Mastretta MXT

First taste of Mexico’s potential Lotus Elise rival

Evo rating
Price
from £32,999
  • Price, specification, ergonomics
  • Handling requires more work

Never heard of Mastretta? Don’t worry – before the London motor show we hadn’t either. And small wonder: until now the transport design company founded in Mexico City some 20 years ago by brothers Daniel and Carlos Mastretta has mostly concentrated its efforts on buses. But that could all be about to change.

The MXT (MX for Mexico, T for transverse engine) is the first car to be designed and built in Mexico, and on paper it has hardware underpinnings to worry the establishment. Mastretta is only the third manufacturer (after Lotus and Panoz) to create an extruded and bonded aluminium chassis, although here it comes with a carbon composite floor and a rear section of chrome-molybdenum steel.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

The car we’ve been granted access to is a pre-production prototype and there’s still a fair chunk of work to be completed before it goes on sale in 2009, not least replacing the 170bhp turbocharged four-cylinder VW unit that currently sits amidships with a Cosworth-tuned 240bhp 2-litre Ford Duratec motor. The brakes, wheels and interior will all change too, so our drive – at the Bedford Autodrome because the car isn’t yet road legal – serves mainly to set the scene and give us a flavour of what’s to come.

Its size and looks are a good start. It’s five inches wider than an Elise and a tad longer too, but you’d be hard pushed to tell. The lines have the kind of taut compactness that suggests lightness and purpose, and indeed the MXT will weigh around 900kg and have a top speed of 150mph with a sub-5sec 0-60mph time.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Climbing aboard requires about the same effort as getting into a Mondeo, and the driving position and general ergonomics are just so. The seats you see here will be junked in favour of Recaro items and the dash will be a digital affair, but the fact that the basics hit the mark suggests the final outcome should work well.

The suspension will be revised too, which is good because as it stands some further work is needed. It’s soft – probably to cope with potholed Mexican tarmac – making the car feel a little slow-witted on track and its rear-end too inclined to load up and squat down. The steering’s a mite meatier than expected too, making the MXT feel heavier than it should; the brilliant intimate detail served up by an Elise isn’t there yet. An extensive programme of development is planned, though, and our hope is that the finished article will have a more delicate, lightweight race-car feel, particularly as the MXT is aimed squarely at the road and occasional trackday market.

Priced at £32,999 the MXT should represent good value, so we’ll be watching its progress with interest, as, we expect, will Lotus.

Specifications

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/toyota/yaris/201932/toyota-yaris-gr-4-hot-hatchback-teased-successor-to-the-grmn-and-a-true-wrc
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris GR-4 hot hatchback teased – successor to the GRMN and a true WRC homologation special

6 Nov 2019
Visit/audi/r8/201931/entry-level-audi-r8-v10-rwd-added-to-the-range
Audi R8

Entry-level Audi R8 V10 RWD added to the range

6 Nov 2019
Visit/bmw/m2/201929/track-only-bmw-m2-cs-racing-unveiled
BMW M2

Track-only BMW M2 CS Racing unveiled 

6 Nov 2019
Visit/volvo/v90
Volvo V90 estate

2019 Volvo V90 T6 R-design review - the great estate?

5 Nov 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/alfa-romeo/21322/alfa-romeo-to-launch-new-700bhp-8c-and-600bhp-gtv-coupe
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo culls sports car programme in wake of FCA merger

Italian’s future performance models killed off in favour of more profitable SUVs
11 Nov 2019
Visit/caterham/201924/caterham-620r-v-ariel-atom-35-v-elemental-rp1
Caterham

Caterham 620R v Ariel Atom 3.5 v Elemental Rp1

Flight Club - lightweight track day toys with heavyweight powertrains, Steve Sutcliffe compares them on track at Anglesey circuit in Wales
5 Nov 2019
Visit/maserati/granturismo/201792/maserati-granturismo-zeda-run-out-model-revealed
Maserati GranTurismo

Maserati GranTurismo Zéda run-out model revealed

It’s out with the old, in with the new as the final GranTurismo paves the way for Maserati’s ambitious electrified future
12 Nov 2019
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019