Heavy Metal Affliction - W Motors Interview
You may have noticed the 2016 W Motors Lykan HyperSport leads off the January Polo Red Car Pack. To celebrate the Lykan’s entry into the Forza Motorsport 6 garage we recently had a chance to talk with Ralph Debbas, who started W Motors seven years ago at age 22, as well as others at Arabia’s supercar company to get a better understanding of what it takes to build one of the most expensive cars in the world.
Heavy Metal Affliction:
Is the Lykan HyperSport all about the bling? Or was its design first and foremost about performance?
The Lykan HyperSport can be described as a beauty and a beast! It has the bling, as it is a very unique limited and luxurious creation, with an extreme design that is very complimentary to its performance. So basically, I believe it is a perfect combination of all three. However, at first, the Lykan was mostly about designing an incredible-looking machine; the performance followed along the development.
HMA: How does W Motors read the supercar/hypercar market?
WM: W Motors sees that there is a clear gap in the market of supercars/hypercars. Some supercars are into mass production and this really defies the purpose of feeling special. While on the other hand, there is a handful of hypercar makers which can be split into sections, the pure performance and the pure luxury. W Motors is trying to establish itself as a perfect combination between the two, while keeping its cars very limited.
HMA: What were the primary drivers that influenced the cosmetic design?
WM: The Wolf! The W Motors vehicles Lykan and Fenyr are derived from wolves, as the names might suggest. But the story doesn’t stop there, as the wolf can be a very elegant creature and a very ferocious one at the same time. The Lykan’s design fits the profile of a wolf’s face, as it is sharp, daring, and focused.
HMA: What drove the performance goals?
WM: You cannot create a hypercar without putting performance as a top priority! We made sure the Lykan HyperSport had numbers to match its reputation. A car like this would not do with average figures and we believe that achieving all this with a flat-six boxer type engine makes it even more special. Our partnership with RUF Automobile Germany helped us accomplish incredible performance, all while creating a pure driving machine.
HMA: The Lykan HyperSport is very aggressive in appearance. How does its form convert to a performance enhancer?
WM: What the public sees is a variety of shapes, angles, and ducts. However, each of these components translate directly into the performance of this machine, be it from aerodynamics, intake, brake cooling, and weight distribution. The car [body] is completely made from carbon fiber, making an ultra-light body with 50/50 weight distribution and mid-rear engine. The perfect balance for a unique driving experience.
HMA: Who has driven the HyperSport from the automotive press? Where was the shakedown, skid pad, and testing conducted?
WM: There has been no official test drives by the press as we only have the prototype available now and I doubt that any of the owners of this car would trust anyone with it. However, there has been two notable test drives done. The RUF test drivers tore the track apart stating this one of the best cars they had driven. Secondly, in a private event on YAS Marina UAE, the Lykan HyperSport performed with a bang. The professional race driver went to do 195 laps on the same tires with no overheating and magical performance. Everybody in attendance was in awe including ourselves. Besides that, our cars are always tested either in Germany (on the Autobahn) or in Italy (Nardo).
HMA: Tell us about the exterior design. What does it reflect? What is the form intended to convey?
WM: As mentioned before, the Lykan HyperSport’s design is inspired by the wolf. However, it reflects many things for someone driving it: success, power, elegance, and seriousness. It is the sort of vehicle that can be seen as a limited piece of art and a raw driving machine at the same time, something most hypercar designs these days lack as they focus on one of these two aspects at the expense of the other.
HMA: What drove the choices to go with a RUF powerplant? What else has RUF contributed to the HyperSport? Other drivetrain elements?
WM: Needless to say, RUF is a legend in the automotive world. Performance and perfection being the most common words that can sum up this company. RUF has developed our engine and lightweight aluminum tubular chassis specifically for the Lykan to make sure it can live up to the expectations of our young company. So having partners like RUF really reflects on the company goals and the very serious approach we have towards not taking any shortcuts when it comes to performance.
HMA: Will we see the Lykan HyperSport or the next car from W Motors in the U.S.? What are the barriers to bring your product to the States?
WM: The Lykan HyperSport has been to the states on numerous occasions. Last year it participated in the Concours D’Elegance at Pebble Beach and the McCall event and some other private events around California and Miami, so there are no barriers whatsoever. As for the production, we are working closely with the DOT to have special homologation for two of our Lykans that should be roaming around the USA within a year, hopefully, going to very special clients. As our production is extremely limited, it is easier for us to get approval on our cars to be registered in the USA. However, all our cars are Euro 5 and Euro 6 homologated from our factory in Europe.
