“My oh my. It’s quite something to behold, isn’t it?” I think to myself. I still can’t believe that I’m actually looking at thisw thing. It’s been teased, speculated, almost revealed and revised, but this actually is the real Saminda C2000R.
Almost. Saminda still haven’t quite given me the full car. Instead, we have the special version that set the Nurburgring record for a hot-hatch last year. Just your usual roadtest then.
Of course it isn’t. Most of the automotive world has been waited for this car, and I am one of those people. Meaning that when I settle into the bucket seats and put my hand on the steering wheel, I simply cannot contain my excitement. The man beside me in the passenger seat is an anonymous driver for Saminda. He’s been tasked with getting this car to Chambéry Airport for its flight back to Japan. The security around this car is so tight that they aren’t using Geneva International, which is actually next to the Palexpo and is far more convenient.
I’m not complaining though. He’s letting me drive this thing for a short part of this drive, and that’s all that matters. I don’t even mind that it’s 2:33 am and absolutely freezing. I start her up - wow - and the noise is just electrifying. Weird, because it’s a standard hot-hatch power unit in the form of a 2.0l i4. But there’s something about this one that is a little more exciting. I taxi the car slowly out of the parking spot and we head straight for the French border.
Something about the danger of this just makes it a little more exciting. Yet the car itself also feel dangerous; you have to be ready when the turbo’s kick in, it’s like being hit in the chest with a bowling ball. They spool up at 3500 rpm, surprisingly low given the 368 hp this engine delivers overall. Needless to say, you really can feel it. Combined with the RWD system, the C2KR is good for 0-60 in 4.0s and a top speed of over 180 mph.
This is, it should be stressed, is not the final production version, but if the final version is anything like this car, I’ll be satisfied. We blitz through France towards Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, before turning off onto the D991, a twisty route that follows a river valley down to Chambéry. Excellent.
The C2KR is, in short, sharp. Very sharp. Razor sharp. It feels more akin to a race car, responding absolutely immediatley to any input you give it. But it also feels alive; there’s a lot of electric gear on this car, most of which I “can’t know about just yet” according to my accomplice, yet it doesn’t feel like a laptop. Rather, you get the impression that the whole car is working to stop you from crashing, which you are constantly aware that it is very capable of.
Dab the breaks - you do not need to work them very hard - drop a gear and flick the wheel, and you can very easily get this thing to slide. It’s not always keen to do that, thankfully, and can be tamed with enough skill. On the occasional switchback corners of this road, you’re able to fully appreciate how lively this car is, and thus just how much potential it has.
It’s also absolutle solid through the corners. The suspension is hard, to say the least. Not rough, it’s been tuned well and adjusts itself almost constantly thanks to its electronic parts. But that rock-solid feel allows it to corner almost flat every time. The grip too is astounding, but not without its limits, and the sooner you learn that the better.
The impression I really got with this car was a need for skill. Taming it isn’t too hard, it’s using it that really challenges you. But that challenge will be exactly what makes this car a success - at least we think - when it goes on sale.
We arrive at Chambéry Airport, and my first time with the C2KR is over. The car is quickly whisked onto the apron and into a cargo plane, almost looking more like a military operation than just car transport. And that’s it, the car is gone and I won’t see it for some time now.
But if you are wondering, and I’ve a fair bet you do, yes, the C2KR is just about everything you’d expect it to be. Lightning fast, slightly terrifying and masterfully well made. I’ve no doubt that it’s going to set the automotive world alight when it arrives, whenever that is.