Motoring Review - Gumpert Apollo

Tim Thurston takes advantage of a rare opportunity to test drive the �277,995 supercar.

I'd always wondered what it would be like to drive a super car. So when I had the chance to test the Gumpert Apollo 4.2 V8 Bi-turbo 700bhp sport coupe, valued at �279,995, I wasn't going to turn it down!Imported from Germany, it is one of only two available in the UK, to date only twenty have been made and there is a six month lead time from order to fulfilment. So to say its exclusive doesn't do it justice, it is virtually unique!Named after a Greek God, I was expecting something special: mythical, magical and monstrous! Designed by German Roland Gumpert, the Apollo uses space age technology, with a beautifully designed aerodynamic shape, Delorean style doors and, vital for a high performance road and track car, it has excellent reliability.Based on Formula 1 with a removable steering wheel and a sequential gear change that you flick through, this Audi based concept car is built to compete with the Ferrari Enzo and Bugatti, but with this car you can drive to the track, race it, and then drive home.The look attracts immediate attention, with an essential racing spoiler complementing the superb lines. The sound is pure F1. It is impossible to avoid a throaty growl when pulling away. At over 3,500 revs, when the twin turbo kicks in, it becomes more of a screaming howl.The cockpit, which is accessed reasonably easily once the technique is mastered, is functional with basic dials. The racing seats are firm, but not uncomfortable. The F1 influence is evident, as well as the removable steering wheel it has an engine start button and a heavy and rather chunky gear change lever.The Apollo has all the normal luxuries expected of a car in this price bracket: leather interior, entertainment system, mobile phone and reversing camera. However, if you own this car you will want to drive it and listening to the engine is much more fun than the stereo.Whilst initially not easy to drive, with limited visibility, a heavy clutch and a chunky gear box, after a little tuition from Felix Frixou owner of Benz - Bavarian at Duffield, it didn't take long for me to master and enjoy. Built from carbon fibre to meet safety and strength standards for both track and road, the feel is sturdy and safe. With seven different traction control settings, the power distribution is adjusted to suit whatever road conditions you encounter.As expected, the handling is excellent. The faster you go, the better it feels. Suspension is naturally firm but the drive is not uncomfortable. The low position makes you feel you are driving a racing car, whatever the traffic conditions. Acceleration is amazing - 0 to 60 in 3 seconds - low rev torque is very good and there is no low revs judder. Amazingly the Apollo doesn't even mind trundling at 30 mph in third.Whilst the top speed of 224 mph isn't likely to be reached on the road, the Apollo is quick enough to get you into and out of trouble. Fortunately the brakes are good enough to stop you.So, priced at �280,000, who would buy this car? Well, they would want to make an impact, both visually and audibly; they would want an exciting, fun drive; they would probably want to race, as not to use this beast on a track would be heresy; they would appreciate incredible motor engineering; probably collect cars, and they will be rich!Someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps?

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