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by Tim Beissmann

The Imperia GP plug-in hybrid has been launched in Europe, taking the fight up to fellow neo-retro designs from brands like Morgan and Weismann.

Officially unveiled at the Belgian Auto Show last month, the Imperia GP marks the reintroduction of the Belgian manufacturer, which produced vehicles in Europe between 1906 and 1948.

From the outside, it looks like Imperia hasn’t come very far after more than 60 years out of business, with the styling very much inspired by the designs of yesteryear. The technology under the bonnet, however, is 100 percent 21st century, making the GP both an eco-warrior and a track-day specialist.

Powering the Imperia GP is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 154kW of power and 250Nm of torque. Teamed with the petrol engine is an electric motor with 100kW and 300Nm. Combined, the two motors help the car accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.0 seconds, or 6.0 seconds in electric-only mode.

Just as impressive is its efficiency. Combined cycle fuel consumption is just 1.9 litres/100km and it emits CO2 at a rate less than 50g/km. Its zero-emissions all-electric range is 70km, and a full recharge of the lithium-polymer battery pack takes just four and a half hours.

Imperia says it has created an interior that is deliberately austere:

“Amateurs and those nostalgic for purely sports driving will discover a level of pleasure that sometimes seems lessened by the different electronic “support” systems that more ordinary vehicles are filled with.

“On board the Imperia GP, the driver becomes the pilot again.”

Those after driver assist devices can still order them as options.

The chassis is a steel space-frame construction and includes a safety cage. The suspension is double wishbone and the wheels are 18-inch alloys.

The Imperia GP officially goes on sale in 2012 priced at 89,950 euros ($121,000), although those who can’t wait can get their hands on the first edition model this year for 120,360 euros ($162,000).




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