Gordon Murray's T27 Is the Most Efficient Car in the World

By · November 08, 2011

If you've heard of Gordon Murray, then you're probably over 40 and interested in motor racing. Twenty years ago—when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were winning about every race in their McLaren cars in Formula One— Gordon Murray was their technical director. He was the engineer whose talent made their cars faster than all the others. But the man left racing in late 1991 and started work on a different project, the McLaren F1 road-going supercar, which was the fastest car of its time. He then worked on the Mercedes SLR McLaren, another super fast machine, before leaving McLaren to work on a completely different project. The man designing the fastest cars in the world turned his attention to designing the most efficient one.

Gordon Murray between his 2 cars, the T25 in black (gas car), and the T27 in blue (electric), atfer the Brighton to London rally

Gordon Murray between his two cars, the T25 in black (gas car), and the T27 in blue (electric), after the Brighton to London rally

Mr. Murray started his own company in July 2007. His design with a gas engine is called the T25. Later, he designed an electric version with the name of T27. The car is efficient in every sense. First, it's space-efficient. The car is 99 inches long and 51 inches wide. It would be the smallest car on the road by far, yet it's a real car. It has front and rear crush zones, and the driver has an airbag. Many people (especially in America) still doubt the safety of small cars, but this one has been very carefully designed. It's as safe a big car. Gordon Murray has already released pictures of T25 after a crash test. Occupants would have come out unharmed.

The car's dashboard

The car's dashboard.

The T25/T27 are three-seaters with the driver in front—pretty much like the McLaren F1 supercar. If rear passengers stretch their legs, their feet would be at the same level as the driver's knees. It may not sound sexy, but it's very effective in reducing a car's dimensions. The actual look of the car is assuredly more worrying. If you think the Smart car looks weird, then you'll think this one is even weirder. At least, it's better inside. Mr. Murray knows what a driver expects to find in a dashboard. There's no computer screen, just easy-to-read round dials. Actually, the car may be quite fun to drive. All the weight is down on the chassis, and there's only one opening. You wouldn't call that a door. It's a large element that starts at the base of the windshield, goes with a part of the roof and the side windows that tilt forward. Ingress and egress should be very easy, probably helped by the fact that Mr. Murray is a tall man. The whole body of the car is very stiff when closed.

The T27 EV with its inventor, Gordon Murray, in London

The T27 EV with its inventor, Gordon Murray, in London.

Only a handful of people have driven the T27 and this writer is not one of them, but I believe the car drives better than it looks. The best part is that the T27 is a marvel of efficiency. With a 25-kW motor from Zytek, the company which developed the Smart's car electric drive train, the car was tested in the Future Car Challenge, in England, last weekend. The race was from Brighton to London, and every available electric vehicle was attending, including several Nissan LEAFs, electric VW Golfs, Tesla Roadsters, Chevy Volts, and a BMW ActiveE. They were all there.

The Gordon Murray T27 won as Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Prototype), Best Overall Pure Electric Vehicle, and Best Overall Entry – RAC Future Car Challenge Winner. Sadly, all the detailed results haven't been published, although the T27 recorded an incredible (converted) 350 MPG. Unconverted, that's less than 7-kWh/100km or about 9 miles per kWh. This in a car that accelerates 0 to 62-mph in less than 15 seconds, with a 100-mile range.

Mr Murray has invented a new manufacturing process for the T27. Producing it would require much less investment than a normal car. Let's hope he can license it so he can keep on designing other great cars.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago


I was at a time the #1 owner (I think, and UNDISPUTED, hehehe) in the US for that stupid Nissan CarWings game on energy efficiency, for 2 months, averaging 11Mi/kWh, but that was before the software upgrade I had several months ago. No matter how light foot I'm now, I can get only 6 Mi/kWh (best) and 5.5/5.6 kWh (avg). That is like 0-30 in 25 secs, and I might had dozed off for another 10 sec somewhere after I've hit 20 mph!

All T27 needs right now is to look like Nissan Pivo3 or Townpod to make it "modernize" for the 201X era!


· · 6 years ago

I was just forwarded the results from the BMW ActiveE team. They are very pleased with the results. Both the MINI-E and the ActiveE that were competing beat all four Nissan LEAF's and the one Tesla Roadster in the competition. They both used a touch over 12 kWh of electricity to complete the 57 mile course. The Nissan LEAF's needed between 14.1 to 15.6 kWh and the Roadster used 15.1 kWh.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 6 years ago

Nine miles per kilowatt hour at what speed?

Yes, it sounds very good. Without the speed it does not mean much. Except of course that they others were at the same speed and used more energy.

Three is enough passengers. I would buy one depending on price. I realize that price will not be known for a long time.

I wonder how well the heater works...

· · 6 years ago

The official results have now been posted on the RAC website:


· · 6 years ago

Thanks for posting! It is good to hear some performance numbers, but as others have noted without speed and conditions (hills, winds, temperatures, etc.) it is hard to compare. Though the other cars certainly give us lots of data points.

The Edison VLCe (which seats 4 people) did ~91 miles averaging 45mph, peaking at 70mph on a curvy track, and got ~340MPGe. (9.89kWh for 91.35 miles)


Then in the Roush lap on the EPA cycle it got 245MPGe:


This is the kind of performance we need to strive for! Congratulations to Gordon Murray Design and Edison2.


· · 6 years ago

Roush lab...

· · 6 years ago

Thanks Tom, those results weren't published when I wrote the article.


So that was 7 kWh to drive 57 miles, not exactly 9 miles per kWh but close. You may also note that when it comes on bigger cars, the electric Golf was more efficient than all the Nissan Leafs. Tesla's results are disappointing, one team with a converted Lotus Elise was 30 % more efficient.


About the Edison, Im not sure about the Edison. Does it meet all DOT safety regulations? Would it pass a crash test? I've seen many very light cars. It's not that difficult to make one. What's difficult is to make a safe one, fully compliant with all safety regulations.

· · 6 years ago


One thing to also consider is that all the cars were driven by different drivers with different skill levels at driving efficiently. Also, they were driving on public roads with varying amounts of traffic. There was no real constant so this test is not in my opinion definitively conclusive. However it does give a good look into efficiency of the cars involved.
It would be nice if, as part of the challenge they also competed on a closed track and drove 30mph for a similar 57 miles. Then they could use both the closed track numbers as well as the real world driving numbers. I'd like to see how they all fared in comparison when the outside factors were removed.

· · 6 years ago

"Tesla's results are disappointing"
Tesla has stated that they designed the Roadster to meet its supercar performance specs, to be reliable, and to sell well because that is what is most important to getting their business launched. Aerodynamics and efficiency were tabled for later automobiles.
It doesn't surprise me that someone converting a Lotus Elise could get better energy efficiency if they put less batteries in it and low rolling resistance tires. They only built one vehicle. What is its range? How long will its batteries last? What kind of performance does it get (top speed, acceleration, handling)?

· Warren (not verified) · 6 years ago

"About the Edison, Im not sure about the Edison. Does it meet all DOT safety regulations?"

We will see soon.


· · 6 years ago

As I stated above it really wasn't much of a scientific experiment because there were many inconsistent variables. For example, the BMW ActiveE had two people in the car who took turns driving. You would think that the extra 200lbs or so would make the car less efficient. Plus, they even stopped along the route and had a cup of coffee during the efficiency "test".

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