DRIVEN: ARTEGA GT
Little-known German Lotus rival bundles Fisker styling and Passat R36 V6 to stunning effect
Take that V6 motor and DSG gearbox first. Artega did. It took it all the way from Wolfsburg (where it was being used in the VW Passat R36) and squeezed it into the back of its own aluminium monocoque chassis.
Mid-engined six-cylinder sports car with a double-clutch semi-automatic gearbox? That's comparable to a Porsche Cayman with PDK, surely? And an alu monocoque bathtub chassis using another company's engine and gearbox? You can't tell me you're not thinking Lotus Evora right now...
Take a look at those forged 19-inch wheels. The rears are impressively wide with 305-section tyres more normally seen on a Lamborghini or Corvette. The doors are a proper size too. And with an Alcantara-lined roof this high it's almost simple to hop in and out of the GT in a way that Lotus owners either dream of. Or maybe just laugh at.
Either way, it's a pleasure to slide into those cream leather bucket seats. Park your clutch foot up and leave it against the dead-pedal. Push the Artega-badged VW/Audi key into the same generic slot you'll see on anything from a lowly Golf to an Audi RS6. Fighter plane style multi-function LCDs wink into life either side of the beautifully sculpted speedo and rev counter. The needle denoting rpm gently changes from blue (cold) to green (warm) as I check out the myriad other controls and gadgets.
The 3.6 V6 rumbles and burbles away in the manner of a much bigger engine as we dawdle out of Nürburg towards my favourite roads, the track out of bounds to us sadly. The engine note isn't intrusive, but it's definitely insistent. At just over 1,000rpm there's enough poke under the pedal to induce a chuckle. By 1,500rpm it's obvious the 305 rears are more than just a styling statement. For all the docility and smoothness of the DSG transmission there's actually a serious quantity of low-down shove behind the pedal. Jinking through the corners, holding the car against the hairpin curves, I'm enjoying myself.
For a moment the needle itself flickers red as I plant the car deep into the rev limiter... or rather, I don't. The DSG just slips the next gear into place without any fuss. The acceleration is, literally, seamless. Having upshifts performed automatically will no doubt drive me mental on a racetrack, but I can't argue with the logic of the DSG on the street. No over-revved engines, no mis-shifts and even better fuel consumption too.
Apparently I'm not the only one trying to compare the Artega to more mainstream and established rivals. A 'sport' optioned yellow Artega (with different suspension, tyres and brakes) has recently crushed the Audi TT RS and Cayman S to the tune of over a second a lap at a Sport Auto Hockenheim group test. That will be the next version to test. I have the perfect place in mind. And I promise, not so heavy on the comparisons next time...