HMA: Can you explain the market the Lykan HyperSport appeals to?
WM: The Lykan HyperSport market is a very niche one. Our clients are very special car collectors and car enthusiasts that appreciate quality when they see it! We do not market ourselves as competitors to any other car brand; in fact, we see it as friendly competition and we try to bring out the best in each other. Our average client already owns most of the cars on the market and wants to add something more special and more limited to the collection.
HMA: The Lykan HyperSport made quite a splash in the film Furious 7. Can you tell us how the car was utilized? Was one actually destroyed in the movie?
WM: Actually ten Lykans were destroyed for the film. The Fast and Furious franchise is really the benchmark for car movies and they approached us in 2013 to feature the Lykan as the hero car of the movie. It was a win-win situation, as we got incredible exposure and brand recognition while they had fun destroying one of the most expensive cars in the world!
HMA: Dubai seems a rightful home to a supercar manufacturer. Is it also an economically sensible place to operate a car manufacturer? What makes Dubai a perfect home for W Motors?
WM: As Lebanese, we were first based in Lebanon. However, the economic and political unrest in our country made us look elsewhere. Dubai was the perfect home away from home as it has laid a foundation where you can build from and any dream can be achieved. On the other hand, Dubai is the world leader in luxury markets and exposure. For us this is a very important aspect given our products. It is quite expensive, but you get your money’s worth. As a brand representing the whole Arab world, there is not better place than the UAE to call home for W Motors. We are actually expanding our operations locally to setup our manufacturing facility in Dubai along with the first Academy of Arts in the region. A pioneer project in the Arab world.
HMA: Forza Motorsport is truly a driver’s racing game. Our players know cars and appreciate performance. What do you think they will like most about the Lykan HyperSport?
WM: Indeed, Forza and its players will really know the difference between a good car and a great car. I believe what makes the Lykan HyperSport great is the massive power it has. However, the real appreciation of the Lykan will be when they realize how so much power can be accompanied by so much grip and amazing turn-in accuracy with handling that a couple of years ago did not exist with cars holstering engines that powerful.
HMA: Since most people will never set eyes on a car of this caliber, how does W Motors feel about the kind of exposure having the Lykan HyperSport in Forza Motorsport 6 offers?
WM: If you think about it, we were all once kids and this passion started from somewhere. Now I know most Forza players are not kids, however, this drive is in every person out there. To have the chance to reach out to so many people and share the experiences of the Lykan HyperSport is truly a pleasurable experience for us. We have worked so hard on this masterpiece but only seven lucky clients will have the pleasure to enjoy it. So, a game like Forza truly can make everyone experience first hand what it feels like to own the Lykan HyperSport.
HMA: Does W Motors have plans to race the Lykan HyperSport? What series would it compete in?
WM: W Motors has already started on its racing pedigree; we have plans to participate in endurance races using never-seen-before technologies. For more details, you will have to wait and see!
HMA: Does W Motors believe the racetrack is a place to build a heritage? If not, where does the Lykan HyperSport prove its worth?
WM: Of course, the race track is a very important place for building a heritage and this is why we have partnered with some automotive legends (RUF and Magna Steyr) that can help us further develop based on their experience and knowledge. And with the Lykan HyperSport, test drives on tracks have been going on for a while to make sure this beauty can prove itself among the best in the world!
HMA: Can you talk about the services that come with the Lykan HyperSport?
WM: The Lykan HyperSport comes with a one-off, custom made watch for each car, flying doctors [a team of specially-trained W Motors technicians] that will come to assist you anywhere in the world in case something breaks down, and a worldwide concierge service that meets all the needs of any VIP.
HMA: The Lykan HyperSport is the first car to come with a watch that we can recall. Tell us about the watch’s features.
WM: The watch that comes with the Lykan HyperSport is a very special $200,000 watch that is fully custom to the car. Note that it cannot be bought in the market! The watch is specially designed for W Motors by Franck Muller and has the Lykan Logo along with a very similar design to the car. The color of each watch matches the car it will be delivered with… So it really is a unique experience for our clients that tend to really enjoy this feeling of being special because they truly are!