The Spyker C8 Aileron is the Dutch car company’s latest and, undoubtedly, greatest road car creation.
It emanates from the same fearless men of orange who have systematically entered and then dropped out of F1, bought Saab, got rid of it again and, in the meantime, produced some of the world’s weirdest supercars. Spyker is not, it is fair to surmise, your typical sports car company.
To give you an idea what sort of outfit we’re talking about, Spyker’s motto is ‘Nulla tenaci invia est via’. Translated literally this means, ‘For the tenacious no road is impassable’. Or, to put it another way, anything in life is possible – so long as you’ve got the balls. And the V8-engined Aileron certainly has plenty of cojones.
Yet beneath its strikingly aggressive, aircraft industry influenced styling – complete with jet turbine wheel design and jet engine-inspired air intakes – the C8 is an extremely serious piece of kit. The engine and six-speed semi-auto gearbox have been lifted straight out of an Audi S4 and then tuned to suit Spyker’s needs, while the mid-engined space frame aluminium chassis has been designed and set up for Spyker by Lotus.
Power is 395bhp and torque 354lb ft, and if you think these numbers seem somewhat underwhelming in return for the Spyker's substantial price tag, you need to understand two key things about the Aileron.
One, it is made mostly from aluminium and therefore weighs an impressively lithe 1425kg as a result. Two, although it’s meant to be a quick car, the Aileron’s prime motivation is not to destroy its opposition with raw speed. Instead, says Spyker, this car is built to charm its audience with a unique combination of style, grace, pace and exclusivity.
The fact that it’s not as fast as similarly priced rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin et al doesn’t really matter, as far as Spyker is concerned – because Spyker knows its customers aren’t interested in pure speed.
What does matter, according to Spyker, is how the Aileron will feel, sound, look and satisfy its small band of merry owners, of which there will be between 80 and 100 each year, and all of which will already own a small fleet of much faster supercars as well.
In many ways the Aileron is a peculiarly beguiling car, even if it isn’t as quick as you’d expect given its impressive power-to-weight ratio. The good bits include the thunderous noise it makes, the quite extraordinarily exquisite cabin design, the way it steers (which is to say, quite beautifully), and its handling and ride. Oh yes, and its bespoke Louis Vuitton luggage. No, really.
Spyker is dead proud of the fact that it is the first car company in the world to persuade Louis Vuitton to make luggage for its cars as an option. Then again, this particular option does cost, deep breath, just under 20,000 euros. More than anything else, this gives the clearest idea what sort of market the Aileron is aimed at. Namely, the very rich indeed.
The bad bits are the brakes which are snatchy but powerful, the slightly unamazing straight line performance, the poor rear visibility and, of course, the seemingly bonkers showroom price.
It’s only when you climb in and drive the Aileron that the justification for such pricing becomes apparent, however. Because when you ‘get’ the Aileron, when you discover how beautifully made it is inside and out, and appreciate just how much craftsmanship has gone into its creation, the price no longer seems quite so silly. In fact, it almost starts to seem like good value.
But only consider buying one if you are very rich and very confident in your own sense of taste – and very happy to be gawped at wherever you go. It would also help if you were as pleasantly unhinged as the good people from Spyker itself seem to be.
And if all those boxes are ticked then, yes, what’s not to like about a car as beguiling as this?