Went to the launch of Keating and its “new British supercar” in Southport last week and came away disappointed, but not surprised, by what I saw.
Fledgling Keating decided that no journalists would actually drive its SKR. But from this evidence, it seems to be another under-engineered British sports car with a big American V8, no heritage and an optimistic asking price.
The Merseyside likely lads behind Keating want £90,000-125,000 for the SKR. But that cost is “arbitrary” I was told, so it might be more, depending on ‘what the customer wants’.
So far Keating has built just one, and it’s a machine whose build quality is akin to a hobbyist’s kit car, not a £100 grand supercar. Despite the Ford Sierra switchgear, the interior’s not nearly finished, which makes me wonder if the Keating dream has run out of money and now needs customers, who’ll essentially pay to complete the car’s development. Which would explain the ‘arbitrary’ price.
As things stand, the SKR would tempt only the clinically insane away from an Aston Martin, an Audi R8 or a Porsche 911 Turbo.
But Keating’s press briefing had a good go at convincing us anyway, littered as it was with grandiose performance and reliability claims, which I’m afraid were met with scepticism. One of Keating’s men then got up and said: “Proud British companies are now owned by Germans, Americans or Indians, taking the best of British and using it for their benefit. We’re bringing back the best of British.”
That’s an interesting point of view when you consider that the SKR’s 400bhp V8 comes from Chevrolet of America and that its body shell is made in the Philippines. In the end, we took a passenger ride in the SKR alongside an affable Scouse test driver whose sole qualification for hooning the car along a runway seemed to be that he was pretty handy on the Southport ring road.
It was quick, but not mind-blowing. The dials didn’t work so I can’t tell you how fast we went. But the springs are ridiculously soft - mid-corner bumps would be an unsettling issue. And then, after a few runs up and down the runway, the gearbox went pop and started to spew its oil over the back wheels. So it was game over.
I dread to think how much money has been invested in Keating. In fairness, just building the car is further than most wannabe supercar makers ever get.
If Keating builds a finished, working, marketable car, we’ll be more than happy to test it with an open mind. Who wouldn’t want to see the North West’s new TVR or the next Noble? For now though, Keating’s SKR is some way from getting there.