There’s nothing unusual about the arrival of a new sports car. New makers of small sports cars arrive all the time. Some of them memorable, others are not. I won't drag this out: the Elemental RP1 is a little bit special.
In its technical make-up the RP1 is similar to, but not exactly like, several other lightweight roadsters. The tub is a carbonfibre one – of the good sort, not the cheaper sort, but I’ll come back to that – with steel subframes hung from either end.
The front subframe supports the cooling systems and front suspension, which comprises double wishbones and inboard spring and damper units. Behind the two-seat cabin sits the rear suspension – double wishbones but not inboard dampers - and the powertrain.
This is one of two key areas where Elemental is a touch unusual. Instead of a transverse engine and the gearbox it would get on a road car – as you’d find in an Ariel Atom, KTM X-Bow or Zenos E10 – the Elemental’s engine, a 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost unit, is mounted longitudinally and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed Hewland gearbox that’s mounted behind it. Which all means that the engine can be set lower in the chassis. The BAC Mono is similar, although it is only a single-seater.
Where the Elemental differs again from the light car norm is in the amount of underbody aerodynamics it offers. There’s a long diffuser at the front of the car and another one at the rear, and the claim is that at 100mph the RP1 will generate 200kg of downforce.