2019 Vanderhall Venice Speedster Review: Simplify and Add Lightness
Vanderhall Venice Speedster has seating for just one, and may be the ultimate sixth car to add to your dream garage.
At first glance, the semi-metallic silver paint job has me thrown off. In front of me, a new Vanderhall Venice Speedster beams in the early morning Southern California sunlight. I am thrown off because, with that first glance, the retro styled Speedster, which could pass as 1950s space rocket, looks as though it has been honed from raw aluminum. It has an undeniable sense of style and presence, unlike much of anything else on the road.
This isn’t the first time 6SpeedOnline has featured a Vanderhall Venice. In fact, yours truly reviewed one back in 2017. It was both a lot of fun, and capable of garnering a lot of attention. So, nearly two years later, Vanderhall has returned with another Venice, however, this one bears a different logo on the side, it says “Speedster.”
So what is it? Well, like the the Venice upon which it’s based, the Speedster is a three-wheeled, specialty vehicle, made by Utah-based boutique manufacturer Vanderhall. It features a General Motors-sourced turbocharged engine, a bespoke interior, a cantilever front suspension, not unlike a Formula 1 car, and rear swingarm suspension, like a motorcycle. Crucially, the Venice Speedster is front-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $26,950, though, this one is almost fully-loaded, ringing in at a sneeze under $30,000. Oh, and it only has one seat, and no roof.
It’s a lot of money for a weekend toy, but it’s worth noting that the single-seater Speedster is $3,000 less than the standard two-seater Venice. The company has sought out to simplify and add lightness, and removing the passenger seat, and de facto, a heavy second person, is a straightforward way to accomplish that. However, considering that the standard Venice has a claimed dry weight of just 1,375-lbs (about 1,450 in a usable weight with things like engine oil and fuel), one can’t help but wonder how much lighter the Speedster can be.
At first take, the Venice Speedster feels just like the standard Venice, which means that it’s a lot of fun around town.
The turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine is the star of the show here, and impossible to ignore. It is tuned to produce 180-horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque, thanks to a custom air intake, intercooler, ECU and exhaust system. Like most small, turbocharged engines, the Speedster’s power comes in a big wallop as the car comes on to boost around 2,000 RPM. Maximum RPM is quoted at 6,500, though, again, like most small, turbocharged engines the power falls off noticeably over about 5,500 RPM. Vanderhall claims a 0-60 time of just 4.5-seconds.
Of course, the 6-speed automatic transmission, again GM-sourced, has pretty quick gear spacing, making it easy to keep that little turbo spooled up and in the fun zone. This Speedster has the optional “bump shifter,” which affords it a manual mode to control gear changes on your own. This seems to be, in my opinion, a necessary add-on for any Venice model, to liven up the experience.
As previously mentioned, Vanderhall takes that 1.4-liter mill and adds their own personal touch to it, and, as a result, the Speedster has a rip roaring personality to it. As soon as the engine is running, it’s authoritatively loud, all the time. On throttle, the induction note is crisp. It helps that Vanderhall conveniently routes their air intake directly in front of the driver. The exhaust note is charming, and downright mean sounding at full throttle, though, as previously stated, it’s always present.
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