Small start-up sports car companies have a strong reputation for having short lifespans. There seems to be a huge number of people who feel it would be great to design and build there own car that breaks away from the monotony of the large sale manufacturers. The trouble is, developing a reliable, safe car with a well tuned chassis and ergonomic interior is very expensive. Even the bigger boys sometimes struggle with it, that’s why you increasingly see platform sharing not just within one company but across brands. Trying to do the same thing yourself in a suburban business park is more often than not a recipe for disaster and modern expectations of reliability, safety and equipment levels making it ever more difficult.
The Trident Magna Roadster seems likely to fit to this mould perfectly. Even in the press pictures the fit and finish has a slightly wonky look to it (the registration suggests this is a 2 year old prototype). The shut-lines look worryingly variable and the interior switch-gear is so unevenly spaced that it looks like it was thrown together in a hurry. In actual fact they started work in 2006 and it is only now that they have been able to connect the funding, manufacturing capabilities and pre-orders to put their car into production.
The Trident concept is to produce a powerful yet economical muscle car by dropping a large diesel V8 into a lightweight chassis. Eight years ago the original concept might have appealed to the environmentally aware sports car owner but in a year when BMW is introducing its space-age hybrid i8 sports car and Porsche are toying with the same clever technology in their 918 hypercar a big diesel engine is looking as much of a dinosaur as anything else in you average car park. The BMW is clever, fast and agile, it is amazingly economical, runs almost silently on electric power but thrilling to drive when you want it to be. It looks like it comes from the future rather than the past and is built with the computer precision you would expect. Most importantly it has been painstakingly engineered and tested over thousands of miles in all conditions to provide a car that is as happy running around town or taking long distance tours as it is on short blasts through country roads.
The Trident aim to combat this by building each car to the tailor-made specifications of the customer while keeping the mechanics straight forward. The engine is a stock GM unit giving huge torque that means it can amble along at low revs with surprising economy but with power on-tap for more spirited driving. It will be interesting to see how well they have tuned the engine noise for roadster driving. The price is £96,000 GBP which puts it neatly in range of the more predictable Porsche 911 as well as the Jaguar F-Type and the new BMW i8 mentioned earlier. We wish them luck. Buyers looking to take a gamble may be attracted to the styling which is reminiscent to the now deceased TVR.