Track Day Icons: Gumpert Apollo

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Beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all, the Apollo is still quite a thing both off and on the track.

With its leather seats, gullwing doors and actual roof, the Apollo is slightly different from the other cars in this series. But the Apollo was designed for the track, and it is every bit as at home on the track as anything else here. Named for the Greek deity in charge of (among other things) victory, the Apollo might be better suited to the street than other track day cars, but this takes nothing from its track abilities. Gumpert is named for Roland Gumpert, a former Audi engineer who is more or less responsible for the development of Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

That's a pretty impressive thing to have on your resume, and it should give you a pretty good idea of the sort of engineering mind which set about creating the Apollo. It is, however, important to note that this specific train of thought did not go into the building of the Apollo, as the car is available only with rear-wheel-drive. Understandably, Gumpert borrowed heavily from the Audi parts bin when building the Apollo. This includes the 4.2-liter V8, which has been twin-turbocharged for the Apollo. This is similar to the setup in the C5 RS6, but here it produces much, much more power. How much power it produces depends on which trim level you choose.

Starting with the 650 horsepower "base" version of the car, there is also a 750hp trim and then comes the track-only Apollo R and its 850 horsepower. The only available transmission is a twin-plate manual sequential, but customers can actually specify the ratios they would like in it. In case it isn't obvious just from looking at it, aerodynamics were the first priority when designing the Apollo, and it is almost punishingly aerodynamic. It is one of the few road cars in the world which can theoretically be driven upside down at speeds over 120mph, although nobody has tried this yet, and we don't suggest you try it either.

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On the subject of the design, Gumpert insisted from the outset that the car should be "gorgeous". We'll let you decide for yourselves whether he accomplished this. Whatever you think of the looks, the Apollo is an extremely capable machine. In addition to the huge amounts of power generated by the engine and incredibly aerodynamic body, the Apollo has one of the stiffest frames of any road car. And, naturally, a car like this wouldn't be complete with pushrod-actuated suspension all around. This all comes together exceptionally well on the track, and the Apollo even held the record for fastest lap time on the Top Gear test track for a time.

It is currently in the number five position, and it should be noted that the Apollo S which set that time might be the fastest street-legal Apollo, but there is a faster track model available. As far as road use goes, it's not your best bet. Sure, none of the cars in this series should be your first choice for picking up groceries, but neither do any of the rest make any kind of effort in that area. The leather on the seats simply covers carbon fiber racing buckets, and a quick glance around the cockpit reveals most of simpler components to have been borrowed from much cheaper Audi models.

That said, you've got a radio, A/C, power windows and a navigation system. For such an unapologetically track focused car, that's a lot more equipment than most would expect. So the Apollo isn't a Pagani, but if you were looking to compare it to one, you're looking at it the wrong way. Pagani is effective at competing in the hyper car niche because their cars aren't just fast, but are also works of art, a good way to show off. The Apollo simply won't impress your date the way a Pagani would, especially the interior, but Gumpert was looking to do something else.

The way to look at the Apollo is to be amazed by how much stuff you get on your track car, rather than how little there is on your road car. It might sound like a cop-out to say something like this, but you're talking about one of the fastest street-legal cars in the world, you're allowed to make some concessions. Now for the unpleasant part. Regular CarBuzz readers will know that Gumpert recently filed for insolvency. The problems stem from issues with trying to enter the Chinese market, potentially a very lucrative one, provided you don't overextend yourself.

The company isn't necessarily doomed, rather getting a restructuring, but the future is in question for them. Let's all hope they can recover from this incident, as it would be a shame for the makers of such an incredible car to go under.


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