Radical SR3 SL

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Amid the economic gloom, if you want a reason to feel good about British manufacturing, go to an industrial estate in Peterborough and see if you can arrange a quick trip around Radical Sportscars. But be quick: Radical is growing so fast it’s run out of space – in a factory once thought far too big for a small manufacturer of race and track day cars.

So Radical is building a new facility nearby, from scratch, that’s almost three times the size of where it is now. Radical’s claim is that by volume it’s now the second-largest racing car constructor in the world, beaten only by Porsche. And with 230 racers made last year, that’s not hard to believe.

But that’s not all Radical does. Its business is impressively diversified, making components for other race cars and parts that have nothing whatever to do with cars at all: the factory also produces bearings that are used in motors that drag probes across the floor of the ocean.

Looking around makes you feel proud. Unlike some other small British sports car companies that merely assemble their cars on site from parts provided by external contractors, Radical makes everything from the steel space-frame chassis to the glassfibre bodies.

Engines come from Suzuki motorcycles, but it is Radical that adapts them for use on four wheels, bores them out – and in the case of the flagship SR8, combines the internals from two into a home-brewed V8 engine. Like Porsche, it also offers a warranty for all its racing engines.

So long as it’s done less than 40 hours on the circuit, if it unstitches itself, it’s down to Radical. And that is a hell of a lot of racing. Mind you, Radical boss Phil Abbott says he’s seen one engine from a race car driving school that still remained in good health with over 200 hours on it.

But it is Radical’s first road car I’m here to see. Although it’s possible to make any Radical road legal through the process of single vehicle type approval, the SR3 SL is not a racing car wearing a number plate but one that’s been gone through from end to end to adapt it for road use. Though it looks like the Radical’s staple racer the SR3, it has different bodywork, suspension, aerodynamics, and perhaps most importantly, a new engine. In the interests of driveability, the Suzuki motorcycle engine has been replaced by a Ford 2 litre turbo motor offering 300bhp, in a car weighing 745kg. This sounds like enough to be getting on with.

It certainly feels like a racing car. You still have to climb over the side and settle down into a moulded GRP bucket seat. Actually you sit a little higher than you’d expect, but you soon get used to it. Information comes from a central LCD display which is not that easy to see at a glance, though apart from what speed you’re currently doing, a bank of change up lights tell you what you most need to know.

There are some comforts in here, but not many. There’s a heater of dubious strength, a padded steering wheel, a handbrake and electric adjustment for the wing mirrors. Lacking a windscreen as it does, there is neither central mirror nor wipers.

The engine wakes up with an anodyne blare. This motor is a tool for doing a job, much as is the Audi turbo motor in the KTM X-Bow, the car that probably most closely mirrors the SR3 SL’s positioning. Expect any aural excitement or enthusiasm to accompany your progress and you’ll be disappointed.

Negotiating the car out of Peterborough is quite an alien experience. Amid the lorries, vans and normal cars the Radical feels quite out of place, though if you do settle down to a steady cruise, it’s actually respectably comfortable. I’m wearing a helmet but you could probably get away with looking a lot less silly by wearing sunglasses and a cap, though you risk your face becoming stone-chipped. You could certainly drive it from home to the Nürburgring, though after a couple of days in the Green Hell you might feel somewhat less stoked about the idea of driving it back.

I head for a road that is the stuff of legends among colleagues who test cars in the east of England. Predictably the Radical is fearsomely fast. There’s not a Ferrari made today that can touch its power-to-weight ratio, and with a turbo that spools up almost instantly from as little as 2000rpm, there’s not even much of an imperative to make sure you’re in the right gear. Shifts come via paddles and can be dispatched without using the clutch in either direction, though I found that if you just lift the throttle for an instant on the upchange and dip the clutch on the way down, you can eliminate entirely the slight jolts in the driveline that would otherwise accompany your progress.

But it appears to have even more grip than power. Not far into your journey there comes a stage where the kick in the back becomes normal, while your apex speed is still boggling your brain; a stage when you have complete confidence both in your machinery and your ability to control it, yet for it still to be unwise to go faster on a public road. Point-to-point on a dry road like this, the Radical is possibly the fastest road car I’ve ever driven.

Still, the SR3 SL is not actually a very easy car to drive fast. It tram-lines sufficiently severely for your progress to be punctuated by a series of small corrections as its nose darts left and right like a bloodhound picking up a scent. In a lesser car this would not be so problematic, but in a car with performance such as this, the need for it to go precisely where you point it is an obvious imperative. On the road its colossal potential to entertain and indulge the driver is compromised if not entirely spoiled.

The SL is probably this way to maintain circuit performance, and as a hybrid road-cum-track day machine, this is understandable. But if Radical is to turn its road car business into the same roaring success its race car business has become, there is work to be done here. Radical wasn’t surprised by my feedback; it’s already working with its damper supplier and tyre specification to make the car more user-friendly on the road. If it cracks that, Radical can start to build a reputation for road cars as strong as the one it already has for its racers.

Factfile
ENGINE: 2.0 litres, four cylinders, petrol
TOP SPEED: 160mph
PRICE: £69,850
POWER: 300bhp at 6000rpm
FUEL/CO2: n/a
www.radicalsportscars.com

You may also like

Related products