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Road Tes

TesT No 49351/2
T
he voice at the other end of when at least 18 man hours have
the phone said, “The lads been burned up in creating the Top
are going to build a car Gear Car To Save The World. The car

hammerhead eagle i-Thrust


which, they believe, might you see here – officially called the
just help save the world.” It Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust – is the
belonged to Andy Wilman, eventual fruit of this labour.
executive producer of a programme Like the Chevrolet Volt, the i-Thrust
you might just have seen on TV called is a range-extender hybrid, with its
Steve Sutcliffe'
static-packed s’
Top Gear; the lads, of course, being wheels driven solely by an electric
Britain’s Chevrolet Volt rival combines challenging looks and dangerous handling Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond. motor. Believe it or not, it’s fully road
“Righto,” we replied. “And where legal and, apart from its occasionally action slacks
does Autocar fit into this plan?” functional diesel generator, is also
Model tested Prototype “We’d like your magazine, as the virtually emissions-free. The i-Thrust meet i -Thrust's
l Price na l Power 85kW (claimed) l torque na l 0-30mph 6.0sec undisputed voice of record on such started life as a healthy TVR Chimaera (very) live wiring.
l Fuel economy na l Co2 emissions na l 30-0mph 168 metres l skidpan 0.408g things, to road test it,” said Wilman.
That was three months ago, since
and has since been re-registered as a
van, hence its temporary legality. ◊
Contact!
We like Back-to-basics simplicity l Innovative seating layout l Low running costs We don’t like Treacherous handling l Poor performance l Short range l Dire build quality
as seeN oN

TV
PHotoGRAPHY david shepperd

1 the i-thrust’s exterior fittings have


a back-to-basics, shed-inspired
theme. door bolts are easy to open
2 double wishbone
suspension promises
sporty handling, but rear
3 Headlight units have been ‘appropriated’ from
an old Fiat Panda. it’s not known whether Fiat
gave permission for this, but the italian maker would
4 three-pin plug makes it easy
to charge the i-thrust at the
roadside. or at least, it would if it were
5 interior switchgear is a mix of bits that could have
been found in a back-street mechanic’s bottom
drawer. exposed (live) wiring is a notable highlight.
6 You’re reminded of the car’s tVR Chimaera
underpinnings by the steering wheel. it’s
a nice sporting touch in an otherwise totally
7 Pedals are offset but otherwise easy to use. the
brake feel is pretty rubbish thanks to the pump-
assisted brake system, but at least it does stop. As
from outside and slightly more wheel travel is limited certainly benefit from the brand synergies. connected to anything on the inside. unsporting car. for the clutch, er…
difficult (though not impossible, by the car’s unusual And if charging didn’t take half a day.
strangely) when you’re locked in. weight distribution.

]] WWW.AUtoCAR.Co.Uk 25 NOVEMBER 2009 25 NOVEMBER 2009 WWW.AUtoCAR.Co.UK


Road TesT No 49351/2
T
he voice at the other end of when at least 18 man hours have
the phone said, “The lads been burned up in creating the Top
are going to build a car Gear Car To Save The World. The car

hammerhead eagle i-Thrust


which, they believe, might you see here – officially called the
just help save the world.” It Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust – is the
belonged to Andy Wilman, eventual fruit of this labour.
executive producer of a programme Like the Chevrolet Volt, the i-Thrust
you might just have seen on TV called is a range-extender hybrid, with its
Steve Sutcliffe'
static-packed s’
Top Gear; the lads, of course, being wheels driven solely by an electric
Britain’s Chevrolet Volt rival combines challenging looks and dangerous handling Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond. motor. Believe it or not, it’s fully road
“Righto,” we replied. “And where legal and, apart from its occasionally action slacks
does Autocar fit into this plan?” functional diesel generator, is also
Model tested Prototype “We’d like your magazine, as the virtually emissions-free. The i-Thrust meet i -Thrust's
l Price na l Power 85kW (claimed) l torque na l 0-30mph 6.0sec undisputed voice of record on such started life as a healthy TVR Chimaera (very) live wiring.
l Fuel economy na l Co2 emissions na l 30-0mph 168 metres l skidpan 0.408g things, to road test it,” said Wilman.
That was three months ago, since
and has since been re-registered as a
van, hence its temporary legality. ◊
Contact!
We like Back-to-basics simplicity l Innovative seating layout l Low running costs We don’t like Treacherous handling l Poor performance l Short range l Dire build quality
as seeN oN

