We happen, from time to time, to do a few spins on the wheel of sports versions of production models.
We also sometimes sit in concept cars, at trade shows or static events.
But driving at full speed, on a circuit, in a concept car showing off a future production model, that’s pretty rare.
But this is what was suggested to us by Cuprawho invited us to Spain, to the Formula 1 circuit in Catalunya, for a (very small) test.
The Spanish sports brand has not done anything like the others. Indeed, to announce its future electric city car, the Urban rebelscheduled for 2025, has decided to release a radical super sports car concept, with an extreme look, called Urbanrebel Racing, and it was presented for the first time at the Munich Motor Show 2021. Oh yes!
And it is the last one, made in 2 copies, that we were able to test on a small part of the Catalan route.
It’s designed for a rally, not a full song
That thing is serious. Even for 2 small circuits, all safety conditions must be respected. Twenty minutes before the place reserved for us in the circle (5:00 to 9 pm), we leave, me and my fellow journalists, getting ready from head to toe. Fireproof suit and helmet, FIA helmet, we’re in the shower immediately.
And towards the meeting, with beautiful people as “trainers”: Jordi Géné and Adrien Tambay (yes, son of Patrick Tambay (former F1 driver), and ETCR 2022 world champion), who are official Cupra drivers in ETCR ward.
So we will take part of the Catalan F1 circuit, before leaving … to take part in the dirt! Don’t be surprised, because in fact, this Urbanrebel Racing is not a pure machine, it is a cross-conference machine! And that changes everything, we’ll see later.
In operation, nothing could be simpler. We settle down, tighten the 5-point Sabelt strap properly, put our foot on the brake, press the Drive, and shoot my chicken. Therefore, we are far from the sometimes very difficult operation of hot machines, where you have to manage the truck clutch, or the dog box. There, there is only an accelerator pedal, a brake, and that’s it. Well, that’s the theory
Spectacular scenery, equally impressive riders
From there, what gear do we have? This concept has a length of 4.25 m, a width of 1.98 m, and a height of 1.46 m. It sports a rough, understated look. The front shield is messy, largely perforated. It is surrounded by a hood with quick joints, and eyes with a triangular light signature, which will usually be found on the last car. The side walls have a raised enclosure, on which is affixed a large Cupra logo. On the roof, the air intake is used to cool the mechanics while it is at the back that the most interesting thing is obvious: the big “pie shovel” fin, which includes the lights.
Honestly, it throws, especially since the original clothing, and the changing colors, and the many fluorescent yellow dots on the body work give a very successful 3D effect.
Mechanically, the specs are bad too. All-wheel drive, 250 kW continuous and 320 kW peak electric motor (ie 340 hp and 435 hp respectively!), torque 510 Nm, 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, and electronic top speed of 170 km/h h. The weight is also moderate, at 1,230 kg excluding the driver. And a battery with a capacity of 30 kWh (764 V design) allows freedom … which depends on what you do!
A short but intense experience
And all this is not only on paper. This concept works, of course, and works well. When it’s my turn, I walk around the booth, and, comfortably seated in the heavily padded OMP bucket seats, helmet intercom plugged in (Jordi Géné teaches me from a distance during my lap), I press the Save button, and Let’s Go.
The first round is there to take its marks. What I do with caution. I don’t know the car or the road.
However, pressing the right pedal already produces a strong thrust, with a noise far from that of a V6 or V8, but very close to that of a Dyson vacuum cleaner, or an Airbus turbine, of choice. Not so bad, nor silent for that matter, in the end.
But there is something strange. I understand very quickly that this feeling comes from the fact that the two pedals are very close to each other, but above all, that the pedals are completely changed to the left!
As a result, in the first brake before the chicane of the cone before the big left of our section, instead of the brake, I press the accelerator pedal again! Yes, it is surprising … Especially since the riders are very alert.
So, once my feet were back in front of the right pedals, I had to brake harder than expected. Which allows me to see that in fact, Urbanrebel Racing is not started as a track car, but as a protest group. The suspension is very easy, and the mass transfer is violent. So the rear loads too much, and it starts to slip. In the hood, Jordi asks me to calm down … Yes, yes, finally, you didn’t want it, huh! Put the pedal in front of the pilot, it wouldn’t happen (and discussing with your colleagues, I think we all allowed ourselves to be fooled or almost…).
After the chicane, it is a big slope to the left and a slope (turn 12 of the circuit, which you take down, called Banc de Sabadell), then a hairpin on the left, and you leave the track to enter the part of the land, which includes. in advance, which you can take away, or at least a lot of weight. Then we get a song.
So the grip differences are very large, which makes the rally very difficult.
Happiness and frustration
The second lap gives me the opportunity to push the car a little more. In direct, the peak of 435 hp is there, and it causes. There is no loss of traction, however, thanks to the 4-wheel drive and semi-slick tires that the car is equipped with. The steering is very precise, and responds to the smallest millimeter of the given angle.
In a short time, we exceed 120/125 km / h. Braking on the seed chicane is going better this time, and it shows that yes, the back lightens, yes, the car rolls, but still perfectly glued to the track, at least at my speed. The big left is swallowed twice as fast as in the first round. At the top of a hairpin, it applies the brakes without a problem, no need to use the handbrake. I widened the path a little bit, because I took the rope too early, and the grip is worse than on the track, that’s obvious. But it remains surprising, knowing that we are emerging on wet land. And motor skills are guaranteed, despite the large torque.
I’m approaching the bumps there faster than on the first lap, not leaving anyway, but it loads well. And when I’m just starting to tame the animal, it’s time to stop… Pffff.
As exciting as it is frustrating, you might imagine. So I press the neutral button and really want to leave for 4 or 5 cycles. But you should leave the battery for friends. And it remains a rare and intense experience, even if it is very short.
All this for what?
There is one better question. All this for what? Just to have fun on the circuit? Nope. As we have seen, the Urbanrebel Racing concept is the very first inspiration for what will be the future Cupra electric city car, the basis of which will be used for all electric city cars of the Volkswagen group (including the future ID). However, it is a distant inspiration, aesthetically and technically of course. It’s also an opportunity to try and get experience on the powertrain, which could perhaps find a place under the hood of the brand’s future sports cars?
Close to the future reality is the concept, which is also on the premises, of Urbanrebel “very short”. We already presented it to you some time ago. If it takes the main lines of the Competition model, it is short (4.04 m), and aesthetically and technically it is more in line with the last model (gravity, up to 234 hp, 440 km of freedom, 0 to 100 in. 6.9 seconds).
At the end of the day, during the night, the organizers place two models next to each other in a direct line of rotation. An opportunity to take one last beautiful photo before closing this special day, even for a novice journalist.