What is the opposite of onomatopoeia? Certainly not a misnomer or an oxymoron: they’re contradictions in names and terms. The opposite of onomatopoeia is a contradiction in sounds, and until now it wasn’t something I could easily define. But having your head a few inches from the fizz-chattering wastegates on a 641bhp V8 and yanking through another gear with the sequential ’box’s huge lever, only to discover that the rapidly accelerative rocket sled you’re trying to keep on the road is called Gumpert, has changed all that. What might just be the most exciting vehicle to ever wear number plates appears to have the wrong name.
Appearances can be deceptive. Not the styling of the Apollo, which I’m sure you’ll agree is right up there in the pantheon of terrifying sights to be seen through the wing mirrors of a Porsche Carrera GT. It might not zing off the tongue like an Italian, but the name Gumpert has credibility where it counts: motorsport. Roland Gumpert ran Audi’s world rally team in the early ’80s. Under him they won the championship and 25 rallies. He has form, then.
He also clearly has a decent relationship with Audi, because that 641bhp is produced by a heavily modified version of the previous-generation S8’s 4163cc V8. The engine has 40 valves (handy when you’re fuelling something producing 154bhp per litre), uprated rods, pistons and just about every other ancillary to cope with the added energy created by the addition of two enormous KKK turbochargers.
But here’s the amazing bit: it uses the same crank. Despite producing 281bhp more than intended, the main reciprocating component of this engine is up to the task. Peak power comes at 6800rpm and the full 597lb ft of torque at 5000rpm. Silly numbers all of them, but now consider that pre-production cars weigh 1200kg and do the mathematics. It gives a power-to-weight ratio of 534bhp per tonne. A Ferrari Enzo has 476bhp per tonne, a Porsche Carrera GT 410 and the daddy of them all, the McLaren F1, had 551bhp per tonne at its disposal. But that’s a little unrealistic, because the Apollo will weigh nearer 1100kg in production spec, turning 534 into 583bhp per tonne. As Herr Gumpert explains this in his slow, deliberate English I’m all ears, but matters become serene when he says the engine could easily run to 800bhp and that 1000PS, or 986bhp, was a definite possibility.
This is a racing car for the road. There are accurate sketches of how the finished interior will look, but peeking in through the gullwing door you’d have to say that, for the intended market, it might be a shame to alter what it already has. Two bucket seats perched in a carbon tub, which is itself tied into a tubular steel lattice. Being German and very much a motorsport product, the quality is top-notch, even on this early car.
You sit low with the pedal box off-centre (already sorted for the next running car) and a fair amount of intrusion from the wheelarch. The steering wheel is a dinky little Momo item and a Motec digital dash sits behind it. To the right there is the most gorgeous centre console of any supercar: a lump of carbonfibre with row upon row of fuses. People who pay the expected £190,000 for this car will be doing so because of its track focus, and I suspect that many of the interior’s rough edges in this early example might actually be of great appeal. It is currently an office space devised for the business of going very fast. And I like that.