If you were asked to dream up the perfect sports car, it would most likely be mid-engined and about the size of an MX-5, with Aston Martin-like styling and German build quality.
Dream no more. This smartly styled 300bhp 3.6-litre V6-powered coupe - called the Artega - is making its world debut at the Geneva motor show this week.
Created by little-known German component supplier, Paragon, the Artega is a mid-engined two-seater, described by insiders as a modern intepretation of the legendary Lancia Stratos.
It has been conceived as part of a project designed to showcase Paragon’s engineering capabilities. However, it’s more than just a one-off. Plans are for the Artega to head into low-volume production in early 2008.
It is expected to cost around £50,000; a price that pitches the Artega into direct competition with the likes of the Porsche Cayman S, BMW Z4 M Coupe and Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG.
Among those lending support to the Artega project is Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, the former BMW manger credited with the resurrection of Rolls-Royce before briefly heading up Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
Another well-known name connected with the new car is former Aston Martin design boss, Henrick Fisker. The talented Dane, who is credited with the slick lines of the Aston DB9 and V8 Vantage, was contracted to style the compact Artega.
Autocar sources say the Artega measures just 3950mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1180mm in height – roughly the size of a Mazda MX5. It is powered by a mid-mounted 3.6-litre V6 engine sourced from Volkswagen.
Essentially the same four-valve-per-cylinder unit used in the upcoming Passat R36, it kicks out a claimed 300bhp, with drive going to the rear wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and limited-slip diff.
No weight figures have been revealed, although insiders say it's good for 0-60mph in under 5.0sec and a top speed of around 165mph. Early test cars are already close to these figures.
Following the Artega’s debut in Geneva, Paragon plans to open an engineering and assembly plant near the northern German city of Paderborn with a capacity for up to 500 cars a year. The first customer cars are due in June 2008.