What is it?
A 600kg, British-built sports car built on a spaceframe chassis and powered by a Honda Civic Type-R engine. So stop laughing and pay attention because this Marlin 5exi-R is half the price of an Ariel Atom 300 and yet claimed figures put it within 0.3sec of the popular Atom.
What’s it like?
It’s a surprisingly civilised thing to drive, but Ariel need not worry as the Marlin doesn’t feel anything like as visceral or rapid as an Atom. It is instead a none-too-tardy sports car that offers a usable, fun and responsive experience. Having such a small footprint and so little mass to throw around, plus a complete lack of any driver aids proves that you need nothing more than simple physics to make a great steer for purist drivers.
Turn in is sharp, grip is plentiful and the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre VTEC engine has its usual pros and cons – bonkers at high revs and slightly uninspiring at normal road speeds. Well-judged suspension set-up also allows it to cover B-road asphalt without any severe jarring, with the lack of weight once again paying dividends for comfort and enjoyment.
Should I buy one?
This car is not helped by its looks nor its slightly ludicrous model name, but it’s easy to see why Marlin still gets a slow and steady stream of orders. Even so, such an obviously home-made car requires a certain kind of buyer. If you’re one of them, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy it. If you’re not, Westfield and Caterham await.