Fancy going behind the scenes of a €2.3m Italian supercar’s launch? Come on, then...
You can get fully up to speed on the man – and madness - behind the new 769bhp Apollo Intensa Emozione by checking out our big news breakdown story here. Digested that? Good. Now here are a few more observations from the car’s first moment in public…
1. You take no chances with Italian supercars…
Yes, here are two gentlemen hurrying behind the stand on the morning of the Apollo IE’s reveal, both clutching a fire extinguisher. Because even when a V12-powered Italian supercar is marooned on a plinth, you can’t totally rule out the possibility it’ll extravagantly combust without warning. It didn’t. However
2. The car runs…quite rich
Once the covers were off the Apollo, we wanted to hear what a naturally aspirated 769bhp V12 shouting into a laser-printed exhaust sounds like. Apollo’s guys obliged, and – at the second time of asking – the engine yelped into life. Might need some tweaks to the fuel mix though, judging by the exhaust…
3. These two cars aren’t part of the ten-strong production run
Apollo plans to build ten Intensa Emozione coupes at €2.3m a pop, before personalisation. Each car takes around four months to complete. The two you see here, however, aren’t part of the production run and aren’t being sold either. These are the prototypes, for track testing and showing off what’s possible in the bespoke dress-up box. The black/red version is soon to head off on an Asian tour, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re passing through China.
4. The chairman is not your usual company supremo
This is Norman Choi. He’s the investor and businessman with a love of Nineties GT1 racing who’s bought up the carcass of Gumpert to turn its successor, Apollo, into his vision of an exciting new pin-up supercar. He’s 45 years old (yes, really), and he’s as hands-on as car company bosses get. Not only is Norman cheerfully able to recall any fact or figure he’s quizzed on about the car without prompting, but he mucks in at the reveal. He’s dashing around with an SLR camera taking photos. He’s helping folks disembark the driver’s seat of his creation. A down-to-Earth chap, then.
5. Don’t pull paddles when you think the car is switched off
So obviously, I had to have a sit. Perch on the enormous carbon sill, thread legs under the dash one by one, and then settle into the fixed, moulded seat. The pedals and steering wheel adjust for each driver, but sadly this one had been set up for an Ewok, so I didn’t really fit. I prodded a few buttons, noted that the digital dashboard wasn’t just a sticker but did indeed function, and idly pulled the upshift paddle. Bad move.
The Apollo was still awake from its smokey rev-off, and the pneumatic gearbox remained armed. The whipcrack of a pneumatic racing ‘box firing amidst a tranquil static showcase event is not subtle. Fortunately the car wasn’t damaged and everyone who fainted from the shock is expected to make a full recovery.
6. The IE is partly made of wood…
So, not quite all-carbon, then. The front splitter’s skidplates are made from jabroc wood, which is the same material that F1 cars used to use for the ‘plank’ inlaid into the floor to check the ride height wasn’t being cheated. F1 cars have now switched to titanium to create TV-friendly sparks. Apollo decided not to copy that. Boo.
7. …and has old-school hydraulic power steering
Yep, because ‘feel’. Which is a bit weird for a track-day hyper-toy, really. Racecars don’t really need bucking, kicking, feelsome steering, because that fatigues the driver. So Apollo could’ve quite understandably gone for electric power steering for its track-only debut. But instead, they’ve plumbed in old-school hydraulic assistance, for its extra texture and feedback.
8. The tech is a long way from old-school, though.
The Apollo has three engine maps, with Wet, Sport and Track settings for metering out the V12’s fury. Weird, though, right? It’s a track car, with two engine maps not specifically set up for, um, tracks. Not to worry. The traction control is extremely trick, with 12 separate settings to adjust the size of the crash you’d like to have.
9. Its exhaust is a 3D laser printed and costs over £60,000
Clearly set to be something of an Apollo signature, much like Pagani’s stacked quadruple pipes, the Apollo’s three-way exhaust is properly outrageous. The 3D laser-printed titanium component costs, according to Choi, the same as a new BMW M4, which is about £60,000 at the current rate. Choi notes that Lamborghini’s Aventador S and the new McLaren P15 also have triple-exhausts, but reckons none are as light or expensive as his…
10. Yes, like the old Gumpert, it can ‘drive on the ceiling’
No-one’s ever, ever going to test one of these ‘more downforce than weight’ claims, which means even a Kia Picanto could purport to driving on the ceiling and no-one would be any the wiser. Granted, the Apollo’s claim looks more plausible though. It’s said to weigh 1,250kg, and develop 1,350kg of ‘net’ downforce, which means the amount of downforce actually generated once any natural lift is subtracted.
So sure, at 300kph this thing generates more aerodynamic negative lift than it weighs, so it could to the Men In Black drive-down-a-tunnel-ceiling-thing. The campaign to talk one of the ten owners into giving it a go starts here…