The business of building and selling supercars isn’t what you’d call a high-percentage game. It’s generally a domain where only brands backed by major conglomerates prosper in. For starters, these corporate-owned marques are almost invariably the only ones with the requisite financial reserves to do a proper job of developing and marketing the cars. They also have the necessary R&D facilities and resources — access to wind tunnels, proving grounds, shared componentry etc — to ensure the finished product ticks all the boxes in terms of durability, everyday usability, safety, refinement, fit/finish and, obviously, performance and dynamics.
So, it’s only the brave (or foolish) who attempt to go this route as standalones. Plenty have tried and failed, with only Pagani and Koenigsegg standing out as success stories in this heavy-horsepower arena ruled by the likes of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. The odds against making it in this caper might be extremely slim, but that hasn’t deterred Dubai-based W Motors from tossing its hat in the ring. The first example of their handiwork was the jewel-encrusted Lykan HyperSport, which shot to fame via its starring role in the Hollywood blockbuster Furious 7, as well as being featured in a raft of video games.
However, where the Lykan was an ultra-low-volume offering (just six units sold), its upcoming Fenyr SuperSport successor is a more ‘mass-market’ proposition, with W Motors CEO Ralph Debbas (see interview on page 21) targeting 110 sales for the imminent hypercar, which will cost each of their prospective owners about Dh5.2m. That’s a lot of moolah, but what do you actually get for it?
Here’s the deal: as per the Lykan, the Fenyr was developed and engineered by celebrated Porsche tuner Ruf Automobile, and the heart of the car is Porsche-derived. Sitting directly aft of the passenger cell — but forward of the rear axle — is a 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six motor (not dissimilar to the unit you’d find in a 911 Turbo). However, the Ruf brainiacs have tweaked it to thump out a monstrous 800bhp and 980Nm, which is channelled to the rear wheels via a PDK dual-clutch gearbox. The chassis has also been engineered by Ruf and the massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes are standard supercar fare. On paper, all good so far. The Fenyr also looks the business. With more sharp edges than a drawer full of kitchen knives, the SuperSport has a distinctly Lambo Aventador-esque aggression about it.
This wheels scribe had the opportunity to have a brief drive in a Fenyr prototype, and the car prompted much rubbernecking from other motorists as we rumbled past. Eyeball-smacking it most certainly is, but scrutinise it closely and it’s evident the standard of fit/finish is well short of what you’d get in a Lambo/Ferrari/Porsche/etc. That said, this is a prototype, so one must make some allowance for that. The proposed 110-vehicle build run of the Fenyr will be carried out by Magna Steyr, and, if you’re up to scratch on your car industry knowledge, you’ll know this Austrian manufacturer has solid credentials as it currently builds the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar E-Pace and I-Pace, among other vehicles.
Seeing as I was pedalling the only functional prototype in existence, it obviously wasn’t prudent to redline the sinister black projectile in every gear or have the thing leaning on its door handles through corners. Nevertheless, on the few occasions where I could give it a squirt, the Fenyr accelerated with vigour. Does it feel Aventador fast? W Motors makes big claims of the car — 0-100kph in 2.7sec and a top whack of 400kph — but my first impression is that these numbers sound optimistic.
That said, I hadn’t had the opportunity to properly give it the beans, so there could be reserves there that I hadn’t tapped. Bear in mind that peak torque only comes on stream at 4,100rpm and max power at 7,100rpm, so this is an engine that delivers its best in the upper half of the rev range — a zone that I didn’t really get to explore (on traffic-infested Dubai roads) for any sustained period.
Earplugs might be a good option with the Fenyr because there’s a tremendous racket in the car — the twin-turbo flat-six is plain raucous. Debbas says they opted to put a straight-through exhaust system on the Fenyr to give it a unique sonic signature. It certainly has that, but I wouldn’t want to listen to that drone all day. However, production-spec versions will also have a quieter mode activated via switchable flaps in the exhaust, so that will be a welcome addition.
The Fenyr’s cabin is purposeful and lined in carbon fibre (or at least something that mimics it), but any aspirations of being premium are thwarted by the wiper/indicator stalks and switchgear. Not quite up to the mark for a Dh5m-plus car.
The low roofline blocks the upper half of your forward vision — even though I’m not that tall at 1.72m — but this isn’t really a problem once on the go. The stuff you need to see is all happening much lower.
