Driven: Westfield Sport Turbo


Look at the power and performance figures of the new Westfield 1600 Sport Turbo, and it’s going to be mightily tempting to see it as cut-price rival to a Caterham R300. After all, for £3k less than you’ll have to shell out for the Caterham, you get 192bhp vs 175bhp, and 0-60mph in 4.7secs against 4.5secs. The Westfield even shadows the R300 on top speed, topping out at 142mph against the Caterham’s 140mph.

The thing is, although it’s tempting to look at the Westfield this way, it is also utterly wrong. You realise this as soon as you see the Westfield in the metal. It has a proper, lockable boot for a start – an almost unthinkable luxury in a Caterham. Slide into the surprisingly well padded seat, and you’ll see a ‘proper’ instrument cluster.

The instruments themselves are taken from the current Vauxhall Corsa, but rather than a slapdash, er, dash, there actually seems to have been some thought put into where the switches and dials have been put (including the use of a symmetrical design to ease the switch to left-hand drive – this the first Westfield to gain European small series type approval). The overall effect is to almost make the Sport Turbo feel like a ‘real’ car, even if the way it’s all put together doesn’t quite reach the same level of integrity as a mainstream car’s cabin would.


The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine is also taken from the Vauxhall Corsa and, as well as being gutsy, you can, in theory take it to your local Vauxhall dealer and get the oily bits serviced. Vauxhall mechanics will even be able to plug in their own diagnostic equipment.

Out on the road the Sport Turbo is perhaps not as pant-wettingly rapid as a near-200bhp turbocharged lump ought to be in a Lotus Seven-style car, but then it does weigh a comparatively portly 650kg. In fairness, the linear power delivery of the little turbocharged motor, while it takes away some of the fear factor, also takes away some of the explosive excitement that a really peaky turbo motor would give it.

Still, the Sport Turbo is more than quick enough, and the turbocharger means that mid-range overtaking punch is always available at the twitch of the right foot. The slick, short-throw gearbox is no chore if you want to explore the upper echelons of the Sport Turbo’s power band, either.

Push hard on a really challenging, bumpy B-road and you might find that the steering, which feels meaty and secure on sweeping A-roads, suddenly becomes a wee bit leaden, but its always faithful, if a little short on feel.


The soft suspension works really well at a medium to brisk pace, almost smoothing out road imperfections with Lotus-like aplomb. Get back to that tough B-road, however, and the Sport Turbo begins to heave and float on its suspension as you push harder over bumpy roads. It rarely becomes genuinely unsettled, but it does miss out on that last five per cent of damping control that marks out genuinely ballistic cross-country weapons.

In the end, the Sport Turbo is a bit of a paradox – it looks and goes like a pukka hardcore roadster, but the ‘proper’ interior, comfy suspension settings and a 40mpg-plus cruising ability make it possibly more appealing a less flat-out proposition. If you intend to do a lot of track work, this probably isn’t the car for you. If, however, you want a good-value toy for the occasional country blast that doesn’t compromise too much on refinement, then the Sport Turbo could be just the ticket.

 







   

 

 

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (119) Join the discussion on the forum

  • jason61c 22 Oct 2009

    you can buy/build a better kit car for the money than that.

    Westfields are overpriced. Looks boring too.

  • sniff diesel 22 Oct 2009

    WTF does this thing weigh a massive 650kgs?

  • Steamer 22 Oct 2009

    Blimey - I didnt even realise there was a 1.6 Turbo Corsa let alone a factory standard turbo westfield.

    Thats a mightly large can on the side isnt it!?

  • Marf 22 Oct 2009

    Steamer said:
    1.6 Turbo Corsa
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article1808578.ece

  • J5 22 Oct 2009

    Steamer said:
    Thats a mightly large can on the side isnt it!?
    I would think there's a big heat shield around it to stop leg burning? smile

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