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2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S First Impressions

Irvine, CA -- My speciality is evaluating vehicles with four or even six wheels. Beyond that, I find I'm ill-equipped to make judgement calls. I'll drive a rig and comment before I grab anything on two wheels and blurt out an opinion.

What about a self-propelled car-motorcycle tandem setup thing on three wheels with a steering wheel and three pedals? Um, who am I to sell myself short on this one?

My brief time at the wheel of the new T-Rex 16S revealed this "car's" true daily potential as both a driver and weekend track monster. The torque-rich BMW engine allows leisurely cruising in equal amounts without revving itself into the stratosphere. This thing is without a doubt the most affordable supercar on the market.

What is a Campagna T-Rex 16S?
The 2014 T-Rex 16S is the latest three-wheeled vehicle to come out of Montreal, Quebec's, South Shore.

Each T-Rex is hand built in Campagna's factory. The chassis' go through 18 workstations before they come out as complete three-wheel two-seater motorcycle powered super-toys.

The idea of the T-Rex first came about in 1988, and the first of its kind hit the road in 1995. Since then, retailers have opened in various markets around the world.

2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S Price and Specs
The 2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S sports a base price of $57,999. Steep as this may seem, by comparison with any other car that can reach 100 km/h in 4 seconds and that can pull 1.3g of lateral acceleration, it's a freakin' bargain.

As tested, my 16S with matching suitcases, carbon kit, and passenger footrest retailed for just over $61,000. Not included in this price was my tester's windshield.

Located behind the snug cockpit is a BMW-sourced 1,649cc or 1.6L in-line 6-cylinder engine. It develops 160 horsepower at 7,750 rpm and 129 lb-ft torque at 5,250 rpm. The only available transmission is a sequential 6-speed that includes a custom designed electronically controlled mechanical reverse gear. The massive P295/35ZR18 tire and rear wheel is chain-driven.

The 2014 T-Rex 16S' performance secret lies in its 1,040lb (472kg) dry weight. Top speed is 210 km/h or 129 mph.

Driving the 2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S
Besides the crazy amount of speed possible, what truly blew my mind was how comfortable the T-Rex is to drive. The front unequal opposed triangular arms and rear swingarm with dual shock suspension components provides unparalleled handling and stability without sacrificing the quality of its ride.

The suspension's work at soaking up uneven surfaces is not only felt but also visible. At a mere 4" above the tarmac with the front wheels in full view, the contrast in movement between the chassis and the wheels is evident.

The 2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S grips solid surfaces with tenacious audacity. The unassisted rack-and-pinion steering (3.25 turns lock to lock) adds a supplemental layer to the driver's connection to the road and the T-Rex. It was immediately clear to me that this vehicle's capabilities exceed those of the vast majority of road cars, if not all, that I've driven over the years.

From what I've been told, the previous T-Rex V14 required some serious engine revs in order to get things going. The 16S furthers its cause with its larger displacement I6 as by 4,500 rpm, acceleration becomes interesting. Once closer to 7k, the really good times start to roll.

The abundance of torque (remember it's light) will rapidly break the rear tire loose in 1st gear and can do the same in 2nd as I experienced. The resolute adherence provided by the front tires and quick steering reaction times allow for some pretty spectacular hooniganinsms; a skill I intend to hone should I ever get my hands on a T-Rex again...

The sequential box is, in a word, fantastic. Clutch travel is no more than an inch and a half, but with care, is easy enough to modulate. Taking off smoothly is the result of a beautifully choreographed right-and-left foot dance and is rewarding when done right. Truly rewarding is the sequential shifter with solid shift linkage that begs to be pushed or pulled repeatedly. The ensuing gear swap following a light throttle prod for a rev match is a pure delight.

The T-Rex's brakes are overkill for a vehicle its size and weight which means they'll never let you down and will take a long time to wear out. Yes, they are powerful.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S
There's very little to say here other than elbows will rub, but this is part of the Campagna T-Rex experience. The seats are surprisingly comfortable; however, the driving position is very reclined -- I got used to it very quickly.

Gauges are complete and a radio is included... Why?

To be honest, I've never been a fan of the T-Rex. As I reflect back, I think it mostly had to do with poor colour choices and ugly alloy wheels. The 16S has exclusive wheels and some other minor aesthetic changes. Draped in Pearl Mist (aka white), this T-Rex is by far the best looking I've ever seen. It's loud but understated at the same time.

Comparing the Campagna T-Rex 16S
The 2014 Campagna T-Rex 16S is spectacular and less than a handful of cars can actually match it performance and driving dynamics-wise. Those that come to mind that I've seen, but sadly never driven, are the Lotus Elise, Caterham Seven, KTM X-Bow, and Ariel Atom.

The Lotus may be the only one with an actual roof so that practically disqualifies it... The T-Rex is a niche exotic that deserves its place in any driving enthusiast's garage.

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