Mexico may be known as a hub for automotive production in the Americas, but it isn't typically identified as a hotbed of design or engineering. The folks at Mastretta are out to change that with their new MXT sports car.
Powered by a Ford-sourced 2.0-liter Duratec I4 engine mounted amidships and plumbed with a turbo for 250 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque, the MXT is a simple, lightweight proposition designed to resonate with the Colin Chapmans and Gordon Murrays of this world.
The overall shape of the car is perhaps derivative but quite appealing in person, with better-than-expected fit and finish for a small-volume prototype, though the interior still needs some modest refining (even for an elemental track day car). The aluminum semi-monocoque construction features a carbon fiber belly pan and a steel subframe, and suspension is via double wishbones front and rear. The body is comprised of fiberglass reinforced plastic, which should help with both ease of manufacturing and updating.
Thanks to Mexico's low labor costs, the folks at Mastretta (a company that cut its teeth building kit cars and commercial buses) are optimistic that they can sell the 2,050-pound MT for just $50,000-$60,000 for European audiences, with the goal of eventually bringing the car north to the States. That strikes us as an ambitious target for a car with over 1,800 unique pieces and a handful of major carbon fiber components, but with virtually no costly electronics to develop (there's no stability control, ABS, or what have you) and no airbags (at least in this prototype stage), it's possible that they could be on to something.
Mastretta officials we spoke with are going for UK certification shortly in order to sell the MXT across Europe. Plans for any U.S. sales will require passing a more stringent homologation process, however, so the company will likely need to build sales momentum before it attempts to set a foot in the North American market. Volume targets are modest at present, with initial production plans calling for one car a week, ramping quickly to about 150 units per year, with a longer-term goal being 500 units.
Check out our high-res gallery from the show floor below, and then hop the jump for the official press release.
Live photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL
Tecnoidea SAPI de CV is a Mexican design and engineering consulting firm based in the Mexico City area, with more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry. Through creativity, innovation and technology, Tecnoidea has helped businesses create products from the initial concept all the way to successful product development. Tecnoidea effectively becomes an extension of its client´s product development team. Backed by a solid reputation in providing world-class design and engineering services, Tecnoidea enables visions to become commercial success.
The company has developed and built in its facilities bus prototypes for public transport and for private coach building firms. Thousands of these buses operate daily in numerous, busy Mexican cities.
Expanding from these roots, Tecnoidea built in the 90's, kit-car replicas of famous cars, including America´s favourite sports car and the 1955 Speedster. These replicas were produced using fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) technology for the body and utilized a production chassis.
Following the completion of the kit-car project, the company developed technology allowing it to complete its first independently developed project: The Mastretta MXB. This car was the first in-house automotive project the firm undertook, basing the car on a widely available production platform at the time. Although the car had modest dynamic capabilities, it excelled on its built quality and innovative design. Thirty MXB units were built from 1996 to 1998, which were sold in México, Europe, Japan and the U.S.
THE PROJECT MXT, 2006 – PRESENT
The MXT vision began in 2006. The goal was to create a brand new sports car with a provocative and unique styling. For the first time in the company's history, a proprietary chassis was developed along with all the technical engineering elements, with the exception of the powertrain. After years of working on the vehicle's design, talking with potential suppliers, creating early prototypes and doing preliminary tests, the MXT Prototype Zero debuted in 2008 at the British Motorshow in London. Production was planned to start in 2009, however the international financial crisis delayed the project by one year.
2010 is a very important year for Mexico as we commemorate 200 years of our nation's independence and 100 years of the revolutionary movement that forged our country's identity. In this monumental year, we are proud to rejoice at the birth of the first ever Mexican-designed and built low-volume production Mexican sports car for sale on the international market.
The Mastretta MXT is the first high-performance sports car by Mastretta Cars. The new automotive manufacturer division of Tecnoidea is based in Ocoyoacac, Estado de México, closely located to the capital of the country.
The Mastretta MXT is a high-performance 2 seat sports car, engineered to deliver outstanding performance through mechanical excellence.
