New British car brand Eterniti Motors is steaming ahead with its plan to launch the Hemera - a new Cayenne-based SUV due in 2012 - and there are two other projects waiting in the wings, including a dramatic sports car.
The first project for the London-based company is taking Porsche's Cayenne Turbo S and reconfiguring it with exotic new materials, a fresh wardrobe and a stretched cabin to free up more cabin space.
Eterniti has also issued sketches of this supercar, but won't reveal yet the donor vehicle. The company's business plan is to take existing top-end cars and modify them for top-end, and mostly Asian, customers.
Just remind me who Eterniti is? And why it's trying to improve the Cayenne!
Funded by investors unnamed by the company, Eterniti is being masterminded by a small group of engineers, racers and marketing experts from the British car industry who spy an opportunity to launch a top-end luxury SUV more quickly than Jaguar, Maserati or Bentley.
Chief engineer is Alastair Macqueen, the technical nous behind the Jaguar XJ220 and a three-time Le Mans winner for Jaguar and Bentley. Racers Johnny Herbert (F1) and Tim Sugden (Touring Cars, GT racing, Le Mans) are also involved in the road-car programme, and are providing feedback on how the car rides and drives.
Herbert and Sugden will both race in a yet-to-be-disclosed Eterniti-branded GT race series, most probably in the Far East near Eterniti's likely main markets. The company is searching for partners and a series in which to promote itself.
Eterniti Hemera: the lowdown
Eterniti Motors plans to take existing luxury and sporting models and give them a bespoke makeover to appeal to predominantly Asian markets, although the cars will be offered in other countries worldwide.
The first model is the Hemera, pictured. It's essentially a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S given a major retrimming - and a £150,000 price tag. The roof and all the supporting pillars are kept, but everything below the waistline is new, with some panels concocted from lightweight carbonfibre supplied by external partners.
The car has been lightly redesigned since its 2011 Frankfurt motor show world debut, especially at the front end. Only the 4.8-litre Turbo S will be offered in the first 12 months; it's decatted and remapped to produce 600bhp.
Being aimed at the Chinese chauffeur market, Eterniti has repackaged the interior by moving the rear seat back and up - squashing boot space but freeing up 120mm extra legroom. 'We figure the sort of people buying our car won't have very big dogs,' jokes McQueen.
How will the British Cayenne drive?
Eterniiti says it is tuning the dampers, ride height and tyres at their Park Royal, London workshops near the Ace Cafe, to give a more comfortable GT-style drive. 'It's like an SUV version of the BMW M5,' claims Macqueen.
The company currently employs 12 staff and plans to build 80 cars in its first year, 150 cars in year two and around 200 cars in the third and subsequent years. It is establishing a sales network in China, Hong Kong and the UK.
We'll see the finished Eterniti Hemera at the 2012 Beijing auto show in April, when it is likely to sport a different name for production.
And the next Eternitis?
In addition to the Hemera and a supercar, Eterniti plans a third model, likely to be another SUV. However, they know they have enough on their hands just to establish the brand and its first model, so no more news is forthcoming yet.