Looks weird, but contains the seeds of a talented flyweight

What is it?

The Jetstream 250 is the first product of Cornwall-based manufacturer Jetstream. It is a 700kg rear-wheel drive mid-engined sports car, and it is not pretty. But it is intriguing.

John Donnelly, the man who created the company, used to work for the Brabham and McLaren Formula One teams. The man who used to tune suspension for one Mr M Schumacher set up the double-wishbone suspension. And the engine comes straight from the Vauxhall Astra VXR.

What’s it like?

The Jetstream has engineering pedigree and plenty of poke, but a first glance into the engine bay doesn't inspire confidence that it will actually deliver the dynamic thrills promised by the lightweight construction.

The transverse-mounted 2.0-litre engine sits high and is located almost over the rear axle, while the 33:67 front:rear weight distribution is worrying, until you realise that's more or less an identical figure to the Elise, the car that Jetstream benchmarked for ride and handling.

Climb aboard and you’ll begin to forget the odd looks. The interior is simple, with clean lines and a spot-on driving position. This early car is also amazingly well screwed together. It feels at least as solid as an Ariel Atom.

The good work continues on the road. There’s traction and grip in abundance and the weighty steering - which initially feels leaden - comes alive when you press on, writhing in your hands without kicking back and allowing you to place the car accurately on the road. The suspension flows with twists and undulations nicely, too.

But the Jetstream doesn’t feel as rapid as you'd expect from a turbocharged lightweight. The motor delivers plenty of torque, while whoosh and twitter from the turbo and wastegate provide amusement, but the blown Vauxhall motor isn’t the most tractable motor.

Should I buy one?

The Jetstream's big problem is its rivals. For the same money you could have the tried-and-tested Caterham R400, or the insane supercharged Ariel Atom. But although the Jetstream is a funny-looking thing, it shows plenty of promise. Don't forget that Noble's first creation, the M10, was an ugly duckling too - and look what that turned into.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate

Add a comment…
julianphillips 24 August 2008

Re: Jetstream SC250

There aren't any dogs in the street, just your mum.

julianphillips 23 August 2008

Re: Jetstream SC250

It's the only way I can satisfy your mum.

julianphillips 22 August 2008

Re: Jetstream SC250

I'm bigheaded and always like to think that I know more than anyone, anywhere about cars. Even more than Nom de Plum, James Read and JJBoxster. However, I'm completely stumped and can't remember the Midtech. What is/was it?