Launched in 1991, the Atlantique was France’s answer to the Julian Thompson redesign of the Lotus Esprit, and contained in it’s fibreglass body was a mid mounted, 2.8 litre turbo’d V6 with 260 bhp to hand (or foot), which isn’t too shabby in a car that weighs 1100kgs. This saw the Atlantique reach 60mph in 5.2 secs and storm on to a 167mph top speed.
This was the first of the Atlantique’s though and things were going to get interesting for Venturi as they went into administration in 1994 and were purchased by Scotsman Hubert O’Neill. O’Neill lifted the 3 litre V6 from Peugeot/Citroen and planted it into a revised Atlantique to give birth to the Atlantique 300, which in naturually aspirated form was good for 210 bhp. As ever, turbo made it better and with the optional forced induction, power rose to a respectable 281bhp The take over by O’Neill set the tone for the Atlantique, as in 1996, Venturi once again went into administration and were bought by Thai firm Nakarin Benz who finally let the leash off the Atlantique so it could go after the Espirit.
The biturbo Atlantique 300 was released in 1998 with power up to 310 bhp, top speed up to 171mph, and 0-60 down to 4.9 seconds. This brought is scarily close to the Espirit V8.
Despite this, the Atlantique sold in pitiful numbers, less than 700 in total, and in 2000, Venturi ceased production. This seems a pity, especially when Performance Car magazine compared the Atlantique with it’s nemesis from Norfolk saying that the Venturi was- “a more relaxing car to drive, its tidier dimensions make it easier to place, it rides more smoothly, generates far less road noise, and has a much slicker gearchange. It’s better built too.”
Venturi are still alive but their current owner has retired the entire concept of the Atlantique, and instead produces ten electric cars a year, the chief of which is called the Venturi Fetish. No I’m not making that up, there is a car called the Fetish. I can only guess leather comes as standard.