Fans of the Venturi Atlantique and other French Venturis
found in GT2 may have suffered a cruel blow when GT3 was released. Venturi was one of those manufacturers that got the axe.
Lovers of these French supercars may or may not have been satisfied with the Renault Clio Sport V6, which has the performance,
but has looks running on the "goofy" side.
Well cry no more! Though Venturi did not make an appearance in GT3
or GT4, there is yet another French sports car to play with that I (and many others I'm sure) have never
heard of: the Hommell Berlinette R/S Coupe! It's not funny-looking. It's got a low, sleek shape,
and it's somewhat lightweight as well. Is it a suitable replacement for Venturi in our games? Is it fair to even
compare these two? Let's find out.
Although I don't plan on making this entire reveiw a comparison between the
Atlantique and the Berlinette, it's impossible not to compare a little. But let's not do this right away. The
Berlinette has a rather short but interesting history.
Every man has his dreams, but few of us manage to
acheive them to their fullest. Michel Hommell, owner of a French car magazine called 'Échappement', had a dream
of making a sports car. His concept/dream was shown in 1990 at the prestigious Paris Auto Show, but production didn't
start till four years later. Information on Hommell (the man or his creations) is sparse on the 'net, but we can
deduce that like Venturi, Hommell sales have always been lowish. I couldn't find any absolute information on how many cars
have been made and stuff, but many websites alude to the fact that Hommell has suffered monetarily, and could be facing
(or is already in) bankruptcy. But it's hard to tell. Even Wikipedia's Hommell page is absolutely vague.
the Berlinette certainly is--starting at a Miata-ish 2,094 pounds. Removing weight is not
an absolute priority. Although it's somewhat pricey, the Berlinette's early performance certainly is worth the cost.
let's talk about the weakest part of this performance package...
---------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------
Statistically, before many drivers take a spin in any virtual automobile, they'll have a quick
look at its specs. A high percentage of them will look at horsepower but not much more. I'm speaking of the multitude
of drivers who just wanna blow the doors off some race series. Those of us interested in more than this will check out torque,
weight, and dimensions as well.
A quick gander at those for the Berlinette's Citroen-derived inline-4 will probably
turn many away, even some of those who aren't n00bishly looking to cheat in any way possible. Gotta admit, things are
looking a bit dismal for Hommell. They want just over $47,000 for this car, and in return
they're giving us just 165 horsepower?!? Is this deja-vu? Didn't we already go thru this scenario
(low powered but expensive) with the Venturis of Gran Turismo 2? In comparison, the Berlinette is even weaker
than a stock Atlantique. Granted, it costs a hell of a lot less: $47,000 versus $104,000, but still...what exactly does
France have against some serious power? :D Even the Clio Sport V6 starts with less power than many others, although this
car also starts much stronger than the Berlinette for sure.
Though the Berlinette feels speedy during races
(especially at twisty, technical tracks), straight-ahead acceleration is really lacking. Zero to sixty in over 7.7
seconds, zero to one-hundred in 18.3! The 400M dash is run at a far-below-average 16
seconds, and a kilometer falls in almost half-a-minute. Some "supercar". If any were hoping Hommell would have outshined
(and therefore properly replaced) Venturi in GT4, they can just keep hoping.
Well never fear, the parts shop is here!
Three NA tunes plus two stages of turbo to be exact. Peak NA power from a Stage 3 kit runs at exactly 300 horsies
with about 248 foot-pounds, while the Stage 2 turbo (non-intercooled) will boast a little more: 307
@ 6,500 rpms with 253.80 foot-pounds @ 5,500. Though this isn't absolute tops, there are
plenty of races a Hommell can topple with this somewhat meager power, mostly because of what we'll find in the Handling section.
6-speed manual tranny is standard, and geared perfectly for this narrowly power-banded vehicle. Notice peak power and peak torque
are just 1,000 rpms in difference, for instance. Rarely will this spikey power be felt as wheelspin (as it would
be in a front-drive). Instead, the Hommell's 2.0 4-cylinder gets to have its say with minimal negative consequences. Top speed
is acceptable. Stock, all six speeds carry the Berlinette to 147.67 mph. Not great for
a typical sports car, but certainly great considering just 165 horsepower is being used. With close-gearing and other assorted
parts, the Hommell can therefore compete in all sorts of events: the MR Challenge, the Pan/Euro and French Championships,
many Professional League & Special Condition, some Extreme-level races, and some endurances as well.
power is tight, but drivers can get alot for what they paid for in a Hommell Berlinette. It'll all start to make sense in
the next section.
Another easy comparison to make would be to the Lotus Elise. Although the Berlinette has 200 or so pounds
over a typical Elise, both cars possess many of the same characteristics including: minimal understeer, an occasionally twitchy
rear-end, the ability to zip around many corners (especially tight ones) with a variety of behaviors, and so on. Needless
to say, here (in the Handling section) is where the Hommell Berlinette R/S Coupe really shines. Power is lowish, but any skilled
(or somewhat skilled) driver will certainly be able to use the rest of this car's traits to advantage.
on the other hand, does have a few habits all its own. I'm not sure how Venturis would handle if they appeared in GT4, but
the Hommell does have some mannerisms which it displays--particularly its "rubbery" feel over bumps. It has a habit of bouncing
over curbs and rumble strips, yet these moments are usually very easy to contain with minimal consequences.
Ignore all of the above for this game. In GT4, with its policy of understeer front and foremost, the
Hommell does well because it's got just enough oversteer to balance its handling.
So, I would have to say Michel did
a pretty good job at creating a vehicle which at least does live up to supercar status at various tracks, even while
stock and low-powered. You may be surprised.
1). A little handling
demon, this one is...as was just mentioned above several times in several ways. Not all 2-seater sports supercars in GT4 are
understeering messes like the Saleen S7 and Cizetta.
2). Track-ready from the get-go. Limited slip devices, better
tires, and extensive suspension tuning are not necessary early on.
3). Lightweight, too. Reductions are also
4). Nice variety of body colors.
5). Handsome, cutesy looks. Not too goofy or ugly or odd
like so many other French models.
6). Can be bought at any time, despite its rarity in real-life (for some reason,
I thought I'd need to win my Berlinette).
7). 6-speed gearbox gives plenty of ceiling while the car's power is near-stock.
An unexpectantly long list of races this low-powered sports car can handle. Initial cost to profit-margin time is actually
quite healthy if you're skilled.
9). Yet another vehicle which is rarely seen in real-life, and which most of us would
never hear of if it weren't for Gran Turismo 4.
10). Econobox fuel-economy during enduros.
Quite a price for a 165 horsepower car! There are many which are both cheaper and faster.
2). Sluggish acceleration,
despite the closely-geared tranny.
3). Rather nervous at high speeds. Not a car for beginners for this reason.
Power can't be raised over 310 horses.
5). Brakes leave something to be desired, although this car does
trail-brake very efficiently.
Published: November 23, 2009
More CAR Reviews click HERE