2018 Saleen S1 Packs In-House Developed Inline-4 Turbo, Will Be Made In China

2018 Saleen S1 5 photos
Photo: Saleen
2018 Saleen S12018 Saleen S12018 Saleen S12018 Saleen S1
Established in the early 1980s as Saleen Autosport, the Corona-based business soon got a taste for the aftermarket and OEM development. In the year 2000, Saleen debuted its first mid-engine design in the form of the S7 supercar, but the Ford tuner turned manufacturer knew all too well that it can’t live through its past glories. This gets us to the present day and the S1, which made its world premiere at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
First things first, why does it resemble the Henrik Fisker-penned Artega GT? That’s because Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Group, the Chinese corporation that owns the design for the GT, provides the capital for S1 production. In the first instance, the lightweight sports car will be manufactured in North America, with the Jiangsu Saleen joint venture scheduled to take over in 2019 at the company’s Chinese plant in Rugao.

Developed as a strict two-seater, the S1 features an aluminum chassis wrapped in carbon fiber. This, in turn, translates to a ridiculously low weight (2,685 pounds/1,218 kilograms) and exciting handling dynamics. The rear axle, complemented by 20-inch wheels, is driven by a turbo’d 2.5-liter four-cylinder that isn’t sourced from Ford.

Saleen claims its an in-house developed engine, capable of producing 450 horsepower and 350 pound-feet (475 Nm). The latter figure is most interesting, for it matches the latest version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost found in the 2018 Mustang. A six-speed manual comes as standard, with Saleen committed to launching a dual-clutch transmission at some point in the future.

Performance is, as expected, up there with the best the segment has to offer. 3.5 seconds to 60 mph (96 km/h), 11.3 seconds for the ¼-mile, 180 mph (290 km/h) on full song, and 1.2 g on the skidpad are the performance figures quoted by Steve Saleen at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show.

The reasoning behind Saleen going downmarket is that the S1 is a volume-oriented product, not an all-out exotic as the S7 before it. The automaker expects to manufacture at least 1,500 examples of the breed per year for the U.S. market, each priced at $100,000. Customers can place a $1,000 deposit on the S1, with deliveries scheduled for the latter part of 2018.

An all-electric S1 will be added to the range late next year.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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