Right now, the Frazer-Nash Namir is rather slow for a supercar. It has the promise of 362bhp-worth of power, it has the drama and pedigree of Giugiaro’s ItalDesign in its style, but mechanically it is barely half the car that it will be.
So when I sink its alloy accelerator pedal to the bulkhead, it departs the Goodwood start line with all the ferocity of a sleepy hound looking for a new corner to snore in.
There are two reasons for this. One is that it has only half the complement of electric motors that it will shortly sport, Frazer-Nash installing only a pair in order to ready it for its Goodwood debut. And the other is that your reporter has forgotten to swivel the rotary drive selector to ‘sport’, as instructed, selecting ‘D’ instead. Which means that the Namir merely ambles away from the line, or does in contrast to the internal combustion supercars that it’s mixing with today, and the acceleration that it will soon be able to deliver.
When Fabrizio Giugiaro, who sits beside me, switches the knob to sport the Frazer-Nash bounds forward with a lot more enthusiasm and barely any extra noise, our only aural accompaniment the hum of a power steering motor whose activities will eventually be muted. Now the Namir is brisk, but nowhere near as quick as Frazer-Nash shortly intends, the full set of four motors, and an on-board rotary engine generator, forecast to catapult this orange machine to 62mph in 3.5 near-silent seconds, and onto 187mph. Though these aren’t the Namir’s most impressive statistics, Frazer-Nash reckons that its hugely efficient, radical driveline will produce the equivalent of 100mpg.
The guts of the Namir are radical on a number of fronts, many of them secret, but this Surrey-based engineering company has been quietly beavering for years to produce a driveline that it believes will take hybrids to a new plane. The elimination of the classic mechanical differential is vital to this, the motors individually controlled with software to turn the wheels at the right speeds relative to one another, but at least as fundamental are the management of the cells within the lithium-ion battery, the electronic control systems, the effectiveness of the regenerative braking and the control strategy for the twin rotor Wankel engine, which, like the rest of this car’s mechanicals, has been built entirely in-house by Frazer-Nash.
So on Goodwood’s hill, I enjoy less than half a hint of this car’s ultimate potential, although the Namir’s steering column-hung display screens, beautifully crafted cabin and handy way with corners provides a tantalising glimpse of what is to come. And that will be a fully functioning prototype that you should be able to read about here this autumn.
Beyond that, Frazer-Nash has the task of persuading the famously conservative car industry to buy these powertrains, the Namir a shop window for this potentially spectacular hardware rather than a signal that the company is to begin building supercars. Though if the Namir eventually delivers on it promise – and the omens are good – that would be shame.