Those with big budgets and a desire to show off their credentials as wannabe drivers have no shortage of options these days, with virtually every supercar on the market featuring a hardcore variant honed for track use. But while cars like the McLaren 765LT and Lamborghini Huracán STO largely serve as tribute, the Radical SR10 is the real deal: a turnkey race car that you can buy from any of eight dealers in the United States and qualify. for Radical’s own racing series. As a slippery tire toy, capable of generating more than 2.0g of lateral grip and setting lap times comparable to a top-end GT3 race car, it is also more than capable of dominating the kind of high-end track events where stripes wearing supercars come together.
Radical is based in Peterborough, England, but about two-thirds of its production comes to the US; the company estimates there are about 1,000 of its cars on this side of the pond. Radical offers a graduated range of cars that operate on the same principle as illegal substance dealers: once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want more. All have similar bodywork, clearly inspired by prototype Le Mans racers, with the entry-level SR1 and SR3 midline both fitted with four-cylinder engines from Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycles, rated at 182 and 226 horsepower respectively. But we’ve come straight to the top of the range to drive the non-road-legal SR10, which features a heavily reworked 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from Ford. The output is strong, with 425 horses and 380 pound-feet of torque, and the engine is tasked with motivating only about 1600 pounds of car.
That’s roughly the same mass as the SR8 model, which previously topped the brand’s lineup and sported a hand-built V-8 made by combining two Suzuki 1.3-liter four-cylinder units on a common crankshaft. . But while the SR10 is much less exotic, it has more torque and is cheaper to buy and run – traits that have helped make it Radical’s fastest-selling car since it hit the market in 2020. The company says that both the EcoBoost engine and the race-spec six-speed sequential transmission can run at least 40 hours on track between rebuilds — a long life for a typical racing season.
Our ride took place on Portugal’s 4.9 mile Portimão Circuit, an exciting three-dimensional circuit where several of the fastest corners have blind elevated entry points. The excitement was heightened by a group of other Radical cars we shared the track with, many driven by experienced racers. However, the SR10 proved to be a rather friendly, terrifying introduction to slicks and downforce. As with nearly all of Ford’s EcoBoost applications, the SR10’s engine was the least special part of the experience, a provider of speed rather than character. The four-pot’s abundance of torque is its defining feature, accompanied by a soundtrack that gets louder and angrier as it approaches the 7000rpm red line, but it never finds any compelling harmonics (at least not through the padding of a racing helmet). But there’s so much midrange muscle on hand that even short shifting well before the rev limiter barely reduces acceleration. Radical claims that the SR10 can hit 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds and hit a top speed of 180 mph.
Radical’s chassis has no trouble handling massive amounts of thrust. It took about half a lap to warm up the SR10’s Hankook slicks, but this was the only time the traction felt less than total. Even then, the SR10 didn’t come across as skittish. Once warmed up, the tires started to deliver the kind of grip that inspires Velcro comparisons and requires mental adjustment for anyone more accustomed to lapping up conventional road cars. One of the first challenges for novice Radical pilots is to build confidence in how early full power can be deployed when exiting corners.
The front of the car is equally incisive, the SR10 spying to the tops and resisting understeer, even as we grew more optimistic in the tighter corners of Portimão. Unassisted steering wheel communication is shouted rather than whispered, and the steering wheel requires serious muscle, especially at higher speeds as downforce builds. Radical raised the steering column slightly for the 2022 model year to increase freedom of movement when turning the wheel, but amateur pilots may prefer to specify the optional power steering that was missing in our example. You can also cancel your gym membership. For drivers who are purely after lap times or who have a preference for certain handling characteristics, the SR10’s front and rear pushrod-driven suspension is highly adjustable.
Braking is the area where the SR10 feels most different from what might be called more normal cars. Radical fits cast iron racing discs, and while these lack the initial bite of the brakes on production supercars, they have no qualms about slowing down the SR10’s modest mass. But the lack of ABS makes it easy to cross the thin line between peak effort and stalling, the latter being quite easy to induce as downforce levels decrease with deceleration from higher speeds. The tires of our car were significantly less round at the end of our stint than at the beginning.
For 2022, Radical offers a factory halo style impact protection frame, inspired by those seen on Formula 1 cars. This was not mounted on the demonstrator we were driving, but we did get to experience it from the passenger seat of another SR10 driven by one of the company’s professional drivers. The halo surrounds the cockpit like a very small roll cage and makes getting in and out much more difficult. First impressions were that the SR10 felt surprisingly claustrophobic despite the lack of a roof, but it only took a few laps for our brains to filter it out as forward visibility is only slightly affected.
Radical hasn’t confirmed pricing for the revised SR10 yet, but assuming it stays close to the previous version’s $161,900, it remains, in absolute, if not relative terms, a performance bargain for those looking to hone their skills on the track. .
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