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Artega GT (2008) review

Published:09 September 2008

Artega GT (2008) review
  • At a glance
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By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

The new Artega GT is a Porsche Cayman S rival at 911 money from a brand new German manufacturer. Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps not, because the chief advisor to the project is Karlheinz Kalbfell, an ex-BMW man who helped launch Mini and Rolls-Royce under German ownership, before moving onto Alfa and Maserati. And the VW Group supplies the engine and transmission – the last car luckily enough to get such a privilege was the KTM X-Bow, and that turned out to be rather good. Has VW backed another winner?

Artega GT: the stats and details

In Germany the 296bhp Artega starts at just under €75k (c.£60k), €15k (£12k) more than the a 295bhp Cayman S. But once you cast your eyes over the spec sheet it’s not too bad – the GT comes with bi-xenon headlights, proper bucket seats, sat-nav, 19-inch wheels and a twin-clutch gearbox.

Spec a Cayman S to that level and the Artega is only ten percent more expensive, and it might just summon up more emotion than the comparatively common Porsche.

And under the bonnet?


The 3.6-litre V6 engine is lifted from the VW Passat CC, but rather than mounted in the front of family saloon, it’s slung in the middle of the Artega’s aluminium spaceframe. Weight is kept down to 1100kg – a Cayman S piles on 250kg more. 

 

Our lime green test car looks stunning. It might be a shorter than a Ford Focus, but it’s nearly as wide and as low as a Lamborghini Gallardo. Add in the labels that the fashonista love – Brembo, Michelin, Eibach, Bilstein – and you’ve got pretty decent ingredients for a sports car.  

Click 'Next' below to read our driving impressions of the Artega GT

For our full drive of the new Artega GT, buy the latest October 2008 issue of CAR Magazine. Click here for a digital preview

Is the Artega GT a true sports car inside?

While the exterior dimensions might hint at a cramped cabin, the interior is a packaging miracle and the otherwise-comfortable Cayman feels cramped in comparison. The bare interior is the reason why. It’s not stripped-out by any means – there is leather and Alcantara aplenty – but there’s no jutting dashboard or intrusive transmission tunnel getting in the way.

The cabin is no-frills but it’s by no means meagre, and we rather like the Artega's Aston-esque black crystal key.

A curved roof adds headroom while the bucket seats are comfortable and supportive. Behind them is 225 litres of luggage space, while the bonnet has room for another 75 litres of clobber. The fuel tank is a reasonable, but hardly long-distance, 68 litres.

How does the Artega GT drive?

With 296bhp and 269lb ft, the GT will put in consistent sub-5.0 second runs to 62mph, helped by that instant-hit DSG ‘box, while the top speed is quoted at over 170mph. If you want more involvement, the manual gearbox from a front-wheel drive Audi TT, matched to the shorter final drive ratio from the Quattro version, is available.

Compared with a Cayman S, the Artega is quicker, its responses are more immediate and the GT tag is definitely misplaced – this is one genuine sports car. The chassis is both compliant and confidence inspiring – your friend, not your enemey. The steering is light, it’s quick and turn-in is scalpel-sharp. That suspension is firm, but not harsh, with just the right level of communication without being too chatty.

Like a 911 the Artega does not call for constant correction. Instead it can sort itself out, as long as you are willing to let it run on a slightly longer than usual leash. Paragon, the company behind Artega, has also done an amazing job of getting the throttle, engine and gearbox to work together on the same page. It's remarkably slick.

Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Artega GT

For our full drive of the new Artega GT, buy the latest October 2008 issue of CAR Magazine. Click here for a digital preview

Any problems with the Artega GT?

Our pre-production test car wasn’t perfect – despite a stiff chassis it didn’t have the silent solidity of Stuttgart’s little alligator. And our car’s electronics were also out, with the main multi-function display blank and the Dynamics Set-Up (ABS, ESP, TC) asleep because the system is still undergoing final calibration tests at Bosch.

‘Unfortunately, the definitive software is not yet in place,’ apologises Karlheinz Kalbfell, ‘but I can assure you that the hardware is spot-on. Chassis, steering and drivetrain have all been approved for production.’

You know what? We rather agree with him...

Verdict

The Artega GT offers up stunning Porsche-aping looks, a reliable VW drivetrain and remarkable packaging. Add in the fact that to drive it’s even more of a sports car than Porsche’s Cayman, and Artega has a winning combination. Whether badge snobs can see past this, or if Artega can keep up with the demands remains to be seen.

Would you take an Artega GT over a Cayman, let alone a 911? Click ‘Add your comment below’ and have your say

Click here to read news of what Artega plans next

Specs

Price when new: £60,000
On sale in the UK: Mid-2009
Engine: 3597cc 24v V6, 296bhp @ 6600rpm, 258lb ft @ 2400rpm
Transmission: Six-speed paddleshift semi-automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: Sub-5.0sec 0-62mph, 170+mph
Weight / material: 1100kg/aluminium, steel and carbon
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4010/1880/1180

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  • Artega GT (2008) CAR review
  • Artega GT (2008) CAR review

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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