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Farboud GTS

Rating:

Arash Farboud's supercar dream is now a
roadgoing reality - and we're first to drive it

Beyond the sheer, wild, intoxicating, horizon-sucking pace of the thing, what most clearly defines the Farboud experience as being different to others is the cacophony of its twin turbos. On a charge they snort and puff with the slightly frightening intensity and volume of a herd of stampeding wildebeest. Lift off the gas and their wastegates dump boost with all the drama of a submarine jettisoning ballast in an emergency dive to escape depth- charges. And if you're on and off the throttle then you're treated to a form of aural ping-pong as the turbos spool-up then blow off boost individually in a strangely rhythmic, alternating sequence; it's like listening to an early Beatles album, mixed so the feed to one speaker is different from that to the other - a primitive form of stereo.

Arash Farboud, founder of the company that bears his name and, at 29 years old, still preposterously young to be at the helm of a fledgling supercar maker, concedes that the sound of the turbos - in fact, the noise of the car as a whole - could be off-putting to some. Yet he's unapologetic. 'This is the car I built for me,' he confesses, 'a raw, thrilling pseudo-racing car. It was my dream to create something this extreme and now I've done it. The next stage for the company is to build something a little softer and more road friendly.'

In case you missed evo 053, when we introduced the whole Farboud project, here, briefly and crudely, is the story. Rich boy has fetish for supercars and Le Mans racers. Decides to sink a chunk of the proceeds of selling off the family business into building own car. Produces a Porsche GT1 look-alike; gets scolded by Porsche for borrowing the shape. Finds fresh-out-of-college stylist, creates own sub-Esprit-sized mid-engined supercar.

At this stage of the tale we would normally expect to write 'The end', because that's usually what happens with such projects; they fade into obscurity, insufficiently funded and under-endowed with potential customers. And Arash has received plenty of advice to give it all up and get himself a proper job. But in the true spirit of the Colin Chapmans and Peter Wheelers of this world, he's determined to ignore the doomsters, such is his passion for what he's doing.

When we arrive at Farboud's new Cambridge workshop there are three cars in build, and when you see what lies beneath the GTS's carbon-reinforced composite skin you realise just how serious Arash is about doing the job properly. The welding of the steel tube frames attached fore and aft of the aluminium honeycomb central tub is all smoothly finished and the tubes themselves are epoxy-coated; there's Ohlins race-spec pushrod suspension and massive AP Racing discs all-round.

Then there's the engine; built-up from components by Audi race outfit Dialynx, it's based on the V6 unit from the RS4 bored out to 2.8-litres and with a host of fresh internals, a brace of Garrett T25 water-cooled turbos and a Motec engine management system that will help give production models 440bhp - the pre-production car pictured here has 380bhp. (The options list includes an upgrade to 580bhp if you fancy it.) Farboud has even designed its own exhaust-port-to-turbo manifold to improve turbo response.

So far, so promising, especially as the Farboud looks slick and, like a 911, seems such a manageable size. Climbing in and out requires that special low-slung, mid-engined supercar leg and hip shuffle, and it helps (as it does in the Elise) to slide the seat fully back prior to entering or leaving. Once aboard, Sparco seats with bolsters as embracing as a boa constrictor keep you lodged in place. The facia is plain and functional, and this pre-production car boasts the Stack instrument cluster likely to be an option later on. What initially strikes you most about the cabin is the thickness of the A-pillar and the lowness of the windscreen's upper rail; they combine to narrow forward vision considerably, but after a while you don't notice this unless you're trying to exit a busy junction.

To start this car you must first flick a trio of switches - cooling fans, ignition, electric power steering pump. Then you prod the starter button. The Farboud doesn't sound quite like a V6 or a V8 and certainly not like an Audi when it fires up; it makes a potent, precision-machined noise, raw yet not harsh, overlaid with a competition engine's sense of purpose.

There's no doubting what that purpose is when you kick the throttle down - headbanging performance. The Farboud has raging acceleration that subjectively is easily capable of dropping a pursuing 911 - the claimed 0-60mph figure of 3.6 seconds is eminently plausible, but a hint of front-end wander at high speeds brings the 181mph v-max into question.

At low speeds the electrically-assisted power steering is slow to respond and inconsistent of feel, but if you switch it off the helm is too heavy for manoeuvring. Rack up the speed and you can point the Farboud down the road with reasonable accuracy if not all the feedback you might like, given the pace you're travelling at. Switching off the power assistance once you're up and running greatly improves communication but you'll need a bit of strength in your arms if you're to drive like this for long.

Cambridgeshire's roads weren't twisty or empty enough during our time to learn anything meaningful about the handling, but on the cresting 90mph bend we used for our pictures, it felt commendably stable and firmly planted. As for the brakes, well, while the pedal feels slightly mushy, the performance is vicious enough to squish your brain against the inside of your forehead.

Where does the Farboud sit in The Grand Scheme of Things? It's hard to say. At ΂£78,138 it's priced in 911 territory, but even in full production trim it's never likely to have the Porsche's sense of completeness. And it's very noisy.

Arash Farboud knows all this. Only six cars are in the pipeline to be built to this specification, and he's hoping there are half a dozen people out there happy to live with the compromises in exchange for big-hearted performance from a car that's not a Porsche 911.

Meanwhile he's looking at ways to produce the car for a keener price - ditching the Ohlins suspension, for instance, will save about a grand a corner and an off-the-shelf Ford V8 will cost less than the competition-spec Audi engine and meet new emissions regulations. He has his eye on a ΂£50,000 base price - in other words, Noble money - for a car that should look pretty much the same as it does now. Now that really could establish the name of Farboud on the automotive landscape.

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evo RATING

 
[+]
Shows real promise
[-]
Needs finishing

evo SPECIFICATIONS

 
Engine: V6, 2800cc, twin-turbo
Max power: 440bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 350lb ft @ 5500rpm
0 - 60mph: 3.6sec (claimed)
Top speed: 181mph (claimed)
Price: £78,138 (see text)
On Sale: See text (Contact: www.farboud.com)

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