Testing times for RML’s new Short Wheelbase

March 24, 2022 By Mike
Last updated on March 24, 2022
  • Pre-production prototype embarks on industry-grade test programme
  • Punishing durability test programme equal to that used by OEMs
  • Pre-test simulation work means only fine-tuning required for chassis

While its design conjures up an image from the golden age of motoring, the new RML Short Wheelbase’s classic, flowing lines shroud underpinnings that have benefitted from the very latest 21st century development, integrated into a performance GT that will offer all the convenience, comfort and dependability expected by modern drivers.

But for that claim to be watertight, it first needs to be proven. The stunning blue machine you see in these images is ‘Car Zero’, the very first Short Wheelbase to turn a wheel, and RML’s test-bed to prove simulation work carried out over the last three years since the model’s conception.

Last month, RML’s engineering team relocated to UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, UK, to embark on a test programme which is normally the preserve of OEMs signing off high-value products, and rarely associated with cars in this sector. But for RML, it was always an essential part of the project.

“We’ve undertaken over 30 whole-vehicle programmes over the years, most of which are ‘white-label’ and confidential,” said Michael Mallock, RML Group’s CEO. “So a comprehensive test programme is just part of our normal process, and one which we’ve also applied to the Short Wheelbase. The only difference is that this car has our name on it.”

During the first month of testing, RML’s engineering team will focus on validating the extensive simulation work which has already been carried out. Chassis dynamics, powertrain and overall quality are rigorously assessed around UTAC’s myriad test tracks, which replicate the extremes of topography found on roads throughout the world. Nic Rutherford, RML’s project engineering lead for the Short Wheelbase has been pleased with the results so far: “Although we’re relatively early in the full test programme, we’ve seen a strong initial correlation between the car’s predicted behaviours, and how it performs in real life.”

Once the car’s driveability has been signed off in the next three weeks, the more gruelling, and certainly less glamorous, part of the programme commences: durability. Intensive and industry-grade, six-week test replicates three-years’ typical usage for a driver of a mainstream vehicle, and not a more valuable and recreational car like the Short Wheelbase. A visit to a climatic wind tunnel is first on the schedule, which will test the Short Wheelbase’s HVAC system in extremes of cold and heat, including replicating the car sitting in a traffic jam in UAE at up to 50 degrees Celsius.

UTAC’s dynamic tests are just as gruelling, though. A 2,000km stint on the High Speed Bowl provides data after the car has been driven at a constant high velocity over a prolonged period. Hundreds of kilometres of Belgian Pavé replicates some of the worst impacts that the car’s suspension will sustain, with additional ‘medium pothole’ tests thrown in for good measure. Repetitive, low-speed, manoeuvre-intense driving is also part of the programme, as are body torsion-twist tests which reveal any weakness in the car’s carbon-composite structure.

“I’m more than happy to let the team here at UTAC-Millbrook take over for this part,” said Mallock. “It’s a process that’s particularly hard on the car, but for us to put our name on the final product, it’s essential.”

With the first customer Short Wheelbases entering production now, feedback from the programme will mean that only fully validated components and set-ups are employed in the final cars as they reach completion later this year. Car Zero, meanwhile, will be redeployed as RML’s demonstrator for press and customers, post-testing, so expect to see full reviews in the not too distant future.

For all previous RML Short Wheelbase news, please go to: https://rmlgroup.com/news