Wiesmann – Fresh and Brilliant
The recently released “Wiesmann GT” is probably one of the best vehicles that you’ve never heard of. It’s a crying shame that prospective American buyers will never even have the chance to purchase a Wiesmann as they are not available in North America, nor does the company have any rush priorities to make it so. A bloody shame, no doubt!
Wiesmann might be new to us North Americans, but the fact is that “Wiesmann Ltd” was actually founded in 1985 (by Martin and Freidhelm Wiesmann – hence the “MF” badge which every model wears) in nowhere other than Dülmen, Germany. That’s right, this British-looking, Jaguar/Triumph- inspired beast comes from the Fatherland and it’s got the technology and packaging to prove it. Modern German mechanicals and classic British looks produce a winning combination in this case.
When originally shopped up in ’85, Wiesmann’s primary running operations served as an after-market tuner for all things BMW related. However, as the 90’s approached Wiesmann leaned upon their vast experience and connections with BMW to create a vehicle of their own, using many BMW components. Europeans (specifically Germans), know this vehicle as the “MF3 Roadster”. Since its release in 1993, Wiesmann has successfully been able to sell over 500 units and hence, establish a loyal fan base across Europe.
For years and years the MF3 had done its part to keep Wiesmann jolly good, but eventually the company decided they could focus efforts on creating a new vehicle. Initially, the idea for the “MF4 GT” was brought up in 2002 as a homologated road version of the race prepped MF3 which had been competing in the Nurburgring 24 hour race for a number of years by that point. With the introduction of the MF4, Wiesmann was able to explore a category which they hadn’t before, the Grand Tourer.
In terms of exterior styling there isn’t a great deal to separate it from the roadster variant, not that that’s an issue as both are stunning. While Wiesmann felt it was important retain many of the MF3’s characteristics, it hasn’t stopped them from making the MF4 essentially a new vehicle. You can see the MF4 GT shares family traits with the MF3, those first traits being the swollen fenders and curved bonnet, however take a closer look and you’ll see the headlamps are a different design – forming what resembles an arachnids eyes. Aside from that the centre grill has been redesigned with a smaller shape (which in turn adds more style), the bottom front bumper now features a specially designed undertray and lastly, the mirrors have been put upon the body using polished chrome stocks. Even the gracious rump has been given a make-over with an opening glass rear hatch and a slight redesign through out the tail lamps. Through and through the new MF4 features many tidbits which not only make it different from its counterpart, but even better looking.
It’s all retro in all design, while still managing to carry many of Wiesmann’s individual traits and specialties. The interior is no less lavish as it’s a festival of fine stitched leather, aluminum and chrome. Honestly, the overall cabin design is near identical to the roadster variant. Not that this is a bad thing, as it features all of those quirky things which most modern vehicle do not have, like an oil gauge and oil temperature gauge. Although Wiesmann wanted to make sure the MF4 was a better all around “cruiser” so as a result they fitted it standard with power operated windows, an air-conditioning system and the same “Becker Traffic Pro SatNav” found in the Pagani Zonda. I know what you’re thinking, those are common features on most vehicles, but you must understand that most of those particular items are either options or not available at all on the MF3. After all, the roadster wasn’t built to be a Bentley Arnage T, it was built as a hardcore, no-frills sports car.
Don’t be fooled though with the additional interior amenities though, Wiesmann’s vehicles are setup with sports car in mind, so neither the MF4 or MF3 feature airbags of any sort.
Don’t worry though, Wiesmann hasn’t decided to be cheap about the MF4 and simply redesign the body while leaving the electronics and what-not identical to the lesser model. The new MF4 was intended as a GT vehicle and that’s precisely why it’s 1.18 inches taller, 4.33 inches wider and 15 inches longer than it’s sister roadster. Even its petrol tank gets an increase of 2.64 gallons of gas to accommodate those long trips one might wish to take in it. The addition of the rear hatch also means one is able to bring some luggage along with them.
It’s clear they’ve really “gone to town” with the MF4 and that carries on with the technological features too. Unlike the Roadster, the GT is based on a state of the art epoxy bonded aluminum chassis tub with unique front double wishbone suspension castings (similar to that of a Lotus Elise). For comparison, the MF3 roadster relied on a simple steel tubular chassis and shared its front suspension with a BMW E46 M3. With the addition of the exterior body being completed from fibre glass the MF4 manages to weigh just 2,844lbs (1290kg) with a full tank of gas. For comparison, a 2007 Porsche 911 Carrera S with optional carbon ceramic brake rotors weighs 3,225lbs (1463kg)
In the past, when it came to propulsion Wiesmann leaned upon BMW because of their vast stock of inline six cylinder engines. For the MF4, Wiesmann was able to secure BMW’s 4.8 litre eight-cylinder found in vehicles such as the 650Ci, 550i, 750i and the restyled X5 SUV. This V8 churns out a maximum of 360bhp (367PS) and 362lb-ft (490nm) of torque which peaks at 3,400 rpm. If demanded, the power surge and curve can actually be increased with the press of the “Sport” button upon the center console. Performance claims are as follows: 0-62mph (100 km/h) in just 4.8 seconds and a unrestricted top speed of 175 mph.
That’s great in all, but how does it drive? Well I’m sad to say that I have not have the opportunity to drive one (and have little chance to do so living in North America) so I can only speculate on what the majority of other magazines have said. British magazine, “EVO” stated “The Wiesmann produces none of the understeer you might expect from a front engine car; the cabin is low slung with excellent ergonomics and quality to high levels”. “Sports Car International” said no less of the GT stating it was served its purpose as an all-around GT amazingly well. Based on the various reviews which the MF4 has completed it appears Wiesmann has been able to make a grand tourer which is not only great as a “GT”, but as a sports car. In the sports car world such a blend is an achievement and very few manufacturers have been able to successfully mold those two particular qualities.
The whole package is enough to make any automotive enthusiasts’ mouth water, but even more so when you find out Wiesmann is planning to develop a V10 powered MF4. Various test mules have already been caught in action sporting the 10 cylinder found in the E60 M5.
What Wiesmann has been able to achieve in such a short time is nothing short of amazing. For a company with small resources they’ve gone to extreme lengths to make a successful new vehicle out an already existing model. They could have renamed the car and said it was a different car – but they didn’t, which also shows some restraint not often seen in the car business.
My advice is if you’re living in Europe and are looking for a new coupe with a price tag around the €100k mark, check Wiesmann out. >>