What is it?
A new era for one of Britain’s best-loved sports car manufacturers. This is the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo – a new model that will take the marque to mainland Europe for the first time as well as reviving the model line-up in the UK.
Built to European small car type-approval standards, the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo conforms to much the same regulations (with the exception of pedestrian, frontal and side impact safety rules) as any mainstream small car that is sold in Europe, making it easy to sell and register abroad.
Thanks to the flyweight 650kg wet kerb weight, the Westfield not only makes the 62mph mark in well under five seconds but also gets glowing green credentials. The 192bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine (taken from the Vauxhall Corsa VXR) not only returns more than 40mpg but also emits just 171g/km of CO2.
What’s it like?
Always fun, and occasionally a good alternative to a laxative in the right (or wrong) situation. Yet initial impressions are not of the hysterical thrust you get from the turbo, nor of the deafening induction noise under load. In fact, the most striking difference on an initial drive up the road is how much more comfortable the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo is.
Independent rear suspension, complete with well-judged spring and damper settings, makes the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo astonishingly supple over ordinary urban roads at low speeds. At higher speeds the softish suspension feels less composed and can result in a disconcerting lifting sensation over longer or more severe troughs and crests in the road surface.
The engine doesn’t disappoint, either. Thrills are available from a slight prod of the throttle and it’s not difficult to adjust to having a turbocharged power delivery in such a lightweight car. But you will need to adjust. The linear delivery of a naturally aspirated motor is far removed from the sudden surge of a turbocharged unit, though you quickly learn to judge when the main swell of torque is going to kick in.
There is also an overboost facility that increases torque from 170lb ft to 192lb ft for five seconds, which is equally predictable after a short while in the car. Sharper throttle action and more consistent response to the otherwise joyfully communicative non power-assisted steering (both things Westfield is working on for the final production cars) would make the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo an even more complete driver’s tool than it already is.
The finishing touch to the Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo is its interior. It’s simply a massive step forward in terms of usability and quality of finish. Oil, water and temperature gauges will be standard additions on the final production cars.
Should I buy one?
The French already are, with a number of early orders showing promise for sales on the continent. In Blighty, if you’re in the market for a £25k track tool, or even a fun weekend sports car, you shouldn’t buy without trying this option. The Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo does not have the same level of finesse or flexibility that you’ll get from a Caterham Roadsport or CSR, but the blunter (and cheaper) hilarity of the Westfield is a thrill all of its own.