Making a car was beautiful, fast, and technologically advanced as a Ferrari or Lamborghini seems like a tall order, but that does not stop small upstarts from trying. The latest company to try its hand at a supercar is Vencer, a Dutch firm with a V8-powered wedge called the Sarthe.
The Sarthe is named after the French region where the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is held. Le Mans references can also be found in the car’s styling, which Vencer says is inspired by cars that raced at Le Mans in the 1980s. Vencer may need to hire a new designer, because the result looks a bit too much like the McLaren MP4-12C.
Generic styling won’t completely sink this effort, since supercars are supposed to be all about performance. The Sarthe has a mid-mounted V8, which makes 510 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. The engine is connected to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transaxle; no computerized sequential transmissions here.
That powertrain, combined with the Sarthe’s 3,042 curb weight, should accelerate the Dutch machine from 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) in 3.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of roughly 200 mph. To put that in perspective, the McLaren weighs 3,210 lbs, but can do 0-62 in 3.2 seconds thanks to its 592 hp. A Ferrari 458 Italia is just as quick.
Vencer says the Sarthe has a 45% front, 55% rear weight distribution. That is slightly closer to the ideal 50/50 than the McLaren’s 42/58 and the Ferrari’s 43/57. Having weight evenly balanced between the front and rear axles improves handling.
On paper, the Sarthe looks like it can hang with the pack, but why would someone choose one over a car from one of the established marques? It will not leave its British and Italian rivals in the dust, but the Sarthe may offer its driver a more involved experience. Unlike the McLaren and Ferrari, the only electronic aid the Vencer offers is ABS. That, and the aforementioned manual gearbox, might attract drivers looking for a purer feel, free of electronic interference.
Selling old school mechanical feel is also a convenient way for a small company like Vencer, which may not have the money to develop driver aids like traction and stability control.
How the Sarthe drives and how it stacks up against competitors is purely academic, for now. It is still under development; a prototype hasn’t even been built. That may seem a bit dubious, but Vencer is not the only small company trying to take on Ferrari. A few years ago another Dutch company, Spyker, placed an Audi V8 in a Steampunk-esque body to create the C8. Spyker owned Swedish carmaker Saab until the latter went bankrupt last December. In Slovenia, Tushek is challenging Lamborghini with its Forego T700. After all, why should countries like Italy have a monopoly on supercars? The more, the better.