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[Tramontana R] driven

n a p S iciously l e d e h me in t o h t a t gh d feel ri es Nick Hall ’ y e h t orrow tana R, writ m o t h t r n d on Ea he-top Tramo e d n a l over-t If aliens

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driven [Tramontana R]

A 10% down payment from us*. 90% from the bank*. And a 100% Subaru performance for you. The Tramontana is mostly made up of carbon fibre, but it’s still not terribly light at 1,268kg

A Formula 1 car for the road is an

overused and often useless cliché to describe a Sharjah special coupé or a kid’s bewinged fantasy. Most of the time it’s rubbish, but then just sometimes, like today, when the AD Tramontana R Edition rolls into view, that phrase fits like a Nomex glove. Royal College of Art graduate Josep Rubau’s creation goes beyond just an F1 car though. In what looks like an automotive tribute to local boy Salvador Dali, who was born down the road from the Girona farm that houses this most bizarre hypercar’s HQ , AD Tramontana has created a mash-up of a Grand Prix car and a fighter jet, then unleashed it upon an unsuspecting world. Rubau’s original

plan was for a smooth, open top F1 look, but the realities of everyday living led to this unusual marriage of land and sky. But at 200kph on a quiet Spanish rural road, the aesthetics take a distant backseat to the sheer dynamic genius of the thing. With the 5.5-litre, 720bhp Mercedes twin-turbo just inches away from the driver, the inner beauty of this creation shines through. Get past those in-your-face looks and the Tramontana R can deliver a rapier blow to the heart of the much more famous and aesthetically acceptable Pagani Zonda.

Intoxicating ride The R is ferocious when truly given its head. Its unique layout adds to the

sensation of pure speed, which is what cars like this are truly all about. Sitting high over the nose, it feels like a 320kph, warm and dry motorcyle ride. Add the intoxicating note of the engine, steering so direct it feels hard wired to your limbs and every piece of racing tech that could reasonably cross over, and you have a recipe for something amazing. From the carbon-fibre chassis with F1 levels of torsional rigidity and a full safety cell through to the fully adjustable Ohlins horizontal dampers with external reservoirs exquisitely displayed in the front, the engineering is perfect. Then there are Dymag wheels with carbon rims and magnesium cores, plus inline seats that keep the weight over the centre. Fully independent suspension uses double-wishbones with variable heights. But pretty much every setting is too low for Dubai’s speed bumps

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[Tramontana R] driven



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“The brakes, too, react like a stabbed cat, hauling the car down from triple speed figures more effectively than a brick wall.� Things get even more obsessive under the skin, with silver wiring and gold used throughout the body. That’s before you get to the diamond encrusted interior on the options list. No, really. An LCD screen contains the vital information. The sequential gearlever is shaped like a jet’s joystick and strapped to a six-speed Cima unit, and is thankfully combined with a clutch. There’s a semi-automatic paddleshift on offer, but this is undoubtedly a better, more complete system, and I’d want to get rid of the show-orientated steering wheel and take the plain round one, too, as grabbing fresh air mid-corner would be seriously uncool.

The drive. Or, the flight? Pulling the canopy shut with a dull thud and a firm shove on the lever through a central point of resistance, we were


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The amount of power the manic Tramontana R yields per tonne

away, with the constant chirrup of the larger turbos that have been fitted to the 5.5-litre. They run 1.4 bar of pressure and apart from the noise and low-down torque, were near invisible, but we hadn’t engaged the full works yet. In a nod to every day useability, this car has a BMW M-style sanity mode. For the run to the office, the R can stay at a relatively safe 550bhp, until you push the critical button and let loose the dogs of war. The thrust in the back in full bore mode is insane, and keeps coming from 1,500 revs all the way to the 6,000rpm redline. In a straight line it is ballistic, hitting 100kph in 3.6 seconds, 200kph in 10.15 seconds and topping out at 325kph, although that’s thanks to an electronic limiter. It could be quicker, easily, but Rubau wanted acceleration rather than top speed and to make the most of the 1,100Nm of torque that pushes the fourstage traction control to its ragged edge. Not that the R isn’t quick enough. Rubau could have squeezed more power from this update, and he will, but everything comes in stages. So it keeps the same 720bhp headline figure with fewer revs. Peak power comes at just 5,000 as the

