Designed and built in Mexico, this pre-production Mastretta has the makings of a nice sports car, but there's still a lot of work needed
27 August 2008

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.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    21 January 2017
    Is an upgrade to 730bhp and the addition of four-wheel steering enough to realise the Aventador's potential?
  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics