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12 April 2013


Adding international intrigue to the Geneva Motor Show this year was Dutch sportscar manufacturer Spyker. The little marque that could has survived grandiose yet failed efforts to purchase an F1 team and then later a sickly Swedish maker of hyper eccentric automobiles known as Saab. Each of those strategies proved unfruitful so the focus has now shifted back to the production of richly-appointed exotic sportscars.

We’ve long been fans of Spyker’s eccentric C8 models with their mid-mounted Audi V8s and to-die-for interior material quality. Consider our interest peaked then when the Spyker team showed off a new car dubbed the “B6 concept”.

The worst kept secret at Geneva was that this car isn’t intended to be a concept. Spyker hopes to add this smaller offering to help build out a line of sportscars and they’ll likely pull that off considering they’ll use a pre-existing platform that comes from a source they wouldn’t name and thus a much better kept secret – at least until Autoblog.NL and Autoblog started hypothesizing. More on that later.

While in Geneva, we stopped by the Spyker stand to check on the car’s intended powerplant. Given the presence of an Audi 4.2 FSI in the C8, we were hoping to hear the Audi-sourced mills would continue. Spyker reps wouldn’t divulge any information, but the press release suggests a transversely mounted V6 using an automatic transmission.

Company CEO and self-described B6 designer Victor Muller spoke a bit more freely to CoolHunting.com in an interview at the show. In that he revealed some of the thought process and the current status of their position on engines for the car. In the piece he stated, “We have a number of engines we can choose from, but whatever engine we choose, certification is going to be relatively easy because they’re already US certified. We’re only looking at engines that are 50-state engines… So that’s a limiting factor, but fortunately there are plenty of choices.”

Of course going with engines that are already certified would save Spyker a significant amount of cash. That much seems obvious and Spyker’s recent failed investments would certainly make such savings attractive if not crucial in hatching a new model. So too might savings on a chassis and that’s where things get interesting.

Behind the scenes, there are two likely scenarios from which to draw a conclusion on the car’s chassis – one British and one German. Both the Autoblog.nl and Autoblog.com reports allude to at least one of these.

The British scenario, and one we’ve also heard first hand from someone further down the chain in the Spyker organization, suggests the car is a reworked Lotus Evora. We’re not 100% on the reliability of this story, but the source’s association with Spyker certainly makes it worth mentioning. The Evora is of a similar size and configuration, with transversely mounted 3.5-liter Toyota V6 engine. Ailing Lotus might certainly appreciate the business from Spyker and has a track record of producing such vehicles for Opel, Tesla and Melkus, so it seems reasonable. That the Evora is also homologated for U.S. sale would also help it. Even still, we’re inclined to pay serious attention to the second German DNA theory.

When we first approached the B6 Concept we were initially struck by its similarity in size to the Artega GT. The Spyker appeared to share the same size as the Artega – a now bankrupt German specialty marque  that used the same Audi 3.6-liter V6 (VR6) design as seen in the Q7 but mounted transversely with a DSG (S tronic) transmission, technically “automatic” depending on who’s writing the press release.

When last we’d left Artega, it was ailing and its assets were being acquired by components manufacturer Paragon who had also been a supplier to the company and namely of an interesting infotainment concept fitted standard in the car and lauded by Artega.

We did a little digging that led us to a thread on the Spyker enthusiast forum SpykerOwner.com and a particular user active on that site by the name of ‘AirHH’. That user immediately stuck out to us because sounded really knowledgeable about the Artega. Given some of the quotes in other stories we’ve seen on this subject, we suspect it is the posts by AirHH that make up the “sources” for some of those stories.

One of the first posts by AirHH in the thread says:

“The new B6 is definitly based on the ceased Artega GT.

Geometry, proportions, mirrors, diffusor, rear-geometry point already in that direction.

But when you look at the interior:
– inner door panels are identical including the door-opener
– instruments for the cluster instrument including the green color are identical with Artega GT.
– Air Outlet under the windscreen is identical
– position of the handbrake and opener for the front luggage compartment are in the same position
– shape of the whole dashboard is the same

So it seems they took the Artega GT, put a new shape and a heavily modified interior on it.

But I’m interested in the changes to the engine. The Artega GT had ~300BHP, now they say it has 380. For the narrow VR6-Engine that will be a lot. And for the GT it was already a hard piece of work to get the heat away.”

Though not far from the supercharged Evora’s 345hp, the 375 hp figure of the B6 as published by Spyker sounded high in the context of the 3.6-liter Volkswagen Group V6/VR6 previously mounted transversely in the Passat R36 and longitudinally in the Audi Q7, and currently still used in the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.

 

AirHH points out:

“Since VW improved the (Passat) R36-block a lot (even during the time the GT was developed: new engine-block-cooling-concept) it should be possible to bring it stable to 375hp. But due to the VR-shape it’s not easy to improve the cooling.

I know the trouble VW had already to stabilize the engine for the Passat R36 and then the time and effort in cooling changes Artega added for the GT it’s nothing you can solve easily a simple Turbo. They might need compression ratio modification on the engine, new intake manifold, better intake cooling AND improved clutches in the DSG-Gearbox.”

He’d say in another post:

“The company IAV (which does a lot development for VW) engineered a lot of the drivetrain package and configuration, additionally Artega Engineers had even a big influence on the details. So finally it’s really a sportscar approach and has nothing to do anymore with a Golf or Passat. e.g. fresh air concept is specifically designed and optimized, water and oil cooling is specific and bigger than normal.”

Later AirHH would reveal/claim he worked on the development of the Artega GT. Given his level of detailed knowledge, we’re inclined to believe him even though we have not verified this. He states:

“I worked a long time on the development of the Artega GT and drove it for a while. I’m absolutly sure, the technical base IS the GT.

If you think the ceased Artega GT is not a good base you should simply try it…

The Artega GT uses the 3.6-liter 300 hp engine from the Passat R36, the DSG-Gearbox has a special setup (mechanical) for the Artega…

It has ABS and ESP especially setup for the GT with different setup modes, Airbags, it’s Crash-tested…

I don’t see anything wrong in what Spyker does. They’ll make a lot modifications to the car, so there is enough room to make a unique Spyker from it.”

Looking at the dimensions, all three cars are fairly similar and none of them exact.

Length:
Artega GT: 4015mm
Lotus Evora 4342 mm
Spyker B6: 4347mm

Wheelbase:
Artega GT: 2460mm
Lotus Evora 2575 mm
Spyker B6: 2500mm

A profile view of each car is also somewhat inconclusive. None seem to share elements like windows, exact intake points, etcetera. From a design standpoint, the Spyker doesn’t seem quite as sorted as the Lotus or the Heinrik Fisker-penned Artega.

Looking inside the B6 there were more clues as AirHH had mentioned on that Spyker Forum, we’re inclined to believe the car is based on the Artega. The B6 shows a much more intricate infotainment system than is in the Spyker C8 or that is in the Evora and quite possibly the same Paragon system that was in the Artega re-skinned with Spyker graphics. Spyker wasn’t readily letting people sit in the B6 nor play with the system, so its similarity to the Paragon system in the Artega remains unclear.

Interestingly but perhaps not conclusive, the Artega used the same steering wheel as the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf, albeit re-skinned and re-badged. Assumedly the Paragon system was programmed to work with the buttons and controls on that steering wheel and of course the paddles would control the DSG (S-tronic) transmission. From a production standpoint, the inputs from Audi wheels as those seen in the TT, A3 and R8 would likely be compatible. A close inspection of the Spyker B6 revealed it uses a re-skinned and re-badged steering wheel like those used in the TT, A3 and R8.

It is possible that Spyker purchased the production tooling of the Artega in order to save money and time on development and market homologation. If that is true then they’d certainly save a lot of time and money by sticking with the Volkswagen Group’s 3.6-liter narrow angle V6 (a.k.a. VR6).

If Spyker is basing the B6 on the Evora, they may have more engine options readily available to them. As mentioned, the Evora uses a Toyota-sourced V6 but that wouldn’t necessarily mean they’d have to stick with that. Versions of the Lotus Elise were sold with Toyota (Elise), GM (Opel Speedster), electric (Tesla) and even Volkswagen Group (Melkus) engines. Lotus likely has the development resources to affordably change up the engine to suit Spyker’s needs.

In the end, our investigation revealed more clues, but we’re not exactly ready to suggest a conclusion in either direction. Whatever or whichever the case, clearly Spyker has a development partner or leg up as there’s no way they could have gotten the B6 together in such a short amount of time. Where it goes from here remains to be seen but we’d be curious to hear your own hypotheses. If you care to share, post them in The Car Lounge discussion forum linked below.

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