Artega GT

Debut: 2008
Maker: Artega
Predecessor: no

New German sports car wants to beat Porsche

Recently I observed a trend: the world’s center of sports car specialists is gradually shifting from UK to Germany. Back up by the performance engines and components from BMW and Volkswagen group, new German sports car makers like Wiesmann started getting the attention of the world. The latest entry is Artega, a subsidiary of German electronic components maker Paragon. Paragon produces mainly in-car multimedia, instrumental and climate control systems. But its boss Klaus Dieter Frers is interested in producing sports cars as well. He established Artega in Northern German city Delbruck (not far from Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg), hired ex-Aston Martin design chief Henrik Fisker and ex-Porsche engineer Hardy Essig to design his first car, Artega GT. Priced at 75,000 Euro, this car is more expensive than Porsche Cayman S (60,000 Euro) and closer to the territory of the base 911 Carrera (80,000 Euro). Some might question how a new sports car company without racing or prestige pedigree could be dare to compete with Porsche directly. Well, Mr. Frers is not too greedy. He plans to sell only 100 cars this year and eventually rise to 500 cars a year from 2010. The market should easily accommodate it.

It weighs only 1100 kg, some 200 kg lighter than Cayman S...

The Artega GT is best compare to Porsche Cayman S. Both are mid-engined sports cars and powered by a 6-cylinder engine. However, the Artega has a much sportier profile – much shorter, wider, lower yet runs a slightly longer wheelbase. Its big, 19-inch wheels and fat tires are pushed to the corners to deliver an immensely stable appearance. Its curvy bodyshell looks more muscular, energetic yet compacter than the Porsche. Unlike the mass production Porsche, it is made of exotic lightweight materials. The bodyshell is carbon-fiber reinforced composites. The chassis comprises of welded aluminum tub, aluminum spaceframe front structure, tubular steel rear structure and tubular steel roof rails. It weighs only 1100 kg, some 200 kg lighter than Porsche. Suspensions are double-wishbone type at all corners, another advantage against the all-strut setup of Porsche.

Mounted transversely at the tubular steel rear chassis is a Volkswagen narrow-angle V6 and 6-speed DSG gearbox. They come directly from Passat R36. The 3.6-liter 24-valve twin-VVT engine produces 300 horsepower and 258 lb-ft in stock form, abundant for the 1100 kg sports car so that any tuning is considered unnecessary. Artega claims 168 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in less than 4.8 seconds, which is totally believable. Such performance level is well matched with its price – faster than Cayman S and slower than 911 Carrera
though not as much performance bargain as British and American sports cars.

For a low volume sports car, it is very well built and engineered...

However, the German car excels in build quality. We are not talking about Porsche level of build quality, but for such a low volume sports car, it is very well built and engineered indeed. Although its cockpit is not very stylish or luxuriously trimmed, it has the basics made right. For example, excellent driving position, supportive bucket seats and well-judged control weightings. It also gets an electronic instrument and control system purposely developed by Paragon, something other low volume sports car specialists couldn’t hope for. Despite of its low height, its low-mounted seats enables surprising amount of head room, while the narrow transmission tunnel frees up elbow room. This cabin feels roomier than it appears to be. Behind the seats is a luggage space measuring 225 liters, in addition to the 75-liter front boot, it is nearly as practical as Porsche.

Nevertheless, the best of Artega GT is how it drives. Start the motor, it exhaust note sounds like a small-capacity V8. The Volkswagen long-stroke V6 has a wide torque band, as shown by its flat torque curve peaking from 2400 to 5300 rpm. Coupling to its lightweight, the Artega feels much more energetic than Cayman S. Its paddle-shift double-clutch gearbox is typically responsive, smooth and enjoyable to use.

It is hard to imagine how a German machine could deal with uneven roads so good, especially at the same time it excels in high-speed stability...

In corners, you can feel its low center of gravity through the rock steady cornering. The massive tires (235/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR19 rear) provide excellent grip and put the Artega on rails. The steering is lightweight yet razor sharp and genuinely communicative, something only the best-tuned mid-engined machines could achieve. It drives like a more powerful version of Lotus Elise. In other words, sportier and more responsive than Cayman S. The chassis feels rock-solid as the suspensions soak up ruts and bumps on B-roads beautifully. It is hard to imagine how a German machine could deal with uneven roads so good, especially at the same time it excels in high-speed stability.

The Artega GT is really amazing on the road. It makes Porsche Cayman S feel soft and ordinary. So the new comer has the giant knocked out ? Not exactly. Porsche still holds a quality standard and reliability records that low volume sports car specialists unable to match. Though well engineered for its kind, Artega GT is not as polished or as refined as Porsche. Moreover, not many people would pay the same price of a 911 for an unknown sports car. That said, Rome was not built in one day. If Artega keep producing cars as good in the coming years, it might just become another Porsche.

 The above report was last updated on 10 Oct 2008. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks


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Artega GT
Mid-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe + tubular steel subframes
4010 / 1880 / 1180 mm
2460 mm
V6, 10.6-degree
3597 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
300 hp / 6600 rpm
258 lbft / 2400-5300 rpm
6-speed twin-clutch (DSG)
All double-wishbone
F: 235/35ZR19
R: 285/30ZR19
1100 kg
168 mph (c)
4.8 (c)

Performance tested by: -

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