More than 100 potential customers have signed up for an exclusive two days of high performance motoring thrills test driving the new Aspid sports car. Following the successful introduction of the car, IFR Automotive is now seeking to create a network of international dealers.

Described by a leading motoring magazine as the "Bugatti from Barcelona", the compact two-seater attracted the high level of interest when it swept in quietly under the radar following five years of secret development to make its world debut at the British International Motor Show.

IFR, an automotive engineering consultancy that developed the supercar, expects most of its clientele will use the ride and drive event to confirm their interest and place deposits.  It means the company could be facing a full order book for the next couple of years as it plans to produce the exclusive hand-built cars at the rate of less than one a week.

 

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IFR is determined not to fall into the classic trap of setting unrealistically high sales targets and can make the project profitable building even fewer than 50 cars a year.  By restricting the number of cars it builds it is also aiming to protect the investment of its clientele.

"We've been absolutely delighted with the level of interest from customers, the media and industry alike," said company founder and automotive engineer Ignacio Fernandez.   "Naturally, we're thrilled that so many people have signed up for this unique opportunity to evaluate the Aspid on test tracks and public roads.

"We've worked very hard to redefine the modern sportscar and make it relevant to the needs of the 21st century.  Almost everyone we met at the show has recognised that a lightweight and compact design is the way forward.  We've aimed for a car with outstanding performance and driveability.  And its exceptionally low mass ensures excellent fuel economy and correspondingly low CO2 emissions."

The opportunity for the drive of a lifetime will take place in the mountains of northern Spain, close to the coastal cities of Tarragona and Barcelona, where the company is based.   The test drive will most likely include the precipitous roads used for the main stages of the Catalonia Rally, which has formed part of the Aspid's natural proving ground during its five year development programme.

Weighing in at less than 700kg, yet full of luxury touches such as climate control and touch screens as well as having an enclosed cabin, the Aspid represents a new breed of lightweight compact sports car.  Packed full of advanced technical innovations in the chassis, suspension, brakes and electronic systems, the Aspid offers exceptional performance particularly relating to road holding, handling and safety.

Interestingly, the majority of potential customers for the car have expressed a preference for the more expensive supercharged model, which is priced at £107,000, more so than the 270bhp naturally aspirated version which will be sold at £75,000.

"Prospective customers have worked out that you can spend a lot more preparing other makes of cars for the race track," says Fernandez.  "With the Aspid it all comes as standard.  The car is unique inasmuch as it meets FIA safety requirements as well as European homologation standards; so 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."

Potential clients also seem to appreciate the personal touch.  Fernandez remained on the stand throughout the motor show answering every question imaginable that has been put to him about the car he's created and the company he's founded.

"We particularly enjoyed the visits from other carmakers interested in the Aspid's technology, which can be applied to a wide range of vehicles," said Fernandez.  "The need to significantly reduce the weight of all vehicles is a highly topical subject and important to the entire industry in terms of delivering personal mobility that is environmentally friendly, socially acceptable and economically sustainable.

"We've also been pleased with comments from motoring journalists and other media who took the opportunity for a close look at the car while it was at the show," added Fernadez.

The Autocar website, for example, has a video of their writers' pick of the best cars at the show.  Deputy news editor Will Powell cast his vote for the Aspid as being "something special in low volume sports cars" citing the "loads of clever technology and loads of carbon fibre".  In the magazine itself, news editor Dan Stevens refers to the "tiny two-seater … as a showcase for some clever new technologies that could be used in more conventional, higher-volume vehicles."

The Aspid also proved a favourite with Dan Trent, a journalist with the popular MSN Cars motoring website, which placed the car in its Top 10 for the show:   "The amazing build quality and astonishing technology had me stunned. And then I heard about the sub-3 sec 0-62 time.  Check out the interior too and the neat F1 style steering wheel with all the controls and dials incorporated into one unit.  And if you go to a track you can even download telemetry from a previous lap by a pro driver and it will flash up braking points on the steering wheel for you. Seriously cool."

Not surprisingly, the Spanish media have written extensively about their home grown talent in vehicle design with coverage in the leading national daily newspapers ABC and El Pais as well as a front cover story and articles in the regional dailies El Punt and El Periodico and the local newspaper Diari de Tarragona.  The Spanish weekly car magazines Autobild, Hebdo Sport, Auto Pista and Motor 16 have all written about the car.

It's not the first time that Ignacio Fernandez has received accolades from a motor show appearance.  In Detroit in 2001 he was part of the design team responsible for the Cadillac Cien concept, officially recognised as the best engineered car at the show.