UK-built Wells Vertige is an enthusiast's lightweight dream come true

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British startup Wells wants to put the modern sports car on a diet. It traveled to the 2021 edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed to unveil a light, handling-focused coupe named Vertige that was developed around the driver.

On paper, the Vertige (a name which means "dizziness" or "vertigo" in French) sounds like it was baked in the same mold as the original Lotus Elise, among other driver-friendly all-stars. It was developed on a clean sheet of paper, it's not based on an existing design, and it's powered by a Ford-sourced, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mounted behind the passenger compartment. Naturally-aspirated, the engine develops 208 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque.

While those figures aren't exactly jaw-dropping, they're only part of the Vertige formula. It stretches about 155 inches long, 69 inches wide, and 45 inches tall, and it tips the scale at around 1,800 pounds. Put another way, its footprint is about as big as a 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata's but it's over 500 pounds lighter than Japan's featherweight.

The four-cylinder spins the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Wells quotes a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of around 140 mph. Driving flat-out isn't the Vertige's calling in life, however. It was developed as a nimble, daily-usable sports car that makes even mundane trips enjoyable. It's not fitted with power steering, but it offers an independent suspension system whose toe and camber settings can be manually adjusted.

McLaren-like dihedral doors give the two passengers access to the cabin. Once inside, the driver faces a three-spoke steering wheel and a cluster of four analog gauges. It looks like a refreshingly simple cabin. And yet, the Vertige offers a vast majority of the features that motorists expect to find in a new car in 2021. It's equipped with leather and Alcantara upholstery, a pair of USB ports, a seven-inch Sony touchscreen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a heater. Air conditioning is found on the list of extra-cost options, however.

Hand-built in England, the Wells Vertige starts at £45,000 (about $62,000) before options enter the equation. Each car is made to order, so buyers with deep enough pockets can work directly with the company to create a one-of-a-kind car. Performance upgrades and comfort upgrades are available, according to Wells. We've reached out to the firm to find out if the Vertige will be sold in the United States, and we'll update this story if we learn more.

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