Everything you need to know about the Gumpert Apollo is there from the outset, worn on the sleeve and clearly visible the first time you look at it. Or should that be ‘stare’ at it. Compact, brutish, uncompromising, and fearsomely fast, the Gumpert Apollo looks like an old Group C racer for the road, and it’s probably as quick as one too. But maybe a bit uglier.
So why the silly Gumpert Apollo name?
Roland Gumpert is the engineer who ran Audi motorsport back in the 1980s, when the Quattro was winning all those World Rally Championships. When he retired, he needed a little hobby to keep himself occupied, so he decided to create his own car company, built around a single, extreme product – the Apollo supercar. He used his Audi contacts to good effect – signing up his old mates for everything from the twin turbo 4.2-litre V8, derived from the old RS6 engine, to the Audi windtunnel, where Roland bagged some time for the Apollo’s functional aerodynamics.
It’s German through-and-through then?
Yes, there is something very functional and teutonic about this no-frills supercar, compared to the flair and style of the Italians. It looks like a lump hammer and it’s as crushingly effective as one too.
But with that German frankness also comes a kind of honest purity, and a depth of engineering that puts the Gumpert into a different bracket to most tiny manufacturers with supercar aspirations. Look at the tubular chassis with its carbon safety cell, the pushrod suspension or the bespoke six-speed sequential shift – everything reeks of nerdy attention to detail. In fact, it’s when Gumpert tries to do ‘style’ that it all goes wrong – like the criminally naff griffin emblem, stitched into the seat-backs. Let’s stick to the high-strength chrome-molybdenum steel and double transverse control arm pushrod configuration, eh boys?
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Gumpert Apollo S first drive
And is it as fast as the Stig makes out?
Yes, yes, this extremely rare, relatively unknown supercar has suddenly gained national notoriety, as the current lap record holder on Top Gear TV. And it’s not hard to see why. We drove exactly the same car, the S model with 690bhp, and it is monstrously fast and efficient.
The driving position isn’t cramped exactly, but it is ‘compact’ – the steering wheel is under your chin, forcing you into a purposeful, bent-elbow, DTM-driver stance, and the gearlever stands upright near your right hand (in this left-hand-drive car), just like you’d find in a GT endurance racer. Ahead, the windscreen is incredibly narrow, just a post-box slot between the black dashboard and the black rooflining. It’s intimidating, and when you first release the stiff clutch and judder away, the engine whirring and whining and growling behind you, it’s hard to imagine you’re going to have time to actually enjoy this experience.
But then something magic happens – the Apollo is beautifully sorted, with a light delicacy to the steering. The Gumpert absolutely blasts down a straight like low-flying military jet, and every road is shrunk, every straight is dealt with and dispatched in a fleeting second. But it’s also reassuringly communicative, and very surefooted – the blue car we drove is set up to resolutely follow the front wheels, and it turns in confidently at ridiculously high speeds. You then feed in the power, timing it so the turbos come in just as you get it all straightened up, and car just erupts down the next straight.
Ugly it may be, but I can see the appeal of a Gumpert Apollo – buy one and get comfortable with its hyper performance, and you’ll soon be the daddy of any track day you care to attend, eating Lamborghinis and Ferraris for breakfast.
But then so it should at £275,000. At that price, the Gumpert is almost in Pagani territory, and next to the Zonda the Gumpert looks ugly and a bit crude, it doesn’t sound as good and the interior isn’t as comfortable. In the end, it depends how much lap-times matter to you, and whether you want to be playing on the same team as the Stig.
Would you take a Gumpert Apollo over a Ferrari, Lambo or Zonda? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say