TV
PHotoGRAPHY david shepperd

1 the i-thrust’s exterior fittings have


a back-to-basics, shed-inspired
theme. door bolts are easy to open
2 double wishbone
suspension promises
sporty handling, but rear
3 Headlight units have been ‘appropriated’ from
an old Fiat Panda. it’s not known whether Fiat
gave permission for this, but the italian maker would
4 three-pin plug makes it easy
to charge the i-thrust at the
roadside. or at least, it would if it were
5 interior switchgear is a mix of bits that could have
been found in a back-street mechanic’s bottom
drawer. exposed (live) wiring is a notable highlight.
6 You’re reminded of the car’s tVR Chimaera
underpinnings by the steering wheel. it’s
a nice sporting touch in an otherwise totally
7 Pedals are offset but otherwise easy to use. the
brake feel is pretty rubbish thanks to the pump-
assisted brake system, but at least it does stop. As
from outside and slightly more wheel travel is limited certainly benefit from the brand synergies. connected to anything on the inside. unsporting car. for the clutch, er…
difficult (though not impossible, by the car’s unusual And if charging didn’t take half a day.
strangely) when you’re locked in. weight distribution.

]] WWW.AUtoCAR.Co.Uk 25 NOVEMBER 2009 25 NOVEMBER 2009 WWW.AUtoCAR.Co.UK


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T RACK NOTES ROAD TEST No 4935 1/2
T3
DRy CiRCUiT
Hammerhead Eagle
i-Thrust DESigN AND ENgiNEERiNg
T6
3min 10sec
Tesla Roadster T2 T5 T7 BCCCC
1min 23.7sec
Hopelessly slow, but if we’re Although the Hammerhead
honest we didn’t fancy T1 Eagle i-Thrust may appear to be a
T4
going any faster. Massive Start/finish conventional three-box design (to
understeer followed very which a smaller fourth box has been
● So unstable that we very added, serving as a viewing turret
quickly by even more
nearly crashed on the way
pronounced oversteer. for a brave third passenger), beneath
to the dry circuit.
Dreadful steering. Powerful, ● Unreliable power supply meant the motor had its part-aluminium, part-plastic,
awfully balanced brakes. to be reset three times during our flying lap. part-wood exterior it is, in fact, a
genuine hybrid. There are so many
contributory factors to its technical
WET CiRCUiT ● The single wiper doesn’t actually make-up that it could, in fact, be more
Hammerhead Eagle work, limiting wet-weather ability. accurately described as a freak.
i-Thrust The basic running gear has been
na T5
T6 donated by a TVR Chimaera, so
Tesla Roadster the platform on which the hybrid
1min 15.5sec T7 powertrain sits should, in theory, be
T3
Top Gear engineering, fairly sound. There are ventilated steel
electricity and sprinklers disc brakes and double wishbones at
is not a combination T4 T8 each corner, while even the steering
that inspires a lot of rack has a touch of TVR to it.
confidence. We thought it The Nankang tyres, however, aren’t
● Panel gaps provide unique shower
safer to get out and walk. T2 quite of the same standard; their
T1 function during poor weather.
Start/finish
primary duty in life was to provide
the Citroën 2CV with its half-thimble
ACCElERATiON Cloudy, 11deg C of grip. And attached to the 1200kg
i-Thrust, they are not, as we’ll discover,
HAmmERHEAD EAglE i-THRUST Standing quarter 23.4sec at 55.2mph quite as tenacious as they are on the
30mph 40mph 50mph Deux Cheveaux.
6.0s 9.3s 16.6s Where the Hammerhead Eagle
0 5s 10s 15s gets more intriguing technically is
TESlA ROADSTER Standing quarter 18.5sec at 76.0mph, standing km 26.3sec at 116.7mph, 30-70mph 4.3sec in the type, and location, of its
numerous power sources. The vast
30mph 40 50 60mph 70mph 80mph 90mph 100mph 110mph
Wales & Edwards electric motor
2.2s 3.0s 3.9s 5.0s 6.4s 8.4s 10.9s 14.3s 19.9s
0 5s 10s 15s 20s
(pinched straight out of a milk float
and producing a claimed 85kW)
BRAkiNg 30-0mph 17.9sec sits beneath the bonnet up front and
sends drive directly to the rear
167.5m
0 50m 100m
10.5m wheels, yet the 1� 12-volt lead
30mph-0 acid batteries that feed the motor sit
precariously, in various places, ◊

