What is it?
The Mastretta is the first car fully designed and built in Mexico. You could think of it as Mexico’s take on the Lotus Elise: composite body, aluminium-bonded chassis and a mid-mounted powertrain.
The car we’re driving today is very much a pre-production prototype; it’s powered by a Volkswagen TFSI engine, whereas the production cars will have a turbocharged Ford Duratec motor with around 238bhp. The whole car is targeted to weigh 900kg, which puts it right on a par with the Elise.
Lifestyle Cars, which is the European importer, pitches the car in a gap between the Lotus Exige and Noble.
What’s it like?
The Mastretta is an interesting looking car, very straight-edged and compact. Looks good in orange, too. Unfortunately this pre-production car is a million miles away from being ready for sale, and not just because it’s fitted with the wrong engine.
The company knows this and provided a list of changes that will be made before the car goes into volume production. It’s a long list that contains most of our observations. But not all of them.
The steering is heavy, with none of the feel of an Elise’s rack; indeed, it feels like a powered rack that’s had its hydraulic pump disconnected.
More serious is the rear suspension. It feels as though there’s a weak bushing in the wishbone to the chassis mountings, as there’s a serious amount of what is almost certainly toe-out in cornering. The car feels seriously unstable at speed in constant-radius corners; it needs sorting.
New brakes are on their way from Hi-Tec, which is good because the units on this car are pretty poor, with barely any pedal feel.
Should I buy one?
Certainly not for a while. The Mastretta has the makings of a nice sports car that’s at the right price, but there’s probably a year’s work needed to sort out all of its deficiencies. The important thing is that Mastretta is aware that it’s got a big job to do. How well it does it will very much define the car’s future sales potential.