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.