2019 Rodin Cars FZed First Drive: Formula Car Narnia

Rodin Cars, a New Zealand-based car company located about 60 miles away from Christchurch, bought the defunct Lotus T125 or “Exos” project and turned it into this, the most incredible new car you can drive without holding a super license. Lotus originally built the T125 in 2010 to mimic the look and performance of a F1 car and put a lot of effort into providing an experience to those who had the $650,000 or so dollars to spend on it. Much fanfare went into the launch, including hiring former F1 driver Jean Alesi to help coach owners of the car to lap faster: Neat. Novel. Failure. 
Lotus sold exactly zero T125s and in 2016, Rodin Cars purchased the program. Work began to turn the car into its own. First, Rodin removed the 245 mm section width tires and installed 270 mm wide tires. Avon wanted it this way from the beginning and Lotus, for reasons unknown, said no. Rodin said yes and the car instantly transformed with improved balance. Then David Dicker, the founder and owner of Rodin Cars, and Mark Williamson, a veteran open-wheel and sportscar race car driver and Rodin’s lead test driver, spent a lot of time re-tuning the dampers to improve drivability.
From there Rodin added driver comfort in seemingly innocuous, but potentially critical ways. You can adjust the length of both the brake and throttle pedals (made from carbon fiber) to fit your feet precisely. Additionally, the base of both pedals have plastic cups to place your heels as well as one-inch tall sides to keep your feet from slipping. With secure placement, you feel more confident when it’s time to hit the brakes and then squeeze on more throttle. 
Rodin gives your butt similar treatment, as the seat itself went through several test iterations to ensure the body stays well supported at all times. The result is lots of bolstering and a sense of security without feeling wrenched into place by the belts. At least that’s true in theory. I drove with Williamson’s seat. He and I are close, but not exact. And the seat played a role in my lone comfort issue with the car. As I sat, I leaned such that the HANS device pressed against the head rest and craned my neck forward. Were I to buy this car, I’d have that sorted.
Finally, Rodin made one 3-D printed steering wheel after another to get the feel and function just so, working with the hand clutch function, paddle shifters, hand feel, screen visibility, all of it. In fact, Rodin 3-D prints just about every part of the car, which is time consuming and expensive, but also precise and high quality. Rodin 3-D prints both titanium and composite materials. Otherwise parts are cooked in the Autoclave (carbon fiber) or hewn and honed from solid rods of titanium (bolts, etc.). Some parts are purchased; the engine is a good example, but even that is temporary as Rodin is working on its own V-10. The point is, attention to detail at Rodin is obsessive, making the homage to the sculptor appropriate.