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Thursday 4th January 2007


ADRENALINE MOTORSPORT MURTAYA

Running gear by Subaru, chassis by ex-Lotus engineer, report by Graham Bell.

Adrenaline Motorsport Murtaya
Adrenaline Motorsport Murtaya

Remember the Delfino Feroce? A few years back this Impreza based, composite monocoque-bodied sports car burst onto the scene, received praise for its dynamic qualities and then disappeared never to be seen again – apart from in virtual form on a computer game.

Well if the idea of owning a lightweight four-wheel drive sports car with 300+bhp potential appealed to you but you’d given up on it ever happening, the good news is that now it’s finally possible thanks to Adrenaline Motorsport and its new Murtaya.

The people behind Adrenaline have years of experience preparing competition cars, while the Murtaya’s designer spent several years doing chassis development work at Lotus on both Elise variants and the current generation of aluminium Aston chassis.

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Plastic Impreza

When it came to creating the Murtaya Adrenaline utilised the latest in automotive IT, including using a digital scanning system to create a highly accurate computer model of the Subaru running gear, greatly reducing the time required to create a CAD model of the car’s structure.

This consists of a composite monocoque bodyshell used in conjunction with a steel front subframe to carry the mechanical parts. The bodyshell itself is GRP (fibreglass) with both polyurethane foam and composite honeycomb sections sandwiched into key areas to increase stiffness, while the subframe is made using roll cage grade CDS tubing.

Naturally all of this has been developed and fully analysed using the CAD software, with the development prototype featured here having an impressive torsional stiffness of over 14,000Nm/degree. By way of comparison, the S1 Elise is 11,000Nm/degree.

However, production versions should be even stiffer due to various improvements, including a stronger windscreen frame that (in conjunction with the roll bar) will take the weight of the car in the event of a roll. In fact the Murtaya promises a high degree of crash protection all round thanks to the monocoque’s overall high strength and features such as the high, wide sills and in-built impact protection structures.

And then of course there’s the dynamic safety afforded by Subaru’s four-wheel drive system lowering the risk of suddenly swapping ends should you apply too much power on a slippery road.

Healthy power

Talking of power, the prototype produces 275bhp at 6,000rpm as well as a very healthy 285lb-ft at 4,500rpm. No performance figures have been taken yet, but with the Murtaya weighing just 925kg, estimates of 0-60 in four seconds and 140mph+ sound realistic.

If that’s not fast enough, engine options up to 395bhp are available, while for ultimate performance Adrenaline will also be offering a ‘track’ version with no windscreen or doors and around 75kg less weight. In fact they’re building one of these with a 500bhp 2.5 litre engine that should provide some serious track day fun later this year.

Driving it

However, what we’re concerned with here is how the Murtaya cuts it as a road-going sports car, which is how it was conceived.

Looking at the photos and seeing the deep sills and shallow doors you probably wondered how easy it is to get in and out of, especially with the hardtop on. OK, it might not have been your overriding thought, but be honest, it did occur didn’t it?

Well, easier than you’d expect is the answer, and though a certain amount of agility is required one bloke of six feet six inches has managed it. And if I tell you that some of the Adrenaline crew are also over six feet tall you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the Murtaya provides lots of legroom. Combine that with the height adjustable Impreza steering column positioned directly in line with the Impreza pedals and the Murtaya should also provide a comfortable driving position for most.

Practicalities

The interior is basic but neatly trimmed in leather and Alcantara (with options including carbon fibre available) and while there’s no stowage for oddments in the cabin there is enough room behind the seats to take a couple of suitcases. Add to that a boot large enough to take two sets of golf clubs (yes, somebody did ask) and the Murtaya should be easily capable of carrying enough luggage for two people on a long weekend.

Not just in summer either, because with that hardtop having a heated rear window and the cabin coming with a heater as standard or air conditioning as an option, the Murtaya has been designed so you can drive it all year round.

And believe me you’ll want to, because putting all the features that make the Impreza such a highly regarded driver’s car into a significantly lighter and more agile chassis means the Murtaya is potentially the ultimate all-weather B-road blaster.

