Renault Spider vs. Marlin Sportster - Sunday Telegraph

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Renault Spider vs. Marlin Sportster - Sunday Telegraph

Beitragvon Spideristi » Di Mai 31, 2005 7:26 pm

Der Artikel ist vom Juni 1997:


The Renault Spider and the Marlin Sportster, return driving to its elemental essentials, writes Neil Lyndon

It seems that drivers are so bored with conventional ears that manufacturers have had to vary their identities, to obscure the basic simplicity of their utilitarian character. The modern car must he an air-conditioned living room, entertainment centre, workspace, Family fun area and fashion accessory.

But the Renault Spider and the Marlin Sportster return the idea of the car to its elemental essentials: engine, transmission, steering wheel, chassis, body and two seats. These cars are the nearest thing on four wheels to an application of the principle "less is more".

Both are a joy to drive. The Renault's two-litre 150bhp engine, mounted behind the seats, gives the Spider the balance, grip and agility of a single-seat racing car. It doesn't just go where you point it; the Spider follows and executes your thoughts; no sooner have you seen and considered an opportunity to overtake than it has been effected. No sooner have you lined up the car for a corner, than it is behind you.

Meanwhile, the Spider's ultra-modern looks are almost embarrassingly magnetic. It is impossible to stop this car in the street without a crowd gathering to finger, fondle, point and ask questions. The question they all ask is "Doesn't it need a roof?" The answer is "We have to he thankful that, unlike its predecessors, at least it's got a windscreen".

Drivers of the first versions of the Sport Spider had to wear goggles. The current fitting of a windscreen on the current Spiders might suggest that the manufacturer is going soft. What next? A radio? Carpets? Surely not. The Sport Spider is unashamedly basic. The bare metals of its interior seem to have been hacked out with a buzz-saw and banged together with the blunt end of a spanner its sprung doors that lift like wings are redundant, and when I slammed the driver's door, the wing-mirror shattered. It is easier and safer to step over the door and slide into tie seat. This may make you feel like Johnny Herbert but if you are the shape of Murray Walker, you may feel you deserve a usable door for your £26,595.

More can be had for less with the Marlin Sportster. With prices starting at about £19,500 for a model with a two-litre Ford engine and rising to £25,000 plus for a six-cylinder 2.5-litre BMW engine (enlarged to 2.7 litres), the purchaser of the Marlin gets not only wide-opening doors, but also water-resistant carpeting and finished metal edges, rounded, polished and then painted with an artist's care. However, there is no windscreen at least, not yet.* The Sportster is fitted with aero-screens like those of the Twenties and Thirties Bentleys and Alfa-Romeos it spiritually emulates, but its designer and maker, Mark Matthews, is toying with the idea of fitting a sliding retractable windscreen following the style of the Fifties Austin Healey 100/4.

This typifies Matthews' magpie manner. He saw a picture of tile l00/4 in an old magazine and wondered if the sliding windscreen would work on his car. Two years ago he saw a photograph in the Daily Telegraph of a 1931 Alfa Romeo eight -cylinder; the radiator surround of the Sportster now has cut-outs in the style of that Alfa. The lorries of a milk company near Marlin's factory in Crediton have their steel sides polished in glittering whorls; so does the Sportster's facia.

By comparison with the 200 Sport Spiders that Renault hopes to sell, the 20 to 30 Sportsters which Marlin plans to make this year, will give their owners an unqualified sense of uniqueness. Each Sportster is bespoke, hand made to the buyer's tastes over colour, interior trim and engine capacity. Even the body and chassis are made and assembled by hand, with a quality of metal finish that should humble some of the most famous names in British car-making.

Like the Spider, the Sportster is easy to drive. But the Marlin leaves no room for doubt that it is a genuine racer. While the Spider's performance lacks the verve of a lotus Elise, the Sportster bursts with power - especially the version with the BMW 3.5-litre six-cylinder engine, which produces 300bhp and the Getrag gearbox is almost redundant; third gear would pull the car from rest to over 100mph.

With a weight of less than 700kg, the Sportster is as close as we can get to the minimalist driving experience of classic British cars of the past. Lovers of those cars always knew they did not need a heater or a play-station, but even they may welcome a starting motor that works and a reliable engine. These are among the few concessions to modernity offered by the thrilling elemental Sport Spider and Marlin Sportster.

Price on the road: from £19,500.
Fuel consumption: 32mpg (average).
Max power: 220bhp.
Max speed: 130mph (0.62mph: 5 secs).

Price on the road: £26.595.
Fuel consumption: 28.5mpg (urban).
Max power: 150bhp.
Max speed: 134mph (0.62mph: 6.9 secs).

Article - Neil Lyndon.

*(Please note: The Marlin Sportster is now available with full weather equipment, including a unique tilt and slide windscreen.)

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