I’m not sure what they put in the water in England, but they sure do have a lot of people producing race cars. Add Elemental to the list of trackable toys like the BAC Mono, or the Ariel Atom. While it would be easy to brush them off as just another company building a cool and expensive track toy, there is something you should know, and it’s the fact that the Elemental RP1 packs more downforce than any other production car to date.
881-lbs of downforce. That doesn’t sound like much because, well frankly, it’s not. Until you consider that 881lbs is the difference between the RP1 and its nearest competitor. Oh and it’s worth noting that its nearest competitor is the 1-million dollar McLaren P1. That’s right, this little British car is glued to the tarmac with over 2,200lbs of downforce, a massive gain of 1,322lbs from the standard RP1 thanks to the new Aero package.
So how did such a small company pull off such a huge feat? Short answer, experience. Long answer, their experience comes from either Formula One or other major manufacturers, giving them an edge on the competition. Their experience comes in the form of a couple of aerodynamicists in Formula One, the skill that has given them the ability to build a car that produces massive amounts of downforce while maintaining a low drag coefficient. This is because they were able to achieve the majority of the given downforce with the aerodynamics of the body alone, with only the addition of a rear wing. Typically to reach the same levels the car ends up with wings sprouting out of every end of the vehicle. That’s neither aesthetically please nor is it efficient.
Now downforce isn’t everything. Sure, the more wind you have to plant you onto the ground the better your traction will be, albeit to a degree. There are several variables like weather conditions or even imperfections in the driving surface. Like public roads for instance. Since this is a road going car, Elemental wanted it to perform well in all conditions. To accomplish this they designed a body that performs well at different degrees of speed, virtually eliminating that ‘switch’ like grip you typically get from massive quantities of downforce. They also engineered the chassis to have as much mechanical grip as possible, something that’s often overlooked. On top of it all they gave the RP1 an adjustable ride height control, allowing the driver to lower or raise the car depending on speed and road conditions with the flip of a switch. Literally. This is something a lot of track/weekend warrior type of cars could benefit from.
Powering the RP1, Elemental uses the phenomenal 2-liter Ecoboost engine commonly found in the Ford Focus ST. With some clever tuning they have bumped up the power output to 320hp, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider the curb weight of 1,200lbs. It’s by no means a monster of a car. Mark Fowler, the creator of RP1, has stated…
“From the mechanical layout standpoint, there’s enough scope to put other engines in. We’re not looking at it just yet, but we have the will to think about that in the future. The current 2.0L engine could be tweaked a little bit more. We’ve got no issues with the power as it is now; it’s pretty fast and powerful as it is.”
In case you were wondering why there isn’t a V8 or something absurd under the bonnet. For me, the 2-liter inline 4 is the perfect option. It’s a stout engine that makes great power throughout the entire rev range. This makes the RP1 a more enjoyable driving experience, an attainable amount of power that will still get you around the track faster than almost anything on the road. Seriously, they are rumoring that it will go around the Nurburgring faster than even the Radical SR8 LM. That’s pretty damn fast.
The driving position is one that mimics that of an F1 car. That means you sit with your feet elevated, adding a surreal feeling to the driving experience. This gives the RP1 an ultra low profile, adding to its ability to tear through the air. Yet unlike the BAC Mono, it has room for a passenger, as well as a small storage unit. And the best news, you can get all of this for right around 100 grand. You could have a fleet of these for less than one McLaren P1. Buy 8 and race all your friends, sounds like a lot more fun than a single P1. Not to mention half of the team that built the RP1 are former employees of McLaren F1, sounds like a win-win formula to me.