Aspid’s stunning performance results from advanced weight saving initiatives
Award-winning Spanish automotive design and technology company IFR Automotive has revealed a wealth of weight, fuel and CO2 saving technical innovations running throughout the chassis, suspension, brakes and electrical systems of its new Aspid luxury sportscar making its world debut at the British International Motor Show.
The Aspid's 700kg kerb weight is minimal by any standard and less than half the weight of a typical premium sportscar. With 400bhp available from its 2-litre supercharged engine the virtually unmatched power-to-weight ratio gives awesome acceleration with the car reaching 62mph in 2.8 seconds and 100mph in 5.9 seconds.
The Aspid is also very compact - with a wheelbase smaller than a city car - and cleverly packaged to accommodate even the tallest driver and passenger. Despite its size, the fully enclosed two-seater is comprehensively equipped and as far removed from being a ‘stripped down to the bare essentials' track-day special that you could possibly imagine, which its performance figures would also suggest. It is first and foremost a premium sportscar designed for the road.
"The whole point of the Aspid is that it is small and lightning fast, just like its namesake," says company founder Ignacio Fernández Rodriquez. "But we also believe it's the first genuine attempt at producing an unusually compact luxury sportscar, not just with impeccable road holding and handling, but also with the highest possible quality for a car of its size."
"Our market research confirms the importance of a supercar having strong emotional appeal. But it also has to be totally unique. Combine these two factors with the need for robust environmental credentials and the result is what we've endeavoured to achieve with the Aspid."
Looking at the bigger picture, Fernández believes all the technical innovations the company has developed for the Aspid could be applied to a wide range of vehicles including mass produced cars, thereby making a relevant contribution to sustainable personal mobility.
Underpinning its massive weight saving is an ultra-lightweight aluminium extrusion composite panelled chassis with a mass of just 75kg. The new and innovative construction method offers up to ten times the torsional stiffness of a conventional un-panelled space-frame and enhanced crash protection.
Similarly, the car's major innovation in its suspension is an ultra-lightweight aluminium extrusion, developed for the double wishbone system, with a special profile that provides immense stiffness and rigidity in all directions and minimises stresses under torsional, longitudinal and vertical bending loads.
The Aspid also introduces an ultra-lightweight stainless steel brake system comprised of thin twin discs each with turbine-shaped slots for maximum air cooling and braking efficiency. The design results in a low un-sprung mass and rotational inertia and a weight saving of more than 70 per cent compared with normal brake systems.
IFR's expertise in vehicle dynamics has allowed the company to extract the maximum benefit from all this weight reduction, to provide the driver with massively enhanced feedback through the steering wheel, sublime handling and a superb grip of the road at all times thanks to the excellent balance it has achieved by using lightweight structures throughout the car.
The impressive weight saving, however, doesn't end there. Aspid features an all-new and fully-integrated electronic and electrical system developed for the whole car. The company has reduced the usual complexity of these systems by eliminating countless components, assemblies and microprocessors.
The result is a significant reduction in the weight of electrical systems and harnessing to around one-third that of current layouts with a comparable reduction in the number of microprocessors to about one for every four that would typically be specified in a modern car. IFR has achieved this without compromising the myriad tasks that need to be performed. In fact, the opposite is true and the level of functionality has actually increased.
The most noticeable change for the driver is the elimination of traditional instrumentation replaced by one or more interactive touch screens. These allow the driver to change many parameters such as the rev limit, valve timing, power output, steering assistance, ABS, noise valve, brake balance, ride height, traction and stability controls, as well as influencing the pitch, roll and yaw of the car by adjusting its damping characteristics.
For motorsport enthusiasts the system offers an in-built and extendable data logging capability, readily configured for all OBD (onboard diagnostics) and CAN (control area network) sensors with 24 analogue channels available and upwards. For the road this is complemented by GPS satellite navigation, GPRS/GSM mobile communications, motion sensing accelerometers, Wi Fi wireless technology, Ethernet interface connections, as well as touch screens for both driver and co-driver.
The system can help reconfigure the car to suit different drivers and different driving conditions and can ensure the Aspid is set-up correctly for the road or track. It can even direct the driver through a series of tests and operations that will enable it to calculate engine torque and power.
"The result of all these technical innovations, careful choice of materials and volumetric efficiency is a high level of performance without compromising the ease with which the car can be driven on normal roads," says Fernández. "Its compact design makes the most efficient use of the Aspid's available space and the whole car is extremely well packaged. Its low mass and significant weight advantage also ensures excellent fuel economy and correspondingly low CO2 emissions."