There’s something to be admired about the audacity of a start-up firm that has the cojones to take on the big boys in a cutthroat business. The W Motors Fenyr SuperSport has some appealing design elements, and the fact that Ruf Automobile and Magna Steyr have lent their weight to their project gives it some credibility. There will doubtless be at least some cashed-up buyers out there who will be willing to splash out a cool five million for Fenyr SuperSport, based purely on the car’s uniqueness and wow factor. But, for the most part, we anticipate it will be a tough sell.
Interview with Ralph Debbas CEO, W Motors
The Lykan HyperSport — famous for its role in the Hollywood blockbuster Furious 7 — was the first supercar to be designed and produced in the Middle East, but its creators, Dubai-based W Motors, are now preparing to commence deliveries of a successor model dubbed the Fenyr SuperSport. We sat down with company CEO Ralph Debbas to delve into the W Motors ethos and find out more about their latest offering...
What are the key differences between the Fenyr SuperSport and the Lykan HyperSport that you launched in 2013?
It’s very different. Fenyr is a six-year evolution of the Lykan and it’s been designed and engineered as a performance vehicle. The Lykan was also a high-performance car, but it focused more on luxury and lifestyle. With the Fenyr we’re building 110 cars — rather than just seven, as was the case with the Lykan — and it’s priced much more reasonably at $1.4m (Dh5.2m), compared to $3.4m for the Lykan. It’s full carbon fibre and is 250kg lighter than the Lykan. We no longer have the hologram and the ‘concierge’ and the diamond lights. It’s pure naked carbon inside, with just a steering wheel, paddles and infotainment screen. So, we kept everything to a minimum, and evolved the engine to put out 800bhp. There’s also all-new electronics, and we studied aerodynamics much more than we did in the Lykan, which means the Fenyr can hold its own on a racetrack, even though it’s meant to be driven as an everyday car.
How much real-world testing has the car been subjected to?
We started testing in mid-2017 and the prototype now has 7,000km on it. They’ve been hard kilometres, as the car has been driven at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as in heavy heat at Homestead Raceway in Miami — we completed six hours of driving on the track in 38-degree temperatures and high humidity. More recently we’re doing more inner-city testing to evaluate the performance on the street. There will be two drive modes — essentially a Comfort mode for everyday driving, and a Race mode for track sessions. We’re ready to deliver customer cars from next month, but we’ll continue to carry out internal testing so we can improve further generations of the car.
What sort of warranty and aftersales service will the Fenyr SuperSport be backed by?
We’re giving a five-year warranty and five-year service contract but launch editions will be covered by a 10-year warranty and 10-year service contract. So, for 10 years you don’t have to worry about anything. We take care of it all. Customers can either bring their cars back to our showroom here in City Walk, or get them serviced via our distributors in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates. We also have distributors throughout the GCC.
How personally involved did you get in the creation and execution of this car?
I’m involved in everything. From the concept creation to the final execution. I’m not an engineer myself but over the past 12 years I’ve learned everything we need to do that. I’m a designer, so I provide the guidelines for the design, but I remain personally involved in every stage of the engineering process.
Why did you choose Ruf and Magna Steyr as your technology partners?
Magna Steyr is the biggest automotive engineering firm in the world, so there’s no way to not be involved with them, especially given that we were launching a car from the Middle East. We needed their credibility and the know-how, plus the quality that they could bring to the product. It took a few years of chasing as they’re a multinational firm with half a million employees, and we started out as company that was building seven cars. They (Magna Steyr) were the biggest asset we had at the beginning as they have a 100-year history of engineering cars. The Ruf tie-up was pure coincidence as I met Alois Ruf in 2006 and subsequently drove one of their cars (the Ruf CTR3). I was so blown away by its performance that I couldn’t believe it was powered by a six-cylinder engine. From that point on I knew we had to make our car with this engine. It’s not just the performance, but also the sound and the fact that it feels so alive. We became the first external company in 80 years to have a Ruf platform and engine as they normally only build their own cars.
What’s next to come from W Motors?
Next year we’ll be launching a $300,000 (Dh1.1m) car that will be built in much higher volumes than the Lykan and Fenyr. These two were more about emotion, passion and brand-building, but the next car will reach a much bigger audience. We also have a more mass-market brand in the form of Iconiq Motors, which is based in China and will be building 100,000 pure-electric cars from next year. These will be solely for the Chinese market initially, but they still have the W Motors DNA in their design. In time we will branch out to complete assembly here in the UAE for the European and Middle East markets. However, W Motors will always remain our flagship brand that embodies all the passion we have for cars.