What They Didn’t Tell You On Top Gear

What They Didn’t Tell You On Top Gear

Some stuff got lost in amongst all the hoo-hah about feckless, sleeping Mexicans on Top Gear a week ago; they didn’t actually mention the car they were supposed to be talking about.

I’m not going to get into whether I think the schtick was funny. We’ve all had extended stupid rants about stuff. Mine are usually about the piece of shit laptop I’m writing this blog post on and they are much, much more sweary and offensive than what Hammond was saying. I suppose the difference is that my audience extends no further than a couple of cats, my wife, step-son and occasionally the neighbours if I’m especially loud.

(Bonny and Asha, if you’re reading this, sorry for this afternoon’s sweary interlude.)

More orange than an Apprentice Boys' Parade

Anyway, here is the car they forgot to mention when they were having a pop at the Mexicans. It’s called the Mastretta MXT and it looks to me a little like an Exige designed by a talented sixth-form class. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0 litre Ford Duratec engine sitting across the middle of an aluminium and carbon fibre chassis, driving the rear wheels through a five speed gearbox. Mastretta says that it produces 250 bhp and 250 lb ft of torque. They also say that it’ll do the zoomy thing from 0-62mph in a smidge under 5 seconds and that’s quite zoomy. In fact, it doesn’t sound like anything you’ll find sleeping under a blanket with a hole cut in it for a neck.

It weighs about the same as a Lotus Exige S. Its claimed perfomance is slightly worse but only by a couple of tenths. I’m not sure that most people would notice the difference in absolute terms between 4.7s and 4.9s even if they could actually manage to get close to those figures in the first place. If you’re paying for your own clutches and tyres, the chances are that you’re not going to be  trying to match them anyway.

The MXT was first shown as a prototype at the London Motor Show in 2008 where owing to my extreme dislike of motor shows, I didn’t see it. It was launched at Paris last year. Again owing to my dislike of motor shows compounded with my antipathy towards Parisians, I didn’t see it. I would have quite liked seeing it on Top Gear last week, but there you go. Can’t have everything.

One other thing you can’t have is a test drive unless you live in Mexico. You can have it in right hand drive, though. They will build 150 MXTs in 2011. Its quoted price was thirty-odd thousand pounds when the prototype was shown in London in 2008 which would be quite a lot for slightly slower, slightly uglier Exige. I’ll be waiting for news about how it drives later in the spring. I hope it will be fun and not soporific.

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