2008 Artega GT

Matt Howell

True or false?

We're about to put the vehicle bearing chassis number 00/99 to the real test. This is the pilot car for the limited-edition pre-series, which features yellow paint, polished nineteen-inch aluminum wheels, tasteful leather and Alcantara trim, and full Paragon instrumentation. The GT looks small and uncomfortable from the outside, but its cabin is something of a packaging miracle - the Cayman feels cramped by comparison. The simple yet efficient dashboard architecture does the trick. There's no protruding center console, no towering transmission tunnel, no high-fashion influences. Instead, the no-frills cockpit looks more like Paragon chief Klaus Dieter Frers's own Porsche 904/6 than like a run-of-the-mill Cayman. As a result, the Artega GT provides almost as much legroom as a go-kart. Thanks to the curved roof, headroom is not an issue, either, and the bucket seats trimmed in perforated suede are both comfortable and supportive. Behind them, there's enough storage space for eight cubic feet of luggage. Beneath the front trunk lid, we find a 2.6-cubic-foot receptacle as well as an eighteen-gallon fuel tank.

Paragon is a big player in the field of cockpit systems, navigation, telematics, and in-car phones. As a result, we expected trick instruments, in-dash wizardries, and sensational ergonomics, but the test car had none of that. The GT was, in fact, kind of an electronic anticlimax on wheels. The main multifunction display was out of order, the combined speedo/rev counter was hard to read and partly concealed by the steering wheel, and the secondary digital instruments also were inoperable. Even the controls that did work weren't particularly convincing. Chips gone AWOL also kept the air-conditioning from performing properly, and the driving dynamics system (ABS, stability and traction control) had been put to sleep altogether because it was still undergoing final calibration tests at Bosch.

When you step out of a Cayman S and go straight into the Artega GT, two things are obvious. The Artega feels quicker, with more imminent responses, and its character reveals itself to be more like that of a sports car than a gran turismo. That's the good news. The bad news may have a lot to do with the pre-preproduction status of our test vehicle, which was unable to match the silent solidity of the Porsche. The Artega's body may be stiffer than that of the Cayman, but the multifaceted integration of the moving parts is quite obviously still an ongoing process. You can hear development glitches in the front suspension, and you can feel them through the steering. But the Artega has potential for greatness. Like a Ferrari F430, the GT's chassis already boasts that confidence-inspiring, built-in compliance that makes the car your friend, not your enemy.

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