New Wiesmann Project Thunderball prototype review
We try out Wiesmann’s all-electric Project Thunderball ahead of its official arrival
Sitting outside Wiesmann’s Gecko factory, Project Thunderball (still a codename, but getting increasingly familiar) has all the hallmarks of a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports car: a long bonnet, the cabin set well back towards the rear wheels, beautiful bodywork made from carbon fibre, with what’s set to be a retractable rear spoiler, and some exquisite detailing.
In fact, it looks pretty production-ready from the quality, although there’s still plenty of engineering and detail work to be done, a new design of steering wheel to be fitted and software for the touchscreen to be finalised (although we are told it will be ready to receive over-the-air updates).
Thunderball’s stats already look good. Sitting within the skateboard chassis, which uses 800V architecture for rapid charging at up to 300kW, is a 92kWh battery with a targeted range of 310 miles – weight is targeted at 1,700kg. It’ll instantly become the quickest Wiesmann, too, with 671bhp and 1,100Nm of torque giving a predicted 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds, while the cost is expected to be around £260,000.
A power button has replaced the start button and the churn of a starter motor followed by the thunderous bellow of a BMW V8 have gone, replaced by clicks and whirrs as the more obviously prototype electric powertrain kicks into action.
The performance potential is instantly noticeable with an enticing kick of acceleration accompanied by more clicks and whirrs as the electric power system does its stuff, transferring power to the rear wheels. We suspect that noise might be changed for production, but we quite like the sound, although it’ll never replace a V8’s roar.
The steering of the prototype feels overly light compared with previous Wiesmann models, but has an enjoyable directness to it. Similarly, the ride quality feels considerably firmer than on the older cars and not something we’d enjoy on UK roads. Hopefully Wiesmann will inject a bit more of the previous models’ firmer steering and a more refined ride into the Thunderball before production.
The car corners confidently and changes direction quickly, while the paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to have fun playing with the regenerative braking effort, although that, too, needs tuning.
On our first outing, Thunderball shows much promise. The quality impresses and, with some deft engineering tweaks, it could be another car that demonstrates how an EV can be seriously good fun.
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