New 380hp Radical coupe revealed

Best known for its bike-engined, open cockpit track specials the new V6-powered Radical RXC is a significant development for the Peterborough-based firm and one that’ll be pounding a race track near you soon. Ahead of the RXC’s official unveiling at the Autosport International Show on January 10 PistonHeads accepted an invitation to Radical’s factory for a closer look…

Most won't see where it went, on road or track
Most won't see where it went, on road or track
It won’t just be limited to a slick-shod prototype racer though – the ‘Radical Xtreme Coupe’ will be going into production as a road car too, making a mockery of more marketing led ‘racing car for the road’ pretenders. This is the real thing.

A 380hp 3.7-litre Ford V6 coupled to a kerb weight of 900kg means 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, according to Radical’s claims. Interestingly, it also boasts that both race AND road car will have around 900kg of downforce at a top speed of 175mph.

That’s because the RXC is a proper prototype racer. “The design is inspired by Peugeot’s 908 Le Mans car,” says Phil Abbott, Radical’s Technical Director and co-founder.

Closed cockpit is something new for Radical
Closed cockpit is something new for Radical
“We’ve always built open cars in the past and we wanted to do something different,” he says. “We wanted to attract a new type of customer – some people just don’t get open cockpit cars. With the RXC we can enter new types of racing.”

A hint that we could see Radical back at Le Mans? “If the regs allow it, we’d love to,” says Abbott.

And that’s important, because it’ll be “a race car first and a road car second”, as the RXC’s designer Nick Walford puts it. When asked what measures his team have employed to help refinement on the Queen’s highway and prevent it from being a complete rattle box (our words) a wry smile breaks across his face.

“We’ve had to make compromises but it’s still got a simple interior,” he says. “We don’t want it to go too far way from the race car. There won’t be too many luxuries inside.”

Up to 380hp from mid-mounted Ford V6
Up to 380hp from mid-mounted Ford V6
He’s not kidding. Air conditioning and a heated windscreen are the only creature comforts on offer. No stereo for your tunes, either.

No matter, as that Ford V6 should provide a suitable soundtrack. It’ll be mated to a race-spec seven-speed Quaife sequential gearbox – even the road car will get the same hardware, tempered by adjustable maps for the engine and gearbox to make it a little more liveable for the road, just like the SR3 SL.

But the RXC is much longer and wider than the SR3, creating another problem for Walford. “Getting the look right was the biggest challenge,” he says. “We don’t use modelling clay so there has to be plenty of imagination. You can clearly see inspiration from the Peugeot but it was important we got the scale right.” While race-spec bodywork might look great, it’s not that practical – or more to the point legal – on the road.

Bodywork taking shape at Radical's factory
Bodywork taking shape at Radical's factory
The RXC has been designed with European Type Approval in mind, causing more than a few headaches. “Wing mirrors, door pillars, wings and bodywork are pretty much free when you’re designing a race car, but to make a road going version we had to incorporate all these legal bits into the design,” says Walford.

The ‘race first, road second’ mantra runs right through the car. Neither racer nor road car gets any form of traction control to help you meter out the 300, 340 or 380hp (depending on whether you go for the standard, track day or race power outputs) and there isn’t the safety net of ABS to help if you should lock a wheel. Six-piston AP Racing calipers clamp steel or optional carbon-ceramic 330mm front and 310mm rear discs, so it’s a distinct possibility as well. Better get some sensitivity in that braking foot then…

“To sum it up, it’s a road car for people who love to do track days in a package featuring proper race car technology,” says Abbott.

This really IS a racing car for the road.
This really IS a racing car for the road.
Radical is targeting sales of 50 cars in the first year, with a 50:50 mix of road to race variants. It’s offering the first 10 customers of each a deal too, at a ‘special’ price of £89,500 plus VAT (it gets fibreglass bodywork to “keep costs down”) to reward them for their early involvement with the programme. After that you’re looking at just under the £100,000 without the Vodka And Tonic.

What you need to know though is it’s coming next summer and it looks set to be very good indeed.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (125) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RTH 16 Dec 2012

    Perhaps their stylist was a fan of the Morris Minor ?

  • BertBert 16 Dec 2012

    This rendering was posted elsewhere and looks much better to me.
    I certainly want a go in one!

  • boxerTen 15 Dec 2012

    Fury1630 said:
    If you want to win races (& Radical do) there is NO aspect of the car that can be compromised for aesthetics - or you lose - simple.
    A most incisive observation.

  • Fury1630 15 Dec 2012

    pthelazyjourno said:
    There are a number of LMP1 cars in my post on the previous page. Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but proportionally these things are a damn sight better.

    And the fact most racing cars these days are ugly is certainly nothing to do with chasing outright speed and the most efficient aero; it's because governing bodies keep playing with regulations. See the fk-off big boards on the back of Le Mans prototypes that were a knee-jerk reaction to cars getting airborne. They make the cars a lot uglier, but serve no purpose in terms of speed or handling. Or the broken noses on current F1 cars, again introduced by regulations and engineers attempting to find the most effective way round the rules.
    Blimey, you REALLY don't get it do you?
    1, the image you're criticising is a CAD model. There's probably no perspective on it, so it's distorted in ways you never see in real life. So any judjement you make on proportion is null & void.
    2, Aesthetics. Can you honestly see Lewis Hamilton saying "yeah I came second, but that's OK, my car was prettier" Unlikely.
    3/ Roofline. Extra hieght = greater frontal area = more drag. Do you REALLY think that roof is any higher than it absolutely NEEDS to be?
    4/ Aerodynamics makes things look better in an absolute sense, so a Spitfire looks better than a Gloster Gladiator. BUT as soon as you use aerodynamics to hold something to the ground, aerodynmics in it's pure sense is corrupted, as are the shapes it generates. Having the fastest car in the gravel trap is of little value.
    5/ Your examples. The Lotus is hideous, the other LMP cars are within 5% as ugly as the Radical & for the same reason. The other three arn't race cars, they are road cars adapted for racing & so get thier shape from the aesthetic driven premium sportscar market that spawned them. They would be faster if they looked like the Radical.

    Pay attention. All engineering is a compromise. On the race track particularly. make the car 1in. wider, you gain a little stability (in theory) but you also gain 20 - 30Sq in frontal area & more surface drag. So that change works for bendy tracks, but is worse for straighter ones. If you want to win races (& Radical do) there is NO aspect of the car that can be compromised for aesthetics - or you lose - simple.

    Having the prettyest car that never won a race is not a recipe for sales success in the market Radical are in.

    Hope this helps.

  • Furyblade_Lee 15 Dec 2012

    Yes, yes and yes.

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