killed Cleopatra. It is thought to have been a member of the cobra or viper family and is native to southern Europe. And as we all know vipers and cobras tend to move very quickly.
The Aspid and its main technical innovations will be displayed at the British International Motor Show in London docklands in the north hall (stand N8A) of the ExCel exhibition centre. The show runs from Wednesday July 23 to Sunday, August 3rd, 2008.
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