The MXT is Mastretta's answer to the lightweight sports car market, offering a highly advanced vehicle with aggressive design and outstanding driving dynamics while simultaneously responding to our environmentally conscious times by achieving a high level of fuel efficiency.
This lightweight coupé (weighing just over 900 kg) is an entirely new 2-seater, rear mid-engine sports car developed using advanced aerospace materials and motorsport technology. The MXT was developed with the driver experience in mind. Its priorities from the onset have thus been to deliver outstanding performance through purity of design. Its powerful turbocharged 2.0 L engine develops 250 hp, allowing the MXT to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.9 seconds. This acceleration is harnessed by a finely tuned chassis, allowing the vehicle to develop more than 1.1 G of cornering and braking force.
The Mastretta MXT has the robustness and practicality that allow for its use on a day-to-day basis. It is well suited for long distance journeys and city driving alike. With class-leading interior space, this coupé conveys a feeling of spaciousness. The vehicle is fitted with beautifully crafted carbon fiber seats, wrapped in premium leather while interior accents are trimmed in Ultrasuede®, creating the perfect balance between elegance and performance. This car is equipped with the latest technological amenities, including a multimedia system featuring GPS, Bluetooth and iPod compatibility. While performance-oriented, the ride enjoys a high level of comfort due to a lightweight vehicle construction. The MXT is a unique car that offers a high level of versatility, making it a perfect vehicle for daily spirited driving or as a powerful racetrack element.
Designing a car is more than simply creating a beautiful shape. Our design team followed the traditional racing principles of functionality and lightness. Even at first sight, the striking design of the Mastretta MXT reflects its high performance nature. While speeding through a track or sitting silently still, this car exudes an unmistakable essence of form following function.
Overall, the MXT has a very compact appearance. It sits low and broad and its proportions strike great balance from every angle. The main lines were influenced by features that define the modern high-performance vehicle: low height, two seats and a mid-engine configuration; thus creating the ideal layout for optimal handling response and stability. Proportions of the wheelbase, width, minimal overhangs, and height give the Mastretta MXT a stunning presence, while simultaneously suggesting lightness and speed.
The final shape of the car was dictated by the principles of aerodynamics. The flowing line that travels along the centre of the car, starting with the low nose through to the rear spoiler, channels the air in a clean fashion while generating the required downforce to give the MXT agility and balance at both low and high speeds. Large side scoops provide breathing and cooling for the turbocharged rear mid-engine. The flat aluminium underbody also plays an important role as it directs the air to the rear diffuser, not only avoiding lift but enhancing rear stability; essential features for the performance driver.
Components and details that form part of the exterior design enhance the beauty of the basic shape. The style of the headlights, painted in a colour contrasting that of the body, seamlessly follows the overall design. The side windows are frameless. The single exhaust system is elegantly housed in the centre of the diffuser. Laser-cut lettering adorns the Mastretta name on the rear bumper and the MXT denomination on its sides.
The Mastretta MXT was engineered and built around the cockpit. The seats are positioned close together and as low as the chassis allows, creating an ideal seating position for performance driving and allowing the driver to enjoy optimal road feel.
Despite the vehicle's small dimensions, the interior is spacious enough to seat even tall drivers comfortably. Bespoke carbon fibre seats, trimmed in leather, were developed to provide maximum support for the driver under high g-forces generated by the Mastretta MXT when cornering, accelerating and braking. The flat-bottomed steering wheel has a diameter of only 320 mm, a size that facilitates quick turn-ins. The aluminium pedals are positioned to allow precision footwork, with the throttle located slightly in front of the brake pedal to facilitate the heel-and-toe technique.
All the interior materials are classified specifically for the auto industry, including fire retardant carpets and treated leather while Ultrasuede® covers many other elements. The end result is a high quality interior that fulfills all technical, safety, and visual expectations of a performance sports car.
Excellent visibility is facilitated in the front by a low nose that allows the driver to see the road ahead and by a clear view of the front fenders that facilitate precision turn-in at corners.
The Mastretta MXT is equipped with air conditioning to make the car suitable for long drives in any weather condition. For every day practicality, the in-car media system incorporates GPS navigation, iPod connectivity, hands-free communication via Bluetooth, a DVD player and other technological features.
