Miche­lin Chal­lenge Ven­turi is the fu­ture

This ex­otic two-seater takes trac­tion con­trol to a whole new level

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News - KARLA PIN­COTT

karla.pin­cott@cars­guide.com.au ONE look at the Ven­turi Vo­lage is enough to tell you it’s some­thing out of the or­di­nary, even among the crowd of cut­ting-edge cars at Miche­lin Chal­lenge Biben­dum in Ber­lin.

You’d ex­pect that from the for­merly French man­u­fac­turer that made its name in the ’ 80s with track-bred cars and now af­ter a bank­ruptcy and res­cue is based in Monaco with a fo­cus on al­ter­na­tive tech­nol­ogy.

But the Vo­lage, un­veiled at the 2008 Paris mo­tor show and slated for sale in 2013, even tops the brand’s so­lar-elec­tric hy­brid Astrolab and so­lar/wind­pow­ered Eclec­tic con­cepts.

What’s spe­cial about this ex­otic two-seater is not the Tron-like styling but the wheels, each of which holds two elec­tric mo­tors— a 55kW one to drive the wheel while the other is an ac­tive sus­pen­sion mo­tor that con­trols trac­tion, torque dis­tri­bu­tion and all the damp­ing.

Out on the test track this meant it han­dled like it was pinned to rails, staying flat through high-speed cor­ner­ing, brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion that made the most of the to­tal 220kW/232Nm out­puts.

It’s the lat­est ver­sion of Miche­lin’s Ac­tive Wheel con­cept, but the first time a brand has planned to put it into pro­duc­tion and hinted at it spread­ing into other mod­els.

‘‘ The Vo­lage will be very lim­ited, and the price will be also very ex­clu­sive,’’ Ven­turi’s Cle­ment Do­rance says. ‘‘ It will be only for those who want some­thing so spe­cial in a per­for­mance car, but yes, we will think also about this in a saloon. This is the fu­ture.’’

There’s no sim­i­lar sales fu­ture planned for the other two stand-out ex­otics at Chal­lenge Biben­dum: the Peu­geot EX1 and Citroen Sur­volt.

But the new-age Bat­mo­bile that is the EX1 is al­ready get­ting the chance to prove it­self on the track, hav­ing bro­ken a Nur­bur­gring record a few weeks ago.

Don’t get too ex­cited— it was the fastest time for an elec­tric car, but at just over nine min­utes for the 20.8km lap it’s still more than two min­utes be­hind the petrol cars.

Un­der the car­bon-fi­bre body are two mo­tors, one on each axle, en­abling a 0-100km/h time of about 3.5sec with the elec­tric sig­na­ture of torque on tap from start.

There’s a sim­i­lar surge off the line in the Sur­volt, but with only 224kW from its pair of elec­tric mo­tors it’s a good sec­ond be­hind the Pug in get­ting to 100km/h, and there’s an odd and un­pleas­ant noise from the un­der­car­riage as it winds up.

While we’re all for the usu­ally silent elec­tric cars warn­ing pedes­tri­ans on ap­proach, this wouldn’t be our pick for a sound­track and is some­thing Citroen will have to work on if they use the Sur­volt tech­nol­ogy as they’ve hinted for a smaller pro­duc­tion model.

Out of the or­di­nary: The Ven­turi Vo­lage and Citroen Sur­volt (left)

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