Sunday 28 November 2010

2012 SSC Ultimate Aero II

Exterior Design

The outgoing Ultimate Aero was very generic in its looks. The body, like the rest of the car, was designed by company owner Jerod Shelby (no relation to muscle car legend Carroll Shelby). He admits that the need for slippery aerodynamics governed the outcome of the final product and being an engineer by trade, design wasn’t his greatest strength. Enter Italian American designer Jason Castriota who, in the beginning, had reservations about taking on the project. We couldn’t really blame him after looking at his impressive resume. He has penned cars for the very best in the industry: Ferrari, Pininfarina, Rolls Royce, and Bertone to name but a few. The last thing his career needed was to design a car destined for failure for a small company with more hopes than money or brains. After a visiting the facility and getting to know the staff and more importantly, their ideals and the car, he took the plunge and created what you see before you.


The outcome is breathtaking, especially once you peel the body work away to reveal how technically challenging it was to overcome the dreaded forces of nature at 200+mph, whilst packaging the required mechanical components. It is the ultimate example of form meeting function, to create a harmonious whole. We like the black teardrop shaped canopy that sits on top of the white exterior, creating a stunning contrast of power and beauty. The shape is classic and pivotal, and has a very low drag co-efficient. The car features dihedral stabilizers or wings that have been borrowed from the realm of aviation. The term “flying buttress” might be construed as a being a bit naughty, but they are actually wings that help support the structure of the car. In this case, they are those bits on the side of the SSC Aero II, which channel air towards the engine intakes – a Castriota design signature.


The front looks intimidating and purposeful with its low slung nose and carbon fiber headlights. Looking closely, you’ll notice venting for the carbon brakes and a cohesive front splitter that generates enough downforce to keep the nose planted at speed. There is no hood or luggage space, or any kind of compromise with this car. The side profile is sleek and sexy – there are no door handles or side repeaters and the car barely stands over a meter tall. Massive lower recesses house air intakes in front of the rear wheel arches and feed the ravenous engine and cooling radiators with much-needed cold air, while doing its bit to balance the look. It checks all the hypercar boxes and then some. Elements of the first Aero are maintained, most notably the party piece doors and simple-spoked wheel design. The latter being the first ever one piece carbon fiber wheels ever fitted to a car. They are products of Australian company, Carbon Revolution, and the 19" fronts weigh just 5.8kg each.


The entire body and chassis, save for front and rear impact zones, are all made from carbon fiber - further emphasizing lightness as key. This is not necessarily for top speed, but more for everyday driving and handling. All mid-engined cars require apertures in the bodywork to help get rid of heat – they usually take the form of slats or louvers but since this car is anything but, it features circular cut outs in various diameters to expel heat and generate pub controversy. Moving to the other-worldly rear, dynamics take over, with aesthetics playing second fiddle. The entire under floor of the car is sealed leading up to the rear which functions as the mother of all diffusers, complete with F1-style exhaust. From this angle, it does bear slight resemblance to an R8 and by slight, we mean slight – the proportions and shapes are similar. Between the rear stabilizers is a hydraulically operated air brake – ala Bugatti Veyron and Merc SLR that comes into play at higher-than-allowed speeds. Dimension wise, the Aero II is slightly more narrow than before to comply with FIA GT regulations, should they decide to race it.



The interior remains a bit of a mystery – probably because it isn’t 100% finished yet - but we could have a guess as to what to expect. There will be room for two with all the necessary creature comforts like seatbelts and aircon. We wouldn’t bet on heated and electric massaging seats just yet. Judging from the old model, whose interior was pretty sloppy, the new car’s interior has to be better and get the basics right. We believe the design will be based around a large central LCD display and have better quality finishes – after all this car does cost a smidgen under $1 million.



Do you really have to ask? The numbers on paper are staggering enough – even before getting to actual performance times and stats. The proposed record breaker is powered by a quad-cam, twin-turbo V8 displacing 6.8 liters. The engine, like all the other mechanical parts, are all developed in-house by SSC themselves. The new powerplant shares a lot with the old 6.2 liter item – the block and its innards are the same design, so are the dimensions and location of its 10 radiators. Changes come in the form of a four-valves-per-cylinder overhead cam (OHC) setup as opposed to push rods and new SSC spec turbochargers. The new setup is good for a colossal 1350HP and will rev to 9000RPM! Zero to 62mph will arrive in around 2.8 seconds and SSC claims a top speed of, wait for it, 275mph! The in gear acceleration figures are not known as of yet, but you can be sure they will be absolutely mind blowing. Thank goodness the new car will feature traction control, ABS with servo assistance, and Brembo carbon ceramic stoppers. We can’t even begin to imagine letting that kind of power loose on public roads without fear of being apprehended by the long arm of the law while experiencing acceleration that will rip your face off. This thing should sound the way it goes – an all turbo whoosh and snarling, angry V8.
Because it’s RWD rather than 4WD like our friend the Veyron, it’s lighter...much lighter. The Aero II weighs 1200kgs, a full 638kgs lighter than the comparatively pudgy Bugatti – and it produces more power. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the power to weight ratio is over 1000HP per tonne, putting it in the league of the Caparo T1. Where the Bugatti is luxurious, refined, and civilized to drive, the Aero II is raucous, unforgiving, and about as scary as a getting a shave from Edward Scissorhands.
Suspension remains as the same coilover setup and so does the triple plate carbon clutch. Whether it’s as good at going round corners as it is in a straight line still remains to be seen. One thing is for certain though, it will set your trousers on fire every time you use the pedal on the right.


In short, there is none other competition except for the Veyron SS and it costs $2.4 million, more than twice the price of the $970,000 Aero II. You could also buy a Koenigsegg Agera, but the price is unconfirmed and so is the top speed. The cars should be closely pegged, but we guess it depends on personal preference and if you’re into the whole “mine’s bigger than yours” thing. Let’s hope the Aero II will not squeak, rattle, or fall apart like so many other cars made by small firms in small numbers. The first cars will be delivered to their proud new owners around the last quarter of 2011.
Only time will tell whether SSC will bring the top speed crown back to the US.



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