New Cars + New Gear + New Technology
The number of Dutch supercar companies can be counted on the fingers of one finger. Spyker doesn't have quite the heritage of some well-known Italian and German makes, but it's working on it. And there's no better way than taking part in Le Mans and mixing it up with the big boys. Spyker's creditable fifth-place GT2 class 2009 finish there, beating Porsche, gave it more credibility. Although there was also the 2007 season in Formula One, where $100 million went up in smoke. Incredibly, the company weathered that storm to bring a new car to market.
The C8 Aileron Coupe is based on a longer wheelbase than previous Spykers, primarily to house an optional automatic transmission (something prospective customers have been asking for), in this case a ZF six-speeder. It also has the happy effect of not only enhancing ride quality, but bringing harmony and balance to the design's proportions and lines that were likewise missing from early Spykers.
That slight awkwardness has gone, and the curvaceous Aileron coupe looks like a mature sports car from a mature company. Not bad considering this is only ten years on from Spyker first opening its doors. Well, re-opening, because the marque started in 1875 when the Spijker brothers became coach craftsmen (counting Dutch royalty among their clients), then car makers, then airplane builders.
But the Spyker name receded into history, to be resurrected by Victor Muller, lawyer and total car nut. He even designs the cars. Muller's marketing strategy seems to be based on the old joke: what do you get the man who has everything? His typical clients are successful, self-made people who have nothing to prove. They already have the Ferrari, the Porsche, the Bentley, the Aston, plus a few other top-notch badges in their garage, and they're looking for something fresh, something few other people have, yet still sufficiently impressive to be a status symbol. Hey, a gap in the market is a gap in the market.
If anyone was wary of getting a Spyker before, they might like to reconsider the Aileron. It gets all the right reactions, from people in gas stations asking: "What the hell is that?" to everyone else asking: "What the hell is that?" The good thing is, though, the chassis has all the right reactions too.
Some cars feel great, agile and fast on the street, but fall apart at the track-the talent just isn't there (even the BMW Z3 M Coupe was guilty of that failing, it became too soft and wallowy). That's not the case with the Aileron. If anyone actually wants to take a car that costs upward of $200,000 for a track day, they'll find the Aileron an interesting proposition.
Take a set of Bilstein coilovers, mix in a set of Eibach springs and a double-wishbone setup, then get Lotus to whip it all up into a feast of handling prowess. This thing grips. And grips. As one might expect from a company whose knowledge in the dark arts of suspension tuning is recognized and lauded throughout the world. Not only that, there's a tactility to the steering and chassis that conveys to the driver almost everything that's going on with the wheels and tires. A necessary attribute, because the engine takes some containing.
Mid-mounted in a super-rigid aluminum spaceframe is an all-aluminum 4.2-liter V8 made by Audi. From the factory, it develops 300 hp, but an ECU re-flash and optimized breathing boosts output to a substantial 400 hp with 354 lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels, enabling a standstill-to-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph. In a car that weighs not much more than 3,000 pounds (thanks in part to hand-rolled aluminum panels and even hand-made aluminum pedals), the acceleration is phenomenal. As is the exhaust note when Sport mode is engaged (merely bypassing the baffles, but it provides a great mid-range bark).