Top Gear hasn’t exactly had an easy relationship with Mexico recently, but that could be about to change. Because the Vuhl 05 (pronounced ‘vool’ and…er, ‘oh five’) is a brand new road car being built in Central America by the Echeverria brothers, and on paper it looks promising.
Designed to take on cars like the Ariel Atom and BAC Mono, it’s a lightweight special, with a bare-bones design, minimalist seats, no windscreen and even a racing-style kill switch.
As ever with this sort of car, performance shouldn’t be a problem. There’s a mid-mounted 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost engine, with 285bhp and 310lb ft. Because of the featherweight aluminium monocoque chassis, the power to weight ratio is an impressive 400bhp per tonne. So the Vuhl will do 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 152mph. Not quite Ariel Atom territory, but not far off.
To be fair, Vuhl isn’t chasing the last tenth. The Mexicans are as concerned with character as they are with out-and-out pace. One of the brothers behind the project, Iker Echeverria, told us that “we looked at an Audi engine, but it was too heavy and it didn’t sound good. That’s why we wanted the Ford, because it sounds like the old Cosworths from the 1970s.”
Seems he’s aiming for the same thing when it comes to handling. “We want it to be like an Elise. Everyone should be able to go fast and enjoy it” - meaning this is a car designed for mortals as well as racers. Vuhl won’t divulge where all the handling has been fine-tuned, but it’s in the UK so that bodes well.
The attention to detail is impressive. Things like the HD camera mounted into the bulkhead between the seats - all you’ve got to do is press the record button on the dash, and you’ve got a perfect video of when you spin on your out lap. Simply plug in a USB stick afterwards to download the embarrassment.
Or the notch on the key that will both undo and hold onto the fuel filler cap, so you don’t need to touch the dirty bits when you fill up. There’s even a specific slot in the dash for the keyless fob, foiling any potential fumbling-under-seat moments after the first braking zone.
Vuhl hopes to have the first customer cars into the UK for spring 2014. We’re the crucial market for it, but the brothers Echeverria are also talking to representatives in the USA about getting it over there. For the UK, prices will start at about £70,000. Seems a bit steep for a toy, but then it is shipping from Mexico.
Words: Piers Ward