ON THE LIMIT

Never before have we tested a car where the limit Approach on a constant throttle and with so i-Thrust snaps violently into oversteer. During one
can be reached at such low speeds. Or in a straight little weight over the skinny front wheels the car such moment, the lateral forces were so great that
line. No doubt as a consequence of the absurd will understeer catastrophically. Try to regain the range-extending generator broke free of its
weight distribution (it makes a 911 look evenly front-end grip by braking and the fronts will simply mounts, crashing across the cabin. Fail to catch the
balanced), the i-Thrust is hugely susceptible to lock, at which point any attempt at cornering is resulting slide and again you will crash. This time
throttle and steering inputs. abandoned and you will crash. going backwards.
At anything above 20mph, just trying to keep it This seemingly unappealing outcome is the Hang on in there, though, and the i-Thrust will
going in a straight line needs steady nerves and an lesser of two evils, though; try lifting the throttle just sit there on opposite lock all the way through
even steadier hand. And because the i-Thrust lacks and such is the sensitivity of the electric motor a corner. So it’s intrinsically unsafe — lethal, even
ESP or ABS, you’re on your own if you get it wrong. and the enormity of the weight transfer that the — but surprisingly amusing at the same time.

25 NOVEMBER 2009 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.Uk


road TesT No 4935 1/2

Under the skin


feels familiar
The Hammerhead eagle i-Thrust may distinct — some would say unique —
look like a collection of bits found after rear-engined handling bias, which may
a hurricane has blown through a or may not be a good thing. its main
garden centre, but it is based on the power source is a bank of 13 12-volt
tried-and-tested underpinnings of a batteries, which provide drive to the
TVr Chimaera. except that most of the rear wheels via a Wales & edwards
powertrain sits in the back, not at the electric motor — the exact same motor
front. This provides the i-Thrust with a you’d normally find in a milk float.
Milk-float motor is more securely fixed than the range-extender generator

∆ within th� ���� ������t��nt� �ls� � ��f��shing dis��v��y in �n ��� �f


Th�n �n t�� �f this sits � hug�, in����singly thi�k A-�ill��s�
�xt����ly h��d di�s�l g�n���t��, �b�ut On th� wh�l�, th�ugh, th� i-Th�ust
fiv� in�h�s b�hind th� ��ss�ng��s’ is f�i�ly li�it�d in its �����l insid��
s��ll �nd ��l�tiv�ly s�ft h��ds� Th� s��ts th��s�lv�s, ��u�t�sy
In th���y th� b�tt��i�s ��n b� �f B&Q, f�il t� ���vid� �ith�� th�
���h��g�d lightly whil� �n th� ��v� by ���f��t �� su����t y�u’d �x���t �f �
th� g�n���t�� – � ni�� t�u�h – �� y�u ��nt�������y ���d ���� Th�y w�uld, �t
��n �ull �v�� f�� � full �h��g� �t �n� th� v��y l��st, b�n�fit f��� s��� f���
th� UK’s in����singly ���ul�� �lug-in- �f �ushi�ning�
�nd-��y ���h��ging st�ti�ns� Th� d�shb���d, whil� �l��� �n�ugh
In ���lity, th� di�s�l g�n���t�� in its fund���nt�l l�y�ut, is �bvi�usly There's a TVR Chimaera under the skin; it's very well hidden, though...
��n b���ly ���du�� �n�ugh �uff t� f��� � byg�n� ��� visu�lly (it’s b��n
illu�in�t� �n� �f th� indi��t��s, whil� lift�d st��ight �ut �f � Fi�t P�nd�)�
th� �lug-in-�nd-��y s��k�t is just And th� d�iving ��siti�n is si�il��ly
f�� sh�w� It’s n�t ��tu�lly �tt��h�d t� �������is�d, b�th by th� �ffs�t
�nything, whi�h ���ns th� �nly w�y ��d�ls �nd th� f��t th�t y�u h�v� t�
t� ���h��g� th� i-Th�ust is t� unb�lt int��twin� y�u� l�ft ��� th��ugh th�
its b�tt��i�s �nd h��k th�� u� t� th� ��nt�� s��t in ��d�� t� g��s� th� TVR-
��ins f�� h�u�s �n �nd� s�u���d st���ing wh��l ������ly�
Th�n th���’s th� fit �nd finish� And
inTerior th� n�is�� Th� H�����h��d w�s s�
l�ud whil� �n th� ��v�, th�nks t�
ACCCC its �l�tt��ing b�dyw��k int� whi�h
th� �i� w�uld f���ly �ush, th�t w�
Th��� ��� fl�sh�s �f g�nius ���s�nt ��uldn’t ��tu�lly t�k� �n ���u��t�
insid� th� i-Th�ust, su�h �s its th���- d��ib�l ���ding� St�nding still, �nd
s��t l�y�ut �nd its un�tt��h�d (�nd with n�thing ���� th�n � light z��hy�
th���f��� unusu�lly ���t�bl�) st����� ����ssing its �lu�iniu�/w��d/�l�sti� Power comes from a cluster of 13 12V batteries at the rear of the car
Th� vi�w f��w��ds �ut �f th� v�st, b�dy ��n�ls, it still �����d�d 65dB, th�
L�nd R�v��-s�u���d winds����n is s��� �s � BMW 7-s��i�s �t 70��h� ◊

