Ares Design founder and former Ferrari and Lotus executive Dany Bahar has taken six years to work his coach-building company up to its first stand-alone supercar, the S1 Project.
That fiscally responsible, organic growth concept is a far cry from his days as Lotus’s CEO, where he delivered an astonishing five concept cars at one Paris Auto Show and promised to build them all.
Lotus built none of them. Bahar left the then Malaysian-owned company in a public blaze of accusation and counter accusation.
And now the ex-Lotus boss Dany Bahar is back and the very name of his new car – the S1 Project – could be seen as a shot at Lotus. After all, the Esprit S1 is seen as one of Lotus’s classic sports cars.
Instead of cowering away, though, he founded Ares Design in 2014 and he did it in Modena, the hometown of Maserati and less than 30km from established supercar makers Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani.
It was initially founded as a coachbuilding and luxury-adding company, but has clearly grown into its surroundings and turned out the first model of the S1 Project.
There’s no hybrid or electric power in the S1 Project, and just 24 of them are planned to be built, though Ares Design has yet to announce a pricetag, nor whether the cars will cross over the Atlantic.
“We are delighted to announce this car, as it marks a new chapter for ARES as it is the first car wholly designed by our team,” Bahar said.
“We did extensive research with our clients and potential clients to find out what they really wanted in a supercar and, time and again, it came back to them wanting to enjoy driving a car; to have fun and not to be worried about power that supercars have.
“So, we set about achieving that. The aim was not to produce the fastest, the lightest or the most technologically advanced supercar; we want to produce a car that our clients want, that is simple and fun to drive and looks simply stunning and with the S1 Project I know we will have achieved just that,” he insisted.
With production due to begin in January, 2021, the S1 Project will have a naturally breathing V8 engine with 522kW (700 horsepower) and an 8800rpm rev limit, and Bahar promises acceleration of 2.7 seconds to 62mph (100km/h).
Ares Design has not suggested who has built the engine for it, but naturally aspirated V8s that rev to 8800rpm are not a common production item in the turbocharged era.
An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission will punch the power to the rear wheels, while the gases exit through an Ares-designed exhaust system.
The car will sit on double-wishbone suspension and controlled by adaptive magnetic-ride damping as Ares sought an uncomplicated experience for its buyers.
Designed in-house, the S1 Project brief was to build something that looked like a hypercar, went like a supercar and only cost like a sportscar.
The design incorporates aerodynamic thinking from the nose to the tail, particularly with its double-deck front splitter and S-duct running up its nose.
It returns the sportscar world to the cab-forward design idea that is only pursued still by Pagani.
The car is built completely in carbon-fibre, with the exhaust exiting from high on the mid-mounted engine cover, while the usual exhaust areas are free to deliver downforce from a large diffuser.
Ares Design is based in a three-level, 18,000 square meter facility in Modena. It has already courted controversy by taking on Ferrari in court over the use of the 250 GTO name.