Pricey, but well built and suitably thrilling to drive

What is it?

Think of the IFR Aspid Supersport as an ultra-modern Caterham and you’re not far wrong. It shares the Seven’s traditional layout of four-cylinder engine up front driving the rear wheels and a tiny, low-slung open-wheeled body.

But the Aspid is also far more luxurious than any Caterham, with a price that puts it into contention with a very different market.

Underneath it gets an aluminium frame and carbonfibre bodywork, with power coming from a supercharged version of the Honda Civic Type-R’s VTEC-unit. The result is 400bhp driving just 750kg, enough to make a Caterham Superlight R500 look slightly underpowered.

Most surprising is the fact the Aspid is Spanish – well, Catalan – the result of a five-year development project by engineering firm IFR, and intended to act as a showcase to demonstrate some of the firm’s inventions, such as clever double disc brakes.

The Aspid is meant to demonstrate just how much mass can be removed by clever design, a philosophy that extends throughout the car. Even the electric locks for the doors have been designed and built by IFR to be about half the size of a conventional lock.

What’s it like?

Predictably fast. Anything with this power-to-weight ratio is going to be brisk, and the Aspid is a cracker. Honda’s VTEC unit is not known for low-down torque, but the addition of a supercharger means that acceleration to the 9000rpm redline is seemingly endless.

Steering is much more fluid than other hardcore two-seaters, less hair-trigger reactive but it’s plenty quick enough. Driving the Aspid is like piloting some futuristic low-flying miniature jet fighter – the car skims over the road’s surface, and it feels like it hardly needs to touch the Tarmac, such is its speed and agility.

But it’s also surprisingly civilised, with an unexpectedly absorbent and compliant ride that manages to shrug off mundane challenges like speed bumps.

It is also very well put together. Aside from the Alfa air vents, you won’t find any raid-the-parts-bin switchgear in the Aspid’s cabin – it is all bespoke, from the carbonfibre steering wheel to the infotainment screen.

Aspid claims 50mpg fuel economy and predicted CO2 emissions of 120g/km. This seems remarkable even when you consider the car's exceptionally low 700kg kerbweight.

The finish on the carbon is BMW quality and the engineering that has gone into the beautiful alloy door hinges is as good aswell anything you’ll see on a Ferrari. This is a proper car.

Should I buy one?

This is where it gets a bit sticky. The Aspid’s €120,000 pricetag translates to around £100,000, a huge amount for an open-wheeler, even one as individual as this.

For those who can afford it, the Aspid will be a unique and compellingly different plaything, but it would be silly not to note that, if you can do without the toys, you can have a Caterham Superlight for less than half the price.

It is a very good car, made all the more impressive by the quality of the engineering behind it. If you can't afford it, then you can go for a Caterham Superlight for less than half the price and have as much fun.

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Dan Stevens

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Aspidfan 1 November 2008

Re: IFR Aspid Supersport

How about you comment on the ASPID when you know what you talking about, the Aspid is nothing like the CATERHAM. The Engineering that has gone into this car has taken 5 hard years to accomplish, IFR Automotive is very serious about the technology it has developed and has used this car as a platform to demonstrate what it has achieved. I cant wait to see this fine work of art up against some of the world finest sports cars on the race track. Take the time to look at and where you will find out what the Aspid is all about, I did!!!!!

simonali 27 October 2008

Re: IFR Aspid Supersport

TegTypeR wrote:
I can't seem to cut and paste the Aspid engine picture, but aside from the plastic trim, the key visual aspects to tell the engine apart is the location of the oil filler cap and dip stick.

I think another obvious giveaway is the 9K redline. The Civic lump only goes to 8.4K and would maybe need internally uprating to go to 9?

DaveW536 27 October 2008

Re: IFR Aspid Supersport

I cant help but think the back end looks like they have stolen the shitty chrome thing off a vectra or something and it looks awful. 100 000 quid, they can keep it imo. Suppose if you drive it quick enough no one will be able to see how crap it looks XD