Saleen Automotive is back with a new supercar, and this time it’s an all-new design that will be somewhat affordable. Priced at $100,000, the 2018 Saleen S1 makes its debut today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, with the first customer deliveries scheduled for “late summer” 2018.
The small, striking car was all designed in-house in the U.S., with a carbon fiber body laid over an aluminum chassis to keep weight to 2,685 pounds (1,218 kilograms). The bodywork was all designed with aerodynamic function first, company founder Steve Saleen said. It’s a pretty design, with graceful curves and an upswept tail, center-exit exhausts, and giant brakes hiding behind 20-inch wheels.
The two-seater, mid-engine car packs a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine that was developed by Saleen. With 450 horsepower (336 kilowatts) and 350 pound-feet (474 Newton-meters) of torque, it’ll get to 60 miles per hour in a claimed 3.5 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds. The top speed is claimed at 180 mph, and Saleen says the S1 pulls 1.2 g of cornering grip on a skidpad, thanks in part to its Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires.
The launch transmission is a six-speed manual, but Saleen says that the company will launch a paddle-shifter dual-clutch option “at some point.”
Inside the car, the simple dashboard consists of a digital instrument cluster behind the small, three-spoke steering wheel, with a secondary infotainment system on the center stack.
On the sidelines of the car’s debut, Steve Saleen said that the reason he wanted to make a more affordable supercar was that it will allow for greater sales and production volumes. He expects to build 1,500-2,000 S1s per year for the U.S., with a similar number for Europe and a “substantial” number for China. Interested customers can place a $1,000 deposit starting today.
The company is in the process of establishing a dealer network, and Saleen says he hopes to have 50 showrooms in the U.S. initially – though he says not every state would receive a showroom.
Though the S1 had been rumored to use an engine sourced from another manufacturer, Saleen says that developing it in-house was a no-brainer because, “you have more control” over its engineering.
Saleen Automotive is now part of Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technologies Group (JSAT), a Chinese company opening an automotive plant two hours north of Shanghai that is planned to build, “an entirely new line of Saleen vehicles.”
The project to launch the S1 actually began three years ago, when Saleen considered redeveloping the remnants of an Artega sports car (the defunct car company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was purchased by JSAT.) But Saleen said that making the car meet modern regulations would have been too difficult, so his company decided to start on a brand-new, ground-up model. The S1, he says, meets all crash and safety regulations in North America, China, and Europe.