First Look: Hispano Suiza

Frank Markus
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Hispano Suiza

Switzerland's latest limited-volume production car made its world debut in Geneva (where else?), reviving a storied name that once adorned some of the world's most expensive cars. Striving not to break that tradition, the new car lists for 700,000 Euro ($949,300 by today's exchange rate). At first glance, that seems excessive, considering that it is largely based on the Audi R8 5.2, which tops out at 163,210 Euro ($221,300) in Germany.

But the company points out that while they start with an Audi R8 5.2, they completely disassemble it, stretch the front of the spaceframe, fit a completely new interior (it does incorporate door pull handles, the Bang & Olufsen stereo, vents, and more) and replace every body panel. The long, low, angular design may look better in person than it does in pictures (some staffers were reviled by the photos). It will certainly turn heads. The design is that of Erwin Leo Himmel (Audi 1982-1994, VW Group Design Centre Europe 1995-1999, Fuore 2000-2007), and it is rendered entirely in carbon fiber.

The suspension is all uniquely Hispano Suiza and the center-lock 22-inch wheels are forged of an aluminum-titanium alloy and shod in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, sized 275/25 in front, 295/25 in back. Customers can choose a six-speed manual or auto-clutch manual. Supplying the power to all four corners is a 5.2-liter V-10 modified by Motoren Technik Mayer (MTM), and fitted with twin electric superchargers that, along with other modifications, boost output to 739 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That's enough to launch the car to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds and onward to a top speed of 211 mph.

Orders are being taken now for delivery in six months, and plans are already underway for a hybrid variant with a 150-horse electric motor driving the front wheels, providing a total horsepower of 889 and short-range electric-only propulsion for city centers. There is also a convertible variant in the works, expected to go on sale next year. The company hopes to build 25-50 cars per year, but are there that many filthy rich, historically astute car-lovers out there to buy them?

mo_pho
Ugh, my eyes!739hp or not, you couldn't pay me to take this monstrosity over an R8.

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