The Mercedes-derived V12 gulps air with 1.4 bar of pressure in the turbos. At full boost, it’s good for 720bhp

They really should put a warning note here, ‘Caution: fire’ | 35

through. Tramontana may have honed its car on the race track and will even lay on a full test team for customers that want to drive their car flat out on closed roads. But it is, first and foremost, a road car. That’s why it comes with the canopy that so hurts the pure vision of an opentopped F1 car, and why it comes with full climate control, comfortable leather trim, plush carpet and a real sound system. It can even lift both the nose and the tail 135mm from the ground with the help of a hydraulic system to prevent expensive scrapes and sheer hassle. None of this helps the weight, and it tips the scales at 1,268kg without fluids. There is a stripped out track version out there, and that is the one we really want to drive, as weight is truly the enemy in a car that is otherwise this pure. Until then, we can still just revel in this automotive oddball that is so exclusive it makes the Pagani Zondas and Bugatti Veyrons of this world seem almost common. This is unit number 10, and Rubau has set an absolute limit of 12 cars per year. They are for the men that already have a Zonda and Veyron in the

Chassis is incredibly light at 96kg, which is still 16kg more than McLaren’s monocoque in the MP4-12C

Spaniard likes low end torque, and he came up with a near stupid 1,100Nm at low revs — enough to push the car up to face melting speeds. What’s more, there’s 250kg of downforce that presses the tyres to the tarmac

specs & rating Model Engine Transmission Max power Max torque Top speed 0-100kph Price Interior Exterior Trim Transmission Engine Performance Appeal UAE friendly

Tramontana R 5.5-litre V12 twin-turbo Six-speed sequential 720bhp @ 5,000rpm 1,100Nm @ 4,000rpm 325kph (limited) 3.6sec Dh2 million (base)

Plus Minus

Fantastic engineering, personalisation options Not very pretty or practical

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and gives more grip than anyone could reasonably break on a public road: it takes 1.22 of lateral G on standard tyres to send it sideways — more on slicks. At high speed it’s sensitive to changing winds and pulls from the straight and narrow, and requires constant micro corrections, yet the car is so alive in your hands that it’s part of the experience and no flaw. The brakes, too, react like a stabbed cat, with the 380mm ceramic

discs at both front and rear, together with six-piston callipers, hauling the car down from triple speed figures more effectively than a brick wall. Its 100kph-0 time of 2.5 seconds is one of the more memorable statistics, but nothing prepares for the sheer violence of the actual procedure. At speed the car gets on its toes. It’s alive and sensitive, direct and instant, but at normal pace none of this shines

garage and want to stand out further from their peers in extravagant style.

verdict Josep Rubau didn’t want to build a sports car for everyone. He didn’t want just another generic project with a smattering of Ferrari at the front and Lamborghini at the rear. Instead, he set out to make a statement that would sell to just a handful of people every year. He wanted a Formula 1 car for the road, and the result is the AD Tramontana R Edition; part racing car, part Eurofighter and part mechanised insect, thanks to that sloping back and the two antenna-style mirrors on the front. A conventional beauty it is not. But Rubau wanted a car that not everyone would understand. His exclusive clientele are not just buying a car, they’re buying a piece of art that they often sit in and appreciate in the privacy of their climate controlled garage with the aid of studio lighting, a plinth and a fine cigar. I just hope they drive the wheels off it first, because to truly understand the inner beauty of this F1 and fighter jet mash-up, you have to do just that.

The expertly crafted cabin is a matter of ‘anything goes’. Want diamonds? No problem. Also, it’s good to know you can have it with a proper, round steering wheel

The fighter jet style cockpit accommodates two passengers, in tandem, so the guy in the back doesn’t get to see much

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Wheels Magazine  

January 08th 2010

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