14th of 20
Car: Erwin Nardella Mk2
Today began with a strong cup of black coffee after a small hiatus from reviewing. But today was the day. The day I’d be testing out the Erin Nardella Mk2.
I began by glancing over the spec sheet. An undersquare 2 liter turbo was the engine of choice for this very classic, possibly British, looking 2 seater. It claimed 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds, maxing out at 145mph. Not bad for a 45MPG coupe with a price tag of under $27k. My curiosity was sparked and I headed out for a test drive.
As I walked up to the vehicle, I was taken aback first by the color. I was sure it was black from far away, but it turned out to be very dark green; A very subdued, classy green, suiting the styling quite well; Like wearing a dark green suit to a black tie event. I was ready to hop in. Unfortunately, the classy feel did not continue inside. The interior was intentionally made to remind you this was a car under $30k. While the seats and finishes were just average, the stereo and infotainment system were sub-par. GPS was left off, the Bluetooth was flaky, and no USB port. Really? And while we’re on things you don’t get, add Traction, Stability, and Launch assists to that list. On the flip side, there are airbags everywhere and the seat belts were phenomenal!
So I was ready for a drive. I turned the key (No push button start), and the peppy engine fired right up with delight; like a labradoodle when you first walk through the door. The exhaust note was classy and throaty, matching the car’s exterior theme quite well, despite it being a turbo 4. I put the manual in first, and took off. My first thought when grabbing the shifter was how well put together it felt, short throws and tight clutch. But this shortly became a sore point. Well, the gears are so close together. Why? And the overdrive keeps the RPMs at speed way too high, also limiting top speed via gear ratios. Again, why? 3rd barely gets you to 60MPH. This does make it quite easy to burn rubber and makes this a good auto crossing car. The little turbo is fully spooled by 2300RPMs, though only provides 8.7psi of boost. While the torque curve is fairly broad and useful, there’s not a whole lot of raw output. I am guessing they were trying to compensate with the transmission?
After driving through town a bit, I got out on to the open road with some twisties. The car instantly came into it’s own. This is a great drift car! The fully adjustable active sport suspension, the low ride height, the skinny tires, the perfect amount of power and weight, the front engine/RWD layout. All of it screamed drift car. But of course, with good eco stats to please the Green Goddess. The brakes were good, but not great. They seemed to overpower the tires, then show a hint of fade, but they did the job while being fairly front/rear balanced.
So the Erin Nardella Mk2 was a mixed bag of tricks. On one side, you get a very high tech suspension, but then you get low tech brakes and skinny sticky tires. You get great gas mileage and a usable power curve, but then strange gearing for daily use. In a nutshell, it seems someone tried to hide a track car inside of an eco-friendly businessman’s coupe. It’s intoxicating like straight, black coffee. It’s bitter yet low calorie, and I want to drink it every day!
The Efficient Future Rank: 14th/20 @ 1389.1 points
Summary: Great Fuel Economy, Very Low Price, Eco-Friendlyness, and Good Track Times moved it up the ranks! But the car was held back by relatively low drivability, comfort, and prestige. While sporty, it wasn’t sporty enough to get a significant point boost here.
Carskick’s Overall Subjective Score: 7.5/10
Summary: I’m a sucker for small roadsters for fun. I also love that you can have a great time in this car while being eco friendly. But the quirky infotainment system, mediocre interior, wonky gears, and low practicality limit this to more of a weekend car than a daily driver. For those who want a true traditional driving experience with modern efficiency and low cost, this is your car!