From £89,785
Mid-engined and lightweight two-seater is pitched as a rival to the Porsche Cayman S

What is it?

A direct challenger to Porsche’s brilliant Cayman S, produced by a German company that you’ve almost certainly never heard of.

A tough assignment: but bear in mind that the Artega is backed by the multi-millionaire owner of a major motor industry component supplier, it’s been designed by Henrik Fisker (late of Aston Martin) and the bloke bringing it to market is Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, the guy behind BMW’s best M-series cars, plus Mini, Rolls-Royce and lots of other important (and successful) projects.

The Artega GT is a compact but roomy mid-engined two-seater coupe, with full safety equipment. The production aim is for 500 units a year, all for sale in Europe, though America is a longer-term objective.

The GT is a mid-engined car built with an aluminium space-frame and powered by the same 297bhp, 3.6-litre Volkswagen V6 engine that fires-up the range-topping Passat CC.

The GT’s compactness makes it light: it’s tipped to weigh around 1170kg at the kerb and undercut a Porsche by around 10 per cent.

What’s it like?

To judge from the near-production prototype that we drove, the omens are extremely good.

The GT has a six-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox that works brilliantly with the mid-mounted V6 engine. Indeed, the motor’s crisp exhaust note makes it sound like a little V8.

Thanks to the low weight and the engine’s wide power-band, the car feels fast: it won a fair drag race with a Mitsubishi Evo X. The way it gets off the mark is particularly impressive, courtesy of its relative lack of mass and excellent traction.

The best part of the experience is the way it copes with the ruts, ripples, bumps and uneven cambers that are typical of British backroads.

The suspension has a remarkable ability to absorb the bumps quietly while maintaining sporty poise. The steering is light, accurate and uncorrupted: you hold the wheel to feel it, rather than grip it.

Other parts of the GT’s dynamic repertoire are similarly impressive. The brakes are powerful and quite light, with a kind of self-energised feel.

Taken all round, it looks like a fine road car, though naturally we’ll need to try the full production version before going firmly on the record.

Should I buy one?

That’s the big question. Many potential punters will find it hard to choose a newcomer, however good, over the well-established excellence of Porsche.

But the Artega GT is good enough to justify serious consideration against a Cayman – it will be far more exclusive and we reckon it’s better-looking too.

The GT will have to battle to earn its place in this tough market, but from what we’ve seen so far it certainly deserves to succeed.

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Paul J 25 July 2008

Re: Artega GT

Sorry about the double contribution - brain fade. However, if something's worth saying it's worth repeating.

Paul J 25 July 2008

Re: Artega GT

This is going to monster the Lotus Evora, which is too lardy and has +2 too many seats. (Which will never be used by children). Is it known whether a 3 pedal version of the Artega will be produced as the one I've seen had the dreaded paddles? If it gets this it will probably get the nod when I replace my Cayman S. I read that it has an aluminium chassis and a carbon fibre body, but what it is really made of is the nails in the Evora's coffin. I say this as someone who has had four Lotuses in the past and can still remember crying as a kid when Jim Clark died.

Paul J 25 July 2008

Re: Artega GT

The Artega looks awesome in most shots I've seen and will be under consideration when I come to replace my Cayman S. (If they are doing a three pedal version, that is). Whatever Mike Kimberly says this is what the new mid-range Lotus should have been and if it had been I would have had a deposit down now. The Evora is as lardy as my Porsche and the +2 seating is an expensively developed joke that will never be used to stash under 10's in. The 720kg Elise I bought in 1997 seems so far away now. Lotus have taken their eye off the ball here, so well done Artega.