On the move

On the move the Murtaya’s Impreza base is instantly recognisable from the aural dramatics, with the Scooby’s characteristic deep THRUMMMM from the exhaust making way for the FWOOSHT of the dump valve as you take it up through the revs.

In common with many potent two-litre turbo cars the Murtaya doesn’t pull well at low revs so you need to use the gears to keep it happy, with Adrenaline’s extended gear linkage providing a nice positive change.

Take the Murtaya above 3,000rpm and it gets enthusiastic, while above 4,000rpm it goes positively ballistic as the high torque to weight ratio (higher than a Tuscan’s) really comes into play. Keep your foot down and strong acceleration continues up to 7,000rpm, and I’d guess that only the swiftest narrow-bodied lightweights or mega-power supercars will get you to the ton quicker.

Underpinnings

It slows down rather rapidly too thanks to the standard Impreza brakes having around 400kg less weight to deal with, though if heavy track use is on the agenda there are of course plenty of upgrades available. Although the prototype doesn’t have ABS, Adrenaline reckon it should be able to make the Impreza’s system work on a Murtaya so it might feature as an option on production cars.

Adrenaline still hadn’t finalised the Murtaya’s spring rates when I drove it and was debating whether or not to make them a little softer for a more compliant ride, while those 215/40 x 17 Toyos were definitely over-inflated ready for calibration testing.

Even so, the Murtaya successfully soaked up most imperfections along the testing Cornish lanes, so with lower tyre pressures I’d say it’d be a good road and track compromise, with the optional Spax adjustable struts always providing scope for personal fine-tuning.

Something Adrenaline had finalised was the front suspension geometry, which has increased castor and negative camber to eliminate the Impreza’s inherent understeer, and it certainly seems to both turn in and change direction keenly enough.

There’s plenty of steering feel too, with changes in road surface easily perceptible through the wheel, and while the standard 2.8 turns rack isn’t particularly quick I’d still rate the Murtaya as having some of the best steering I’ve used this side of an Elise.

Driver satisfaction

What this lot adds up to is a car that in real world conditions not only provides a high degree of driver satisfaction but will also enable you to cover ground faster than in almost anything else.

As for build quality, the hard-worked prototype inevitably lacks the glossiness of a showpiece, but it feels solidly constructed, the in-house moulded body is ripple free with good panel alignment while the steel subframe is CNC laser profiled to ensure accuracy.

Is it practical enough to use on an everyday basis? Well, I’d say that if you could live with an Elise or VX220 on an everyday basis then you could live with a Murtaya too. I certainly could.

How much? From around £16,500 on the road if you build it yourself.

Yes, the Murtaya is a kit car - but fully built versions are available, with road cars starting at around £23,000 for a car of similar spec to the prototype made with used parts, which includes the customer’s choice of soft-top or hardtop.

In fact although Adrenaline Motorsport has launched the Murtaya as a kit car due to financial expediency, its intention from the outset was to produce a car that could easily be developed into a fully-fledged production car made with all-new parts.

Well the omens for that happening are already looking good, with around half the initial sales being to ‘non kit car’ types who are paying for fully built versions. What’s more, Adrenaline now has an arrangement with no less than Prodrive for the supply of new Subaru parts – including Prodrive’s uprated options – which should give a good indication of how seriously both car and company are being taken.

Considering the integrity of its design, the performance potential offered by the Subaru parts and the new Prodrive tie-in, I’d say that the Murtaya is probably the most significant specialist performance car launch of 2006.

If you want one I’d advise you to get your name down quickly, because with Adrenaline building up a network of international agents and setting a total production limit of just 48 Murtayas per year (and only 36 in 2007) there could soon be a waiting list.

However, Adrenaline Motorsport isn’t just limiting itself to producing the Murtaya. It also operates as an automotive design consultancy and already has another couple of projects in the pipeline that I’m not at liberty to discuss here – though one of them does involve a tie-in with a big manufacturer…

(c) Copyright Graham Bell 2006

Author: Graham Bell