First things first. The cars you see here are not from Caterham. Confusion comes to the common man because it looks similar to the Caterham, which has enjoyed some presence due to a certain Formula 1 team. These cars are from Westfield, a car brand that is owned by a UK company called Potenza and sold here by a JV company formed with local partner DRB-Hicom, hence the name Hicom-Potenza for the local distribution company.
In Malaysia, there are two Westfield cars that are available for purchase – the Westfield Sport Turbo 3 and the Westfield AeroRace.
The car you see in the picture above is the Westfield Sport Turbo 3, and it’s only available as a factory-built car. It is powered by a 1.6 litre 16V Ecotec-4 Turbo VXR engine that is capable of 230 hp at 5,800 rpm and 260 Nm at 2,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The ST3, in this current form, tips the scales at 715 kg. Put all that together and you’ll get blistering performance numbers: 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h.
The car measures 3,500 mm long, 1,630 mm wide and 1,100 mm high. The space frame chassis is made from lightweight Reynolds 631 tubing. Body panels are all fibreglass coloured gelcode.
Suspension and handling duties are carried out by double wishbones, cast alloy stub axles and coilover dampers (Mazda rear differentials). The ST3 gets solid disc brakes all round – four pot calipers for the front and two pot calipers for the rear. As for tyres, the ST3 wears 15-inch Team Dynamics Race Wheels wrapped in 205/50/15 Toyo R888 SG Compound Tyres.
The car also gets a laminated windscreen, detachable front and rear wheel arches and exhaust tips finished in chrome. Inside, car has fitted Cobra semi bucket adjustable seats with Westfield stitching. The interior is fully trimmed in PU leather. Westfield has also fitted an instrument panel from GM’s catalog.
Options that come with the car are the rear roll-bar protection, soft-top cover and side panel with vinyl door windows. The car also gets an electric boot-lid release.
Pictured above is the demo-version of the Westfield AeroRace, which is why there are two seats. It is powered by a 2.0 litre DOHC Ford Zetec engine that churns 170 hp. The engine features a multi-throttle body, programmable injection system and a 4-2-1 header with a catalyst exhaust manifold system. The engine is paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. This car is seriously light, only 525 kg, which gives the AeroRace a zero-to-hundred time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h.
The AeroRace’s triangulated chassis is made from lightweight tubular steel and wears composite constructed lightweight body panels. The car features double-wishbone independent fully adjustable suspension system, uprated race springs, ultra lightweight billet aluminium brake calipers and adjustable brake bias master cylinder. The racecar runs on 13-inch Team Dynamics Race wheels wrapped in 205/60/13 Toyo R888 SG Compound tyres.
Being a full-fledged race car, this Westfield is outfitted with a five-point harness, a three-spoke motorsport race steering wheel, FIA Approved full cage with integrated driver side impact protection bar, lightweight race wiring looms, Lifeline plumbed 2.25 litre fire extinguisher, start/stop engine switch and central cut-off switch.
The car also has front and rear anti-roll bars, FIA Approved race bucket seats, uprated race brake pads, rear mirror and an LCD digital race dash meter with data logging and GPS Positioning.
Now that we’re done with introductions, let’s get down to the business end. With the law being as it is, I had to ask if the cars are road legal.
Of the two, only the Westfield Sport Turbo 3 will be road legal, soon. Hicom-Potenza has submitted all relevant documents to the proper authorities and is waiting for approval.
The Westfield AeroRace that Hicom-Potenza brings in will be for track-use only; a Motorsport AP is used to bring in the AeroRace, hence, its limited use. This AP also allows the AeroRace to avoid the other taxes and duties that is imposed on the road-legal car.
Price? The Westfield AeroRace will set you back approximately RM180,000. The price is only indicative as Hicom-Potenza is thinking of packaging the car with training courses that will allow owners to know their Westfield well.
