But here’s the amazing bit: it uses the same crank. Despite producing 281bhp more than intended, the main reciprocating component of this engine is up to the task. Peak power comes at 6800rpm and the full 597lb ft of torque at 5000rpm. Silly numbers all of them, but now consider that pre-production cars weigh 1200kg and do the mathematics. It gives a power-to-weight ratio of 534bhp per tonne. A Ferrari Enzo has 476bhp per tonne, a Porsche Carrera GT 410 and the daddy of them all, the McLaren F1, had 551bhp per tonne at its disposal. But that’s a little unrealistic, because the Apollo will weigh nearer 1100kg in production spec, turning 534 into 583bhp per tonne. As Herr Gumpert explains this in his slow, deliberate English I’m all ears, but matters become serene when he says the engine could easily run to 800bhp and that 1000PS, or 986bhp, was a definite possibility.
This is a racing car for the road. There are accurate sketches of how the finished interior will look, but peeking in through the gullwing door you’d have to say that, for the intended market, it might be a shame to alter what it already has. Two bucket seats perched in a carbon tub, which is itself tied into a tubular steel lattice. Being German and very much a motorsport product, the quality is top-notch, even on this early car.
You sit low with the pedal box off-centre (already sorted for the next running car) and a fair amount of intrusion from the wheelarch. The steering wheel is a dinky little Momo item and a Motec digital dash sits behind it. To the right there is the most gorgeous centre console of any supercar: a lump of carbonfibre with row upon row of fuses. People who pay the expected £190,000 for this car will be doing so because of its track focus, and I suspect that many of the interior’s rough edges in this early example might actually be of great appeal. It is currently an office space devised for the business of going very fast. And I like that.
There was no way this car could be fitted with a conventional H-pattern gearbox, and road-optimised sequential gearboxes with a torque rating of 600lb ft are rarer than a short George Galloway insult. So what they’ve come up with is a sequentially operated version of that old supercar chestnut, the Ceema six-speeder. Already doing service in the Pagani Zonda and Lamborghini Murciélago, it’s a game old soldier, but not the slickest ’box. The clutch is heavy but positive and a healthy yank on the lever engages first.Getting a heavily turbocharged V8 off the line with a spikey clutch isn’t easy, but there’s so much torque at idle that you only need a brush of throttle to get it rolling. Today the car is running on slicks with a rear width equivalent to a 345-section tyre’s; road cars will use the excellent Pirelli P Zero Corsa System tyre developed for the Maserati MC12.Even with the benefit of warm, tacky slicks there’s no point in applying a bootful in first gear – the power and torque are just too strong. Half throttle in second and the Gumpert feels Porsche 911 Turbo fast. Make that 911 Turbo S fast.
Into third, and with the confidence to push the long-travel throttle a touch further, and it’s clear that Roland Gumpert’s dyno isn’t lying. The car possesses that rare brand of violent acceleration that makes strapping the timing gear on an exercise in confirmation, and an answer to the one question that matters on planet supercar: will it beat a McLaren F1 from rest to 100mph? It must be very close.
But I’m rubbish with the gearbox, missing downshifts and generally making a fool of myself where racer Andy Wallace had been having no difficulties earlier. I’d apportion the blame for this shambles as follows: 75 per cent me, 25 per cent to the ’box. First, you can’t just wang the lever about as you’d like in the Gumpert: it requires a sensitive touch and almost two movements. Nudge it forward until you can actually feel the beginning of an engagement and only then can you apply a firm strike with the butt of your hand to send the change through.