2006 Wrightspeed X1

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The Wrightspeed X1 is basically an Ariel Atom with an electric motor at its heart. The conversion to electricity was made by Ian Wright, an engineer that has a lot of experience with hybrid and electric systems.

The electric power train comes from AC Propulsion and is the same one that powers the famous Tesla Roadster .

Thanks to its lightweight construction and strong engine, the Wrightspeed X1 is capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.07 seconds, making it one of the fastest electric cars ever built. This, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to beat the Bugatti Veyron and, as a result, Mr. Wright is planning a hybrid model which should do a better job in beating its infamous rival. For the moment, however, the X1 is just a prototype with the price tag set at a whopping $150,000.

Hit the jump for more details on the Wrightspeed X1.

Exterior

Wrightspeed X1

The design of the Wrightspeed X1 was sacrificed for functionality, so don’t expect to see any sort of tasty lines or attractive shapes. Instead, what you get is a solid chassis combined with a massive set of wheels and a mind-blowing electric motor. On the other side of the spectrum, a true car enthusiast will find the exposed technologies fairly attractive, as they permit you to admire every piece of engineering that helps this car deliver its astonishing performance.

The entire body was borrowed from the Ariel Atom and there aren’t any significant exterior modifications between the models.

The Wrightspeed X1 looks more like a cart than a car, as it features an exoskeletal steel frame which is covered only with a few body panels. Perhaps it goes without saying that every piece of technology hangs from the steel skeleton enhancing the unique design of the vehicle.

The wide and low chassis received unequal-length double wishbones front and rear, with pushrods all round activating adjustable coil over spring/damper units.

The Wrightspeed comes without any doors or roof and all you get is a finely welded chassis mixed with a pair of sport seats. There are however, two small individual wind deflectors mounted in front of the driver and passenger seats.

The heavy battery pack is mounted in front of the rear axle thus helping the Wrightspeed X1 stay better planted on its wheel during aggressive driving. At the back of the drivers, there is a big cooling air intake for the electric parts and motor.

Interior

Wrightspeed X1

There isn’t much to say about the interior as it is pretty minimalist. To climb on board, you’d need some serious acrobatic skills, because first, you’ll have to get over the big steel frame which stays between you and the seats.

Once on board, you’ll find yourself sitting pretty low to the ground, but there is enough leg- and shoulder-room to keep you comfortable.

The driver is met by a rudimentary three spoke steering wheel mounted in front of a basic instrument cluster which keeps you informed at all times.

The center console is fitted with a big central screen which comes with GPS and other useful functions for the vehicle. Underneath it, there is the battery management system which lets you know what it’s going on with the electric energy.

Every indicator is marked clearly and can be easily understood. Everything inside feels solid and well built, giving the entire cockpit a feel of durability. Don’t expect to find any soft touch fabrics or pleasant materials, as you’re “welcomed” only by hard steel and solid plastics which merge together to form a typical race car environment.

Engines and performance

Wrightspeed X1

The Wrightspeed X1’s electric motor and inverter comes from AC Propulsion, which is the same company that developed the TZero concept and provided various parts to Tesla. The high energy density lithium ion batteries are sourced from A123 Systems and can be fully charged in 4.5 hours, offering a 100 mile range.

The engine delivers a maximum output of 260 hp @ 8800 rpm and a torque of 190 lb-ft, available at its peak between 0 and 5000 rpm.

The 190 lb-ft of torque may not sound too impressive, but given the fact that it needs to deal with a curb weight of only 1535 lb and it’s available at its full power from the moment you hit the go pedal, it will manage to send the X1 to 60 mph in only 3.07 seconds. This is good enough to beat strong models like the Porsche Carrera GT orFerrari 360 Spyder .

The electric motor is bolted on a Honda transmission which is modified to offer only the second gear (8.35:1). It’s also worth to be mentioned, that there is no clutch, so all you have to do is play with the accelerator pedal.

Wrightspeed X1 Motor Specifications

Hp @rpmlb-ft @ rpm0-60 mph
260 @ 8000190 @ 0-50003.07 seconds

Ride and handling

Wrightspeed X1

The Wrightspeed X1 drives like a true race car. The vehicle rewards you with a well sorted steering and an excellent balance between ride and handling.

Despite the mean looking appearance, the X1’s ride is pretty comfortable too, thanks to the well tuned dampers which are able to soak the small road imperfections without too much drama.

For enhanced driving performances, the X1’s tyre pressure can be modified according to your wishes by means of a set of convenient settings. Needless to say, that the wheel is communicating perfectly with the front wheels and the rack and pinion steering does a brilliant job, providing a solid feedback.

The handling is pretty predictable, but the understeer effect can be difficult to control by an inexperienced driver.

Verdict

Wrightspeed X1

For the moment the Wrightspeed X1 is just a prototype, but according to some rumors it might be followed by a production version pretty soon.

According to the company, the production model will keep the same performances as the X1, which is great news. Moreover, the production version will also meet the required safety standards.

Though, the Wrightspeed X1 is aimed only at those who are ready to sacrifice comfort for the sake of speed and adrenaline, as it’s far from being a practical vehicle or a day by day commuter. Nevertheless, the X1 remains one of the fastest street legal electric cars and it’s able to make a compelling case for itself, leaving anything short of a Bugatti Veyron breath in a big cloud of dust.


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