What is it?
This is the Elfin T5 roadster, a two-seat, light(ish) roadster. It’s Australia’s answer to the Caterham 7, Ariel Atom and Lotus 2-Eleven.
Don’t confuse the Elfin T5 with other Elfin models, the V8-powered MS8 Clubman and Streamliner. Elfin thought about bringing these to the UK a couple of years ago, when Walkinshaw Performance (which also owns Holden Special Vehicles) first took ownership of Elfin.
The other models remain on sale in Australia, but the Elfin T5 is meant to toe the British roadster line more closely; Elfin even hopes the T5 will find more sales in Britain than it finds in Australia.
In mechanical layout, certainly, the Elfin T5 is a lot like a traditional British roadster. Its chassis is a tubular steel spaceframe, the body is glass fibre, suspension is by double wishbones front and rear and the T5 is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine (albeit turbocharged). It’s an Ecotec unit taken from the Pontiac Solstice/Opel GT, makes 260bhp and drives the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.
Unusually for this kind of car, however, the Elfin T5 has a steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake and Elfin even claims that a bulky six-footer can get in and out with the hood up (and get comfortable inside).
There’s even hydraulic power steering. As well as meeting the trad roadster criteria, the Elfin T5 is intended to be a car that can be used pretty much daily.
What’s it like?
At 3409mm the Elfin T5 is around 300mm longer than a Caterham 7 and, at 1794mm, around 210mm wider and most of the extra dimensions are evident in the cabin, which is considerably roomier than a Caterham 7’s; there’s a even clutch foot rest. Fit and finish could be improved, but ours was a pre-production car – the interior’s quite pleasingly designed, but with more interior trim comes the obligation to screw it together adeptly.
It’s quick enough too. The Elfin T5 weighs around 750kg, depending on spec, which is heavy for a car of this type, but not in the overall scheme of things: around 345bhp per tonne is enough by most people’s standards.