It’s also thinking of leasing out the car for the one-make race. However, all plans are in still in development, so there is nothing concrete I can tell you yet. One of the considerations is to lease the car for RM25,000 for three races – the car will be taken care and stored by Hicom-Potenza as well, for that price.
As for the road-legal Westfield Turbo Sport 3, it will set you back in the ballpark of RM300,000. Hicom-Potenza is bringing in the car CBU; the Sport Turbo 3 is factory-built in the UK and does not come in complete kit versions. Which means all the excise duties and taxes will be imposed on the car. On top of that, there’s also shipping and landing costs to cover. Don’t forget the British Pound-Ringgit Malaysia exchange rate.
It leaves the company with a bit of a headache, as it knows the Westfields should be relatively affordable and accessible to most car enthusiast. But other options are being looked at that might allow the company to bring the price down.
One way is to go the CKD route. This will definitely bring the price of the road-legal car down. However, there is the issue of quality to consider, as customers would want their cars to have better workmanship, should DRB-Hicom assemble the cars.
In any case, even if the Sport Turbo 3 came in kit form, the regular Malaysian home lacks the space and facilities the car requires. You would also need some form of hoist so that you can work the underbody of the car, and you’ll definite need to be proficient in welding. Sorry to burst your bubble, mine was burst too.
Hicom-Potenza admits that there is a lot of work to be done. The main goal, however, is to get the Westfield name into as many households as possible. So, when the time comes to unveil its production sports car, at least part of the uphill task is already accomplished.
Driving impression: Westfield Sport Turbo 3
Surprise, surprise. This car is actually easy to drive. I admit, I thought I’d get chewed on and spat out on the gravel, but this car is quite forgiving.
The throttle is responsive and it delivers power as how you want it. But there is turbo lag. It is a slow and easy build up of power before it all comes rushing in when the turbo kicks in. Which is great in the straights. At the corners, things do get on the edge because one wrong step will earn you a ticket to the gravel trap.
This car handles extremely well. Plenty of feedback, of course. But it has quick response and its precision makes it so much fun attacking the apexes. If you’re tall enough, you can actually see the front wheels and judge with more accuracy.
You’ll never feel out of control. This machine truly makes you feel one with it, like it knows what you are thinking. And the only time it goes out of sorts is when the driver becomes an ape behind the wheel.
Since this will be road legal, I do wonder how would one live with such a car.
Driving impression: Westfield AeroRace
Although the two-seater demo-version was available for the test drive session, I somehow found myself in the race-version of the AeroRace. I heard that the demo-version has longer first, second and third gear ratios, which is different than the race-prepped cars. In any case, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I’ve driven a few race-ready cars before, but they usually have a door and a roof. Those were a bit soft too. This has a poor excuse of a windshield. If I didn’t have a helmet on, my face would have been just as destroyed as Clarkson’s; I wouldn’t mind one bit.
Amazing is not a word to describe the AeroRace. This car is a wild beast. The gears are short and the distance between the numbers is even shorter. Flicking the gears is as every bit rapid and entertaining.
And you better know what you’re doing before prodding the accelerator. Merely pressing the accelerator does not necessarily deliver the horses. You need to push the pedal deeper. Then, power does not get sent to you, it gets thrown at you. Go out of your mind for a bit and you are guaranteed to face the wrong side of the traffic.
You can feel the spin as it happens, of course. You sit right at on its tail, just in front of the rear axles, which makes you feel the dynamics of the entire car. The steering is quick and accurate, and it translates verbatim everything you want the car to do. And for a brief moment, man and machine are truly one.
Stopping the car requires faith. The brakes don’t bite hard even when you’ve pushed the brake pedal to the floor. But you are stopping quickly. It is unnerving at first, but after a few laps, you’ll be braking deeper into the corners.
Do I even need to mention that this car has no pitch and no yaw? It stays pressed to the road, constantly. I did not record a lap time, how could I when I the car demanded my all of my attention. In the end, it didn’t matter because this car did what it needed to do – increased my heartbeat, put a smile on my face and made me feel alive.