New electric sports car driven

* We drive the Delta E-4 electric car * 0-60mph in 6.5 secs 140-mile range * Four-wheel-drive Sport version planned...

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What Car? Staff
09 May 2011

New electric sports car driven

The Delta E-4 is a British-built all-electric four-seater that brings the promise of sports car performance and a range of up to 140 miles. We got behind the wheel to see if it can deliver on those claims.

What is it?
The E-4 is an all-electric four-seater coupe concept car, which comes in two proposed versions.

The rear-wheel-drive Eco version we drove has fewer batteries and a lightweight composite design to help keep its overall weight to just 975kg. It can travel from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, has a top speed of 116mph, and a range of up to 140 miles on a single eight-hour charge.

There are also plans for a four-wheel-drive Sport version. The Sport can blast from 0-60mph in 4.0 seconds, hit 150mph, and cover up to 200 miles thanks to the larger array of batteries which take 16 hours to charge.

What's it like to drive?
Switching on the 'ignition' and selecting drive brings typical electric-car gurgles from the batteries and cooling-management systems.

Even this lower-powered rear-wheel-drive version of the E-4 is fast off the line. There's a huge amount of torque, and it responds instantly and powerfully to every throttle input once you're on the move.

The batteries account for a good proportion of the car's weight, but they're sited under the floor. That's why it feels rooted to the road and extremely stable, with little body lean through corners.

The Delta also feels well balanced, and doesn't understeer as dramatically as the Tesla Roadster.

It turns into corners much faster than a Tesla, too, and certainly feels like a much lighter car.

The steering isn't as heavy as a Tesla's, either, so it doesn't take long to feel comfortable throwing the car into corners. The brakes work well, too.

There's no regenerative systems to harvest energy as you hit the middle pedal. This means the Delta coasts when you lift the throttle unlike the nose-diving reaction you get in most EVs. However, any production version would surely have to include an energy regeneration system.

How much?
Delta's technical director, Nick Carpenter, says the car could be sold at prices starting from 60,000-70,000 significantly cheaper than the Tesla. The company will need investment of around 2 million to be able to start small volume production, however.