The turbocharged 2.0 litre Duratec four cylinder engine is located behind the cockpit and in front of the rear axle, connected to a MTX-75 five-speed manual gearbox.
With a power output of 184 kW (250 hp) and 340 Nm (251 lb-ft) of torque, this aluminium power plant is excellently suited to the MXT as it is compact and lightweight, while delivering very good levels of performance and drivability.
A bespoke engine management system was developed for performance driving: it has immediate throttle response and a consistent torque output throughout the rev range, while the turbo lag is unnoticeable. The shift lights at the top of the digital instrument cluster indicate the exact time for gear changes, allowing the driver to make the most of the Mastretta MXT's engine performance.
Built from specially designed aluminium extrusions and carbon fibre, the bespoke chassis of the MXT was engineered to provide high rigidity and low weight. The suspension of the Mastretta MXT perfectly complements the potential of the lightweight semi-monocoque and powerful engine, which results in outstanding levels of lateral grip and traction.
The semi-monocoque constitutes the basis to achieve the class-leading dynamics and performance of the car.
Aluminium extrusions and sheets are bonded together with aerospace industry-derived cold-cure adhesive to form the main cockpit tub. The carbon fiber floor beneath the entire cockpit area increases the car's stiffness, while the lightweight steel rear subframe gives unity to the chassis and provides a strong backbone for the engine and rear suspension assembly. The aluminium fuel tank is placed within the monocoque, between the passenger cell and engine compartment.
The MXT features a fully independent double wishbone suspension front and rear, with a front anti-roll bar that further stabilizes the car in high speed corners. The shock absorbers and coil springs are finely tuned for grip. This setup provides optimum agility, stability and steering precision, while still delivering a high level of ride comfort.
The braking system consists of four piston callipers with cross-drilled rotors measuring 300 mm at all four corners. The synergy between the vehicle's low mass, ideal weight distribution and powerful brakes allow the MXT to brake from 100 km/h to a halt in only 35 meters.
The Mastretta MXT is about performance. Advanced engineering, lightweight materials and a powerful engine act together to achieve the dynamics of the MXT. Steeped in the principles of modern racing technology, the MXT does not include driver aids or electronic assists that filter the driving experience. It is driving at its purest essence.
As a driver's car, the most important development aim was to focus on optimizing acceleration, cornering and braking capabilities. With an overall weight of just over 900 kg and a turbocharged Duratec 2.0 litre engine producing 250 hp, the MXT accelerates from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 230 km/h. The high-performance chassis can generate lateral acceleration of up to 1.1 G, making exceptional cornering speeds possible, while the fadeless braking system provides outstanding stopping power.
But despite its remarkable performance, the MXT is not intended to be a hardcore track day special that maximizes speed but offers no practicality. Thus, the car is very well suited for long-distance road driving, oriented towards spirited drivers who seek an exhilarating drive. Benefiting from its light weight, low centre of gravity and relatively long wheelbase, the chassis offers a fine balance between ride and handling. Despite its agility and power, it is easy to control even at the limit of grip.
The Mastretta MXT is a powerful machine designed to deliver outstanding performance through mechanical excellence. This requires the use of bespoke materials and components, and a construction process that blends advanced technology with careful craftsmanship.
From the construction of the aluminium chassis to the delicate finish of the composite body, Mastretta employs high quality manufacturing techniques that transformed concept into reality.
With a complete design and engineering package that is entirely new and developed in house, the MXT has about 1,800 separate purpose-built parts that fit together with utmost precision. The chassis is made from laser-cut aluminium sheets and extrusions that are bonded together with aerospace adhesive, complemented with a structural carbon-fibre floor and chromoly roll cage. As a result, the chassis is outstandingly light and rigid while providing maximum safety in the cockpit.
As the chassis is being manufactured, other departments fabricate all mechanical components and sub-assemblies, such as the hand-built suspension, engine structure, fuel tank and body panels. All parts undertake quality control testing before arriving in the assembly area, where the car is finally put together. Employing clever solutions that remain true to the purity of design, the MXT is built with only high quality components from specialized manufacturers.