A racing car designed by New Zealand students that can accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in under four seconds has won an international engineering award.

The car, designed and built by University of Canterbury (UC) mechanical engineering students, topped cars from 22 other universities to win the inspired engineering award at the international university racing car competition at Victoria University in Melbourne.

It was one of nine cars to finish both endurance races, and one of only two cars chosen to be driven by a professional driver for a test session.

UC team spokesman Bruce Robertson said the driver, a current V8 supercar and former Australian A1GP driver, gave the team excellent feedback, which was a great honour.


He said it was an incredible result for the university and a great credit to the department.

"One event commentator told us our UC car was absolutely beautiful. UC has a great reputation for our focus on engineering design so everyone was expecting us to bring a good car. But nobody expected anything close to what we produced.

"A design judge that has worked at Boeing Aerospace and Aston Martin Racing told our team that of all the cars in the competition, he favoured our car the most."

The inspired engineering award, one of only two major awards, came with a free Confederation of Australian Motor Sport motorsport licence for the team next year.