Grip to make you gasp – and a price to match
Engine: 3.0 litres, six cylinders, turbocharged
Power: 350bhp @ 6750 rpm
Torque: 320lb ft @ 4250 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed sequential, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 175mph
Economy: n/a mpg
CO2: n/a g/km
This is not the first Radical road car I have reviewed on these pages, but while the last was (and felt like) a race car somewhat hastily and inexactly converted to road going specification, the RXC coupé was designed for the road and track day market from the word go.
Like all Radicals it features an aluminium monocoque with glassfibre bodywork but, as even the least observant of you will have noticed, this one has a roof. It also has a twin turbo 3-litre Ford V6 running through a Quaife seven-speed sequential gearbox.
Within the realm of road-legal cars, it is probably the most remarkable modern machine I’ve ever driven on the track.
I tried the low-powered 350bhp version (there’s a 380bhp engine with individual throttle bodies, too) and because the car weighs just 900kg and is a traction monster, it needs just 2.8sec to hit 60mph. But in less than a lap you’re screaming for more power, ideally the 500bhp of the V8 version Radical is known to be developing. Truly, beyond the bounds of pure racing cars, I’ve never known such performance handled with this almost dismissive ease.
There are two reasons for this. First and most obviously, the RXC has downforce. And by that I don’t mean the kind of downforce quoted by other car makers that, when you do the maths, is merely a reduction in lift or a negligible amount of positive downward pressure. The RXC has proper drive-upside-down-through-a-tunnel levels of downforce, so your apex speeds through quick curves are enough to render entirely inadequate any other car that relies solely on mechanical grip generated by tyres. It’ll make you laugh as easily as it’ll make your passenger scream.
But that’s what you get with LMP-style bodywork, careful underbody aero and a fully adjustable GT3-specification rear wing. What none of this provides is the user-friendliness to give you the confidence to explore the limits of what this phenomenal car will do. For that thank the Radical chassis engineers who’ve designed the car to be stiff enough to support its weight under full downforce yet sufficiently pliant to accept full throttle at the apex of a second-gear hairpin. It’s a car that’ll let you trail-brake all the way into the apex, yet if it does break loose at the back under power you don’t need to lift and give up the corner, you just ride out the slide on the deliciously accurate electric power steering. There are no safety nets of any description from ABS to ESP, and nor does it need it.
As a road machine the RXC is limited by a lack of rearward visibility and the gearbox’s dislike of stop-start traffic. But once you’re under way, I imagine you’d have quite a pleasant run over to the ’Ring and a completely unforgettable time once you were there.
The low-volume British track day market has been dominated by Caterham and, latterly, Ariel, but for its ease of access coupled with its devastating pace the RXC is a new dimension. Happily for its rivals, however, so is its price: at £97,000 this is almost Porsche 911 GT3 money. Then again some will regard that as value when it buys a car that behaves in a way no other road car in my experience can. And I’d be inclined to agree with them.