F1 driver to give VUHL public debut


Gumpert is not a ‘fast’ word. Neither is Koenigsegg (I struggle just to pronounce that one). As for the INNOTECH Aspiron, that sounds less like a supercar and more like the remedy for a nagging headache – the kind of pain that might be brought on if we thought too long and hard about the daft names chosen by modern manufacturers of such limited-run specials.

Now here’s the latest. It is called VUHL. It’s fast, it’s light and it comes from Mexico. Obviously.

[At this stage I should point out that the official brand includes a straight accent across the top of the ‘U’. But I’ve decided in writing this story to ignore it, firstly because it’s silly – and secondly because I can’t work out which buttons I have to press on my keyboard to make it appear…]

The covers were removed from the VUHL 05 at a ceremony held in London last week and the new car will make its public debut at the forthcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it will be driven on the Sunday by Sauber Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutiérrez. And so we come to the Mexican link.

VUHL, which is indeed pronounced ‘vool’, stands for Vehicles of Ultra High-performance and Lightweight (I know. I told you, it’s daft.) The concept is the creation of brothers Iker and Guillermo Echeverria, whose Mexico City/Detroit-based design agency created this, their very own road-legal track day special. At the RAC Club in Pall Mall the brothers’ proud father Guillermo Echeverria Sr, the inspiration behind the venture and an experienced racer himself, was on hand to witness the big moment.

The 05 is part of a distinctive modern breed that includes the likes of the BAC Mono and KTM X-Bow (I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to train myself not to think ‘ex-bow’ when I read or say that one). As you can see, the VUHL can hardly be described as beautiful, but it’s certainly purposeful – and judging by the spec, it should be more than potent, too.

With a dry weight of just 695kg, the VUHL’s 285hp 2-litre turbocharged Ford EcoBoost engine generates a power-to-weight ratio of 400hp per tonne, with 0-100kph taking just 3.7sec. Power is applied through a six-speed manual gearbox, unequal-length wishbone suspension and high-performance Michelin tyres.

The brothers say this is a car “developed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts”. Finely tuned handling has been the priority from the start, with the three-section bonded tub of aluminium extrusion and honeycomb promising competition levels of torsional rigidity.

So, not as VUHL-ish (sorry) as it sounds? Sure, but we’ll have to ask Gutiérrez on Sunday afternoon to find out more. It won’t go on sale until next year, with a production run planned initially for the UK and North America. Priced at about £55,000, it’ll be less expensive than the latest GT X-Bow, but that puts it firmly out of bounds of all but the most serious track day warriors.

Still, it’ll turn heads at Goodwood. With so much for us to be serious about in 2013, it’s pleasing that there are people out there who are still committed to building nutty cars such as this. For the Echeverrias, this is clearly a serious project. For the rest of us, joyously, it is anything but.

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