There’s a new lightweight, manual British sports car – and no, it’s not a Lotus. It’s called the Vertige, by new British start-up Wells Motor Cars, and it’s making its debut this week at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Wells Vertige follows the Lotus Elise‘s formula almost to a T, in it that values lightweightness more than anything else. Built on super-stiff steel monocoque topped with tubular steel roll-cage, the Vertige weighs just 850 kg all-in. That’s almost 210 kg lighter than the Mazda MX-5, while occupying about the same footprint.

Power comes from a Ford-sourced 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine mounted behind the passenger compartment, pushing 211 hp and 209 Nm to the rear wheels. And yes, it only comes with a manual gearbox.

Oddly, the all-new Lotus Emira is bigger and heavier than the Elise and Exige it supposedly replaces. What happened to ‘simplify, then add lightness’?

While the figure sounds mediocre by today’s standards, the Vertige also weighs a lot less than cars these days, so it’ll still have pretty solid performance – and the numbers back it up. Century sprint is completed in under five seconds, and with the accelerator pinned to the floor, the Wells Vertige will reach a top speed of 225 km/h.

Not too shabby, but the Vertige was never built for straight line races. Just like the Lotus, the super lightweight sports car finds itself most comfortable around the corner, with a set of bespoke cast-aluminium double-wishbones on both ends that even allows you to adjust the toe and camber settings.

The focus on simplicity and drivability continues inside, which you enter through the McLaren-esque dihedral doors. The cabin is refreshingly simple, with an analogue instrument cluster, hand-cranked window knob, leather upholstery, and an Alcantara-topped dashboard reminding you of the good ol’ days.

Also making its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the experimental dual-motor Polestar 2. Check it out here!

But simple doesn’t mean sparse, as the Wells Vertige still offers a vast majority of modern features that buyers expect to find in a new car in 2021. There’s a seven-inch Sony touchscreen head unit that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Connectivity, USB ports, and even a heater that comes standard with the car (it’s designed in gloomy England, after all). Air conditioning is part of the extra-cost options, however.

The Wells Vertige starts at GBP45,000 (~RM259k) before options, and will be hand-built to order in England – which means if you have a deep enough pocket, you can work directly with the company to create a bespoke unit just for yourself.

Series production is planned for the future and will be done in batches at the firm’s new factory in Itchington, Warwickshire, limited to just 25 cars per year to maintain exclusivity. The first batch of seven have all already been sold to founder Robin Wells’ “friends and family”.


GALLERY