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Detroit show: VLF Automotive launches Force 1

Forced smile: Danish designer Henrik Fisker has turned his hand to gas guzzlers and the VLF Automotive Force 1, after a tenure penning zero-emissions electric cars.

Exclusive VLF Automotive Force 1 takes 555kW fight to low volume US sportscars


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13 Jan 2016

BOUTIQUE American brand VLF Automotive has pulled the covers from a potent new supercar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, dubbed the Force 1, which shares the mighty 555kW/928Nm 8.4-litre V10 of the Dodge Viper.

Its sculptural and edgy bodywork was penned by former Fisker Automotive boss Henrik Fisker, who has gone from one automotive world extreme with the zero-emissions Fisker to another, and his new company VLF Automotive, which appears to be focusing on sportscars with large-capacity naturally aspirated petrol engines.

Mr Fisker co-founded the company with global automotive industry heavyweight and former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz and manufacturing authority Gilbert Villarreal. The company title borrows the initial of each founder member's surname.

The Force 1 doubles the VLF Automotive line-up, joining the 6.2-litre V8-powered Destino super-sedan, that also debuted at the show, cementing the Danish designer's new direction with the low-volume American car-builder, after bailing from his previous involvement and the now Chinese-owned Fisker company.

With a $US300,000 pricetag ($A418,000) the Force 1 goes up against models such as the accomplished, established and far cheaper Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Spyker C8, Aston Martin Vanquish and the Viper with which it shares an engine, but VLF says its latest creation delivers “the best performance in its price class”.

Its carbon-fibre construction has kept weight to about the 1500kg mark allowing the Force 1 to accelerate to 60mph (96km/h) in 3.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 351km/h, but still provides a “luxurious contemporary interior for two people”.

Unlike almost all other ultra-performance car manufacturers, VLF is offering the Force 1 with a six-speed manual transmission as well as a more customary automatic transmission, which has six speeds and paddle shifters.

Its leather, suede and Alcantara cabin accommodates two people and has comfort features including a central cubby that fits twin wine bottles, a carbon-fibre sunglasses holder, integrated WiFi internet, satellite navigation and a premium sound system.

Sports seats can be optioned as the most lightweight manually adjustable versions or electrically adjustable.

On the outside, the Force 1's styling is intended to turn heads with an angular and unusual coupe profile that features numerous large vents to feed its front mid-mounted ten-cylinder beast, Ultra Thin Ventilated (UTV) tail-lights and slender peeping headlights not unlike the Mazda MX-5's.

The bruiser coupe rides on 21-inch wheels that wear Pirelli P Zero rubber and stands 1243mm tall with a 2018mm width and 4545mm length.

Its Destino V8 sibling borrows a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR 1 and its 476kW is enough to get the four-door to 96km/h in 3.9 seconds before maxing out at 322km/h. An automatic transmission is standard, sending power to the rear wheels.

Construction is largely aluminium, although a carbon-fibre roof can be optioned and the cabin offers room for four in “luxury seats,” according to the car-maker.

The Destino was also designed by Mr Fisker and appears to lean heavily in the aesthetics and proportions of the Fisker Karma that still belongs to the Chinese parts-maker Wanxiang, which acquired the company in 2014.

While large-scale car-makers are forced to comply with ever-tightening US corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations, small scale manufacturers are offered a loophole with a Gas Guzzler Tax, which applies a sliding-scale charge for cars that drop below 22.5 mile per gallon (10.5L/100km).

VLF has not released fuel economy figures for the Force 1, but as it shares a powertrain with the Dodge Viper, it is expected to drink about 13.1L/100km (17.9mpg), which attracts tax of $US2600 ($AU3700) per car.

Mr Fisker had previously founded Henrik Fisker Design, which produced a number of concept vehicles but has not resulted in a confirmed production model.

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