Thursday, October 21, 2010

The ASTERIO Roadster Part2

If you are looking for the Asterio Roadster website, try this link.

Hi everyone.
Just came back from Autodromo do Estoril for the first ASTERIO Roadster presentation
I'll follow my report as I would like to read-it.
1- The company
Asterio automotive S.A. will  provide engineering and consulting services as a company in the automotive industry. It also has a brand called the Asterio Roadster. This will produce a small volume  production roadster car (1000 units/year max). The team behind all this is composed by a Portuguese entrepreneur and automotive fan Ricardo Baeta, two british engineers (Mike Rawlings with over 40 year of automotive industry experience in projects of lot's of sports and gt cars, another with over 20 years experience in building formula 1 and indy chassis), a designer, a production manager and a marketing director.
My initial thoughts:
The Lotus business approach and with British engineering with lotus and F1 experience... this might just be the BEST Portuguese project so far.

2 -The concept
A lightweight Sports chassis with a racing-to-road development approach.
The chassis design will allow several motorization options. This is very important to my point of view. It might just enable the company to produce a REAL project with some COSMETIC engines that the market buys.
My thoughts:
Nice... Racing first... than de-tuning to road homologation is THE way to build a sports car. Sounds good.
The modular chassis design does mean a lot... and even with a bad engine, you can always swap it. The lotus Elise was an excellent car... but a small K20A swap will make it a God, this could just be the case.

3-The chassis



My thoughts:
It's a semi-monocoque chassis built in steel-aluminum... sounds good.
The semi part uses a conventional double wishbone design, the front suspension has a push-rod type suspension and unfortunately the rear one can't because of the engine... but the front is the most important part on this equation. The Aluminum monocoque structure is F1 style built in aluminum extruded panels, rebited and glued with an honeycomb type sandwich. It's light and the design is very very F1ish and modular enough to change for instance.. the engine. Smart, logical.. GOOD! I'm all for this design an after talking to the engineer responsible for it, I'm extremely happy with the aims and targets he had before starting to sketch it.
The weight distribution is around 65% rear biased, but don't get fooled. This is an MR platform... not a 911 like RR. Being light... and taking the example of the engine seen in this demonstration (a 2.2 TD pulling 225bhp on a 500nm torque curve), reeving the engine and dumping the clutch will produce little over a 3 second time from not to 100km/h, instead of massive wheel spin (the V6 option will do 3seconds). The credit were goes entirely to the chassis... not the engine (evidently, being diesel....it's not the best point on the car). During that clutch dumping the car will squat and just go, as the suspension compresses and forces more grip into the rear wheels, the lightness of this package will make it JUST go before you break grip.

4 - The engine.
Asterio plans to introduce 4 engine packages to go along with this chassis (having minor mods like wheel size, brake size and suspension settings):
1 - Electron - fully electric package with 120Bhp 440nm 990Kg
2 - Tork 500 - 2.2 Turbo Diesel with 225Bhp 500nm 790Kg
3 - Tork 700 - V6 BiTurboDiesel with 350Bhp 700nm 890Kg
4 - V8 Edição Especial F1 Revival - 400Bhp 320nm 750Kg 11000rpm competition sourced V8

My thoughts:
1 - don't quite believe in it. Even after talking with the 2 British Engineers, and believe-me, it will have some UNIQUE features ... it's not my idea of how a sports car should be and how the future GREEN car should be too... But I will get back to this in a new post after mailing my opinion back to Ricardo Baeta.
2 - Diesel is not for the track. This was a disappointment for me as a pure sports car lover.
3 - Diesel is not for the track and a V6 Diesel is for the family saloon.
4 - NOW YOU'RE TALKING... and this makes the entire project make sense. This must have been the initial idea... and the rest it just cosmetics for the public's blinded view of how a car really is... Don't miss understand-me, In this green madness we live these days, every manufacturer is a rookie, so if you want to enter a competitive, mature market without no history to back your image up... you have to catch a new trend.. .This is by far the most important part on the justifications of the first 3 engine options. Still and very honestly, I wouldn't wan't them, and would immediately make the swap for a Honda engine. I don't like most V engines... but producing 400bhp from 3.5 liters makes well over my 100bhp/liter minimum requirement.
It's very clear to me that Asterio is making a MARKET move with diesel engines. For a non-expert-but-sports-car-lover, the torque of the diesel will seem immense; the international market will think ?! WTF?! but pulling 3s times from 0-100km/h will give-it a try; and the stupidly dieseled Portuguese market will think yummy!
Of course that I seriously doubt they will enter races with engines that have power surges lasting for no longer than 1500rpm... and the V8 will rule championships as it should.

5 - The design
Some pictures:






My thoughts:
I like it... but the front looks like a morph between the (now dead) s2000 replacement and an audi R8... and the rear is the result of a Lamborghini rapped by the very same R8 that rapped the s2000 for the front. But I like it!
And, again, if makes perfect sense. The Audi brand is very successful with it's design trend... why not follow the same trend? Especially if you are entering a competitive market and can't afford to loose a great chassis because of some body panels showing just how independent your design styling is.

Overall: GOOD JOB and congrats... but loose that diesel stuff and make it a petrol screamer PLEASE (4pot Honda sourced and revving over 10.000rpm preferably)!