The modern automotive era has seen more retro brands revived than we can remember. Marques like Bugatti, Spyker, Abarth and Mini are perhaps the most prominent among them – to say nothing of counteless resurrected model nameplates from the Volkswagen New Beetle to the Dodge Challenger – and each has brought its classic caché back from the dead with a modern take on the original. Imperia, however, plans on doing one better.
Active throughout the first half of the 20th century, Imperia is back with retro styling along the lines of a Morgan or Wiesmann, but with a decidedly modern twist: it's a hybrid. Propulsion is provided by the combination of a 207-horsepowr 1.6-liter turbo four and a 134-hp electric motor. Such a small package driven only by the electric motor can hit 62 from a standstill in a solid six seconds, or just four with internal combustion kicking in.
The product of some three years of development, the first pre-production prototype was recently unveiled at its home Belgian Auto Show, and is set to hit the market shortly with a 90,000-euro price tag, or 120,000 euros for the first edition. Take a closer look in the gallery below and in the press release after the jump.
[Source: Imperia via WorldCarFans]
The Imperia Automobiles project is clearly ambitious
It involves nothing less than creating a new vehicle concept, implementing new technologies, and at the same time introducing a new approach to driving and the pleasure it brings.
It is ambitious too because this vehicle aims to join a stubbornly exclusive segment where quality standards are very high.
And it is even more ambitious because Imperia Automobiles is proposing a world 1st in the sector, both a small revolution and an incredible evolution.
The design of this vehicle hinges on three remarkable requirements:
* Environmental concern, through motorisation based on Plug-in hybrid engine technology supplemented by path-breaking autonomy in electric mode.
* The pleasure of sport driving, obtained through high-level performance.
* Attention to design, conveyed through its neo-retro lines inspired from Imperia history that will seduce the most demanding amateur.
3 parameters, 1 solution
There are vehicles that at present offer one, or even two, of these characteristics. The originality and relevance of the Imperia Automobiles concept rest in the fact that it is the only one able to meet all three of these requirements at the same time. The Imperia is indeed a world first.
In keeping with the times, the Imperia project is part of a major trend in today's world which, quite rightly, is concerned more and more with the environment and sustainable development. It also enables its potential purchasers to satisfy their taste for technology oriented towards pleasure and aesthetic refinement whilst still making a socially-responsible gesture.
Propulsion that really moves things forward
The motorisation of the Imperia GP roadster relies on a technology developed exclusively for this vehicle. The first sports car considering the same strong environmental concerns only propose the pure electric propulsion, which drastically limits their range of action.
Imperia, for its part, offers unlimited range the moment it switches to the thermal engine in case the batteries go empty. In hybrid mode, the batteries can also preventively be recharged when the vehicle is in motion.
The principle of PowerHybrid® propulsion according to Imperia
During a journey, the driver can decide at any time, via a selector, the type of propulsion required: electric or hybrid.
Using another control, the driver decides whether he/she intends to run the batteries down completely (in order to recharge them on the mains, having reached the destination), or wants to keep a reserve to be used when entering urban traffic.
These functions enable you to optimise your use of the Imperia GP by adapting to circumstances.
Cheap energy with no direct emissions
The Imperia GP offers yet another pioneering exclusive feature on its market segment: it is the only hybrid car that can be recharged from the mains, simply via a 220V power socket.
Full charge is obtained in 4h30, for an unbeatable cost per kilometer ratio (€ 0.034/ km on day tariff, € 0.016/100 km on night tariff).
Environment and Performance
Pure speed. Really very pure
The Imperia Automobiles offer is radical: a vehicle whose consumption and CO2 emissions are comparable to those of a Smart ForTwo, whilst still guaranteeing outstanding performance easily rivalling makes with an established reputation, like Ferrari or Porsche.
Imperia Automobiles manages to square the circle in two ways. By designing a very lightweight vehicle on the one hand, and by harmoniously combining in parallel the two motorisations, thermal and electric, on the other.
Our design minimises well-to-wheel nuisances, that is from primary energy. Consequently, the Imperia GP roadster emits very little CO2 overall (and even zero direct emissions in electric mode), en thereby plays an effective part in fighting global warming. Following European regulation R101 for Plug-in hybrids, the mixed consumption -petrol and electricity- of the Imperia GP barely reaches 1.9 l/100km plus 11.5 kWh/100km and the CO2 emissions are below 50 g/km! In a more rigorous well-to-wheel philosophy, the environmental mission is also here completely fulfilled.
Performances that make other sports cars green with envy
Sports performances are not being left behind.
The Imperia GP accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds in purely electric mode, and in 4.0 seconds in hybrid mode. The kilometre time trial clocks in at 22.5 seconds. The Porsche 911 Carrera S itself cannot boast as much. Specialists will appreciate it.
We wanted to prove that a socially- and environmentally-responsible approach does not rule out the finer pleasures in life!
The success of resurrected cars like the New Beetle, the Mini, or more recently, the commercial triumph of the new-look Fiat 500, bear witness to this: Neo-Retro Design is definitely in fashion. In addition to the aesthetic pleasure afforded by the lines, which stand out from the current standards commonplace in today's vehicles, you can also detect nostalgia for a time when the car was still a magical object, the vector of a rediscovered freedom.
With wings separate from the engine hood and its fluid lines, the Imperia GP celebrates the return to a concept where elegance is no longer sacrificed for efficiency, and where these two parameters are harmoniously integrated. Its vertical radiator grille is a fine example of this. Although it might suggest an aerodynamic weakness, it houses a mobile inlet device that regulates the flow of air into the vehicle.
This characteristic gives it a better penetration ratio than many contemporary cars.
The design of the Imperia results from a close collaboration between Green Propulsion and the designer Denis Stevens.
Sensual pleasure without luxury. Or with.
The sporty character of the Imperia GP is also reflected in its deliberately austere interior. Amateurs and those nostalgic for purely sports driving will discover a level of pleasure that sometimes seems lessened by the different electronic "support" systems that more ordinary vehicles are filled with.
On board the Imperia GP, the driver becomes the pilot again.
These devices are available, however, as several option packs.
Layout 4 in line turbo
Displacement 1.6 l
Maximum torque 260 Nm
Maximum power 156 kW
Gearbox 5 speed
Maximum torque 300 Nm
Maximum power 100 kW
Nominal voltage 355 V
Capacity 31 A.h
Range on batteries > 70 km
Maximum power 3 kW
Net plug 220 V 16 A
Charging time 85% in 4h 100% in 5h
Chassis Steel spaceframe including safety cage
Suspensions Double wishbones
Rims 18 inches alloy