Magnum, a small Canadian race-car builder founded by Jean-Pierre St-Jacques in the late 1960s, has a history of successful open-wheel designs; Gilles Villeneuve even raced one. But now the firm wants to step up beyond its homeland: Please welcome the Magnum Mk5, Canada's first ever track-focused supercar aiming to cross international waters.
In the same vein as the BAC Mono, a street legal track-car from Britain, the Mk5 was designed with an open cockpit and narrow proportions. Unlike the Mono, the bodywork looks slightly more car-like than race-ready; although perhaps spaceship-like would be more appropriate. Rear mounting a 4-cylinder engine meshed to a rear-wheel drive platform and a six-speed sequential gearbox revving to 11,000 rpm, the lightweight carbon-fiber bodywork helps keep the car's weight to a slender 1,200 lbs. Boasting 240 hp from its lifted Suzuki Hayabusa motor, its power-to-weight ratio equals 460 hp per ton.
That should, in theory, provide immense handling; with cornering forces tipping 2Gs, the Mk5 could be a serious weapon. It certainly is in terms of acceleration, bursting to 62 mph in a scant 3.2 seconds, before topping out at 150 mph. And with its limited-slip differential and two-way adjustable dampers, on the surface, the Mk5 boasts the right ingredients.
Arriving standard with a data system, a wheel-mounted dash with lap timer, a rear-view camera and a removable steering wheel, the track-day warrior needn't rethink their Christmas list. It even has storage for two helmets and a briefcase.
But what about the price? Well, it's $139,000. Which is a lot. But when you consider the performance, it's not a bad deal; the Mk5 should lap considerably faster than a Porsche 911 GT3 and yet cost less. Producing a maximum of 20 vehicles worldwide per year, and with Magnum claiming to have orders in hand, expect cars to begin rolling out late 2014. How successful the carmaker will be with the track-day crowd remains to be seen. But the Canadians have grabbed our attention.
- Gilles Villeneuve