Let’s say you’re driving along the highway on your daily commute and suddenly you hear the roar of what sounds like a race car coming up behind you. Then all the sudden you see a flash go by that looks like a mini Le Mans style racecar. You might think that you’re losing your mind but actually, it’s just the new Praga R1R.
Praga is a Czech Republic-based company that’s built what many are calling the most hardcore road car ever made and just by looking at it, you can tell they mean business. Considering that the R1R is Praga’s first attempt at a road car since 1947 they wanted to come with something really special. Their intentions were to make a car that will provide the “functionality of a circuit race car on a track and usability and comfort for an ultimate street use” according to their website. From what we can tell, they’ve done exactly that.
You might think there’s going to be a monster engine in this thing producing 1,000hp or something like that, but you’d be wrong. The R1R is all about being lightweight and efficient. However, don’t be mistaken there is something special providing the oomph. It’s a 2.0L four-cylinder engine sourced from Renaultsport that’s been fitted with Praga’s own unique turbocharging system. Apparently, you have the ability to adjust the boost that will produce a total of 390hp when turned all the way up, or you can turn it down around 330hp if you’re still getting used to the power to weight.
390hp really isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. There are standard family sedans nowadays that put out those numbers. But what’s going to set the R1R apart from even the supercars of the world, is it’s weight. The R1R tips the scales at a measly 670kg or roughly 1477lbs, which is less than half the weight of the previously mentioned family sedans. The reason for that is the R1R was built around a carbon composite monocoque that not only provides strength and rigidity but also a high level of safety for the occupants of the car. They say they used higher safety standards for the road car than they do for their racecars which is really saying something.
But you don’t release a car that light, with that powerful of an engine, and not make it as safe as possible right? Especially if this was your first attempt at a road car in almost 70 years and had the eyes of the world watching. But let’s be honest, you don’t buy something like this because it’s safe. You buy something like this to experience the thrill of driving that no other car on the market can provide.
As soon as you start the process of getting in the R1R you know you’re in for a treat. You have to crawl through this small opening and wedge your way into the driver’s seat that happens to be center mounted like you see in a McLaren F1. After you’ve encapsulated yourself in this cocoon of awesomeness we get to what we think is one of the coolest things about the car, the steering wheel. This isn’t your everyday steering wheel, it’s one that looks like it came straight off a Formula One car which provides everything the driver would ever need right at their fingertips. That means that you really never need to take your hands off the steering wheel and from the reports that are coming out regarding the performance of this wicked little car, that’s probably a good thing. Because it weighs so little, that 390hp is more than enough to blast off 0-60 times in less than three seconds and that’s not even the cars specialty!
The R1R specializes in the handling characteristics thanks to an incredible amount of downforce it produces. According to reports, by the time it hits 124mph, it’s generating its own bodyweight in downforce which means theoretically it could drive upside down in a tunnel if it was going fast enough. In the real world that translates to handling at the highest level. After watching a few first drives of the car, almost everyone that sat behind the wheel say this car is so precise that it responds to even the slightest twitch in the steering wheel. That means if you make even the slightest mistake it’ll be magnified and potentially troublesome. The good thing is that any mistakes you make are usually easily corrected because of the responsive nature of the car.
Praga only plans on making 68 of these brilliant little road cars and each selling for an estimated $185,000 so they aren’t exactly cheap. We look forward to more tests coming out on the Praga R1R including some lap times at major tracks to compare them with the top track day cars, as well as the fastest road cars. Judging off what we’re seeing so far, it could be quite the competition for rest of the world.