Thhe
he i-Ti-Th
Thr
hrust
s
st
exhb
hhiibits a sliight
h
rearward weight
bias compared
with the TVR

25 NOVEMBER 2009 WWW.aUToCar.Co.Uk


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cRunchInG nuMBERs

Boot lid lifts well clear of the

30mph. That’s slightly concerning, rumbles from one location to the next,
given that the Highway Code says its bodywork flapping in the wind
the average stopping distance from as the 2CV tyres try their best – and
70mph is 215 feet. occasionally fail – to prevent the body
panels from rubbing on the floor.
RIdE ANd HANdLINg In many ways it serves as a stark
reminder of how far things have
CCCCC progressed in the realm of ride and
handling in recent years. But there is
The Eagle i-Thrust has no ride or something strangely likeable about
Out of juice after three miles. Doesn't bode well for the Land's End trip handling as such. Instead, it just the way it lurches around almost

hard but ultimately failed to crack


PERfORMANCE 60mph within the confines of MIRA’s
one-mile straight. In the end it reached
ACCCC 50mph in 16.6sec and ran out of juice
at 55mph, making it the slowest car we
Martin Brundle once said that no have tested this century.
matter how many times you’ve driven If the i-Thrust could compensate
a Formula One car, the first time you for this with a modicum of in-gear
climb back in after the winter testing flexibility, its lack of fizz in a straight
break, you are always astonished by line would be easier to forgive. But it
the raw performance. only has one gear, so what you see is
A similar rule applies to electric what you get. And it isn’t much.
vehicles over their first few feet of The one area in which it did impress, "Good morning,
travel, though in the case of the sort of, was under brakes, and this was MIRA!" Our
i-Thrust the effect, it must be noted,
is not as startling as in some rivals.
thanks primarily to its TVR ventilated
discs. Having said that, the i-Thrust
man tries out
Our best two-way average for the would lock up its front tyres at the the car's all-
0-30mph lunge was 6.0sec, and merest hint of pressure on the brake too-portable
unfortunately we failed to even record
a 0-60mph time; the i-Thrust tried
pedal, so it required an incredible
549.6 feet in which to stop from just
sound system
THE SMALL PRINT Power and torque-to-weight figures are… well, would have been calculated using manufacturer’s claimed kerb weight,
if “the lads” had provided one. But suffice it to say, the i-Thrust will struggle to move at all in the event of Clarkson’s wallet being on board.
© Autocar 2009. Test results may not be reproduced without editor’s written permission — but he’s in a bad mood pre-Christmas, so you’ve Read all of our road tests
no chance. For more information on the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust (are you serious?) we’d suggest BBC iPlayer. Or call the Top Gear office
and ask them to send you a copy of the show on DVD; hey, we’re sure you’re a loyal licence fee payer, so it’s not as if you haven’t stumped
up for it already, is it? No road testers were harmed during the making of this feature — although they did resort to wearing day-glo vests
Road TesT autocar.co.uk
and thick rubber gloves in a bid for survival.

WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.Uk 25 NOVEMBER 2009


ROAd T
TEST No 4935 1/2

Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust


autocar verdict ACCCC TESTERS’ NOTES

Sets the base level of achievement in the zero-emissions sector

opening for easy access to the power pack STEVE SUTCLIffE


In reverse this car will do
the same speed as going
uncontrollably on its suspension forwards, and there’s
from one corner to another. There is a a good chance it’d be
certain honesty to the way it bumbles more stable.
about that is (thankfully) missing in
anaesthetised, mass-produced cars.
Its steering response is a little too
crisp, truth be told. At one point during
testing, the Hammerhead went into
a monumental tank-slapper while MATT SAUNdERS
being driven in a dead straight line. At 30mph the noise is the
After that we didn’t bother much with same as a TVR Sagaris on
testing it through corners, although it the limiter in third. At 50
did somehow register a lateral load of it’s like a pneumatic drill.
0.408g on the skidpan.

BUyINg ANd OWNINg

T
CCCCC
hat’s right: in the end, and despite its showing one or two JAMIE CORSTORPHINE
There will only ever be one i-Thrust, very dim flashes of genius, it’s hard — no, it’s impossible — When does the Clubsport
and that’s probably a good thing, but version go on sale?
this does make it hard to attach an to regard the i-Thrust as a success.
accurate value to the car. Its hybrid system looks good on paper but fails to deliver JOBS fOR THE fACELIfT
Still, day-to-day running costs much in practice, its range and performance are rather pathetic
should be reasonable considering the l Metallic paint would
price of electricity, allied to the relative compared with anything else on four wheels, while its styling is be worth considering for
ease and affordability with which unlikely to win fans among those of us blessed with the gift of the Mk2 Hammerhead;
parts – such as its shed-sourced door it could be called the
handles – can be replaced. sight. And remember, a perfectly fit TVR Chimaera went to its HammerRight.
The main problem with running grave to bring us this monster. l Some sort of rear-
the i-Thrust every day would be the The creators of the i-Thrust are to be applauded, if only view mirror wouldn’t
inconvenience factor, given that its go amiss.
batteries need to be removed and because they have built a vehicle that exists and is capable of l Lose the clutch pedal
recharged every 20-25 miles. But providing actual transport for three people without too much on the Mk2. It’s hardly
then, as Daimler-Benz discovered worth having; in fact,
over a century ago, you’ve got to start destruction to our troubled climate. As to whether it will help why is it there at all?
somewhere before you can progress. save the world or not, the answer is probably not.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th


ROAd TEST
Top
FIVE
MAkE TESLA MITSUBISHI HAMMERHEAd EAgLE ELECTRIC REVA
Model Roadster i-MiEV i-Thrust golf Cart gWiz i
Price £94,000 £25,000 (est) tbc £1495 £8495
Power 248bhp at 5000-8000rpm 63bhp 85kW (claimed) at 1rpm 3bhp at 1rpm 15kW at 1rpm
Torque 276lb ft at 0-6000rpm 133lb ft tbc tbc tbc
0-50mph 3.9sec na 16.6sec No chance We’re not patient enough
Top speed 125mph 81mph 55.6mph 19mph 51mph
fuel consumption 280wh/mile na na na na
kerb weight 1238kg 1080kg 1200kg 225kg 500kg
CO2/tax band 0g/km, 9 per cent na na na na
There is no more Capable and highly defines better than any Lower top speed and Awful to drive, daft to
sophisticated or developed, but quite other the point at which less wind protection, but look at, and sadly still
Every Top five desirable electric car. expensive for its size. a shed becomes a car. better build quality. in production.
See Page 84 ★★★★✩ ★★★B✩ ★✩✩✩✩ B✩✩✩✩ B✩✩✩✩

25 NOVEMBER 2009 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK