What do you get when a bunch of former Radical employees – including one of its co-founders – are given a clean slate to create something special? Meet the totally bonkers A-One, the inaugural effort from Revolution Race Cars, developed to tempt anyone underwhelmed by supercars or GT4 racers into the ludicrous world of high downforce track machinery. It’s billed as a car for slicks and wings newbies as well as full-time professionals, meaning it combines insane performance with a (relative) degree of approachability. Better still, at £139k apiece the A-One is a seriously exotic piece of kit that’s priced at high-end sports car money. In pure performance terms, it looks like a heck of a lot for the cash.
So what sets the A-One apart from the other featherweight contenders – including the output of Revolution boss Phil Abbott’s former abode? Carbon. Lots and lots of it. Carbon fibre makes up the core components of the A-One’s chassis, including the tub and floor, but the price has been kept down because it’s made using a more cost effective and quicker process than the prepreg method used in single seaters. It’s said to be a small step down in rigidity, yet still much stiffer than conventional spaceframe chassis. Revolution reckons its car is a new segment benchmark for crash safety as a result, and the flexibility carbon provides to design (not literally) has enabled Revolution to create a genuinely spacious cockpit.
It has also allowed for what we can probably all agree is one of the meanest looking track car designs in the business. The A-One looks purposeful as hell, with a front-end like a predator’s gaping mouth and a rear defined by that enormous rear wing and glimpses of the tech beavering away within. Fluid dynamics and computer processing power has obviously played its part, but Abbott also hired a designer to ensure that form followed function. Few things which generate 700kg of downforce at 110mph look this menacing. That’s 40kg more than a McLaren P1 GTR has at 150mph, by the way.
Given the skinniness of the panels and the vast number of body openings, the car’s 795kg kerbweight almost seems a given. It’s not, of course, and the lengths gone to ensure it are visible everywhere, including under the bodywork, where the 3.7-litre Ford Cyclone block – here in naturally-aspirated form for the most driver friendly delivery of a 385hp peak – is nestled snugly against the carbon tub. Joining it under the engine cover is a six-speed pneumatic sequential transaxle and the double wishbones that are mounted directly to that, complete with adjustable coilover suspension and three-way damping. A third element spring ensures the chassis can handle the aero load generated above it; 300mm and 280mm front and rear brake discs with 15- and 16-inch rims wrapped in Dunlop slicks are there to keep it all in contact with the asphalt.
With no doors, you climb over the sides of the A-One, using the carbon floor that protrudes out from under the body as a step, stand on the seat and then lower yourself into position. (Unless the car has optional double-halo protection, in which case you add a step onto the side and clamber over the top.) It’s never going to be a graceful process, but practice probably adds a bit of swagger. Or so we’re told. Once in, there’s no questioning the ergonomics; it looks and feels like a proper open-top prototype, but with no overdose of information and buttons that can be so daunting elsewhere.
Once sat down, your body is held snug with your back angled at a 45-degree angle from vertical while your legs are stretched straight ahead. The pedals are set so the brake falls naturally under your left foot, with the clutch – used only to pull away – is where the footrest would be in a road car. Each driver will get a seat that’s fitted to them, but even in a borrowed machine not matched to yours truly, the physical bond between (wo)man and machine is obvious - albeit without the closed-in feeling that often accompanies it, because the right-hand drive A-One has space for an optional passenger seat, should anyone be brave enough to join you inside this 484hp per tonne monster. Which becomes even more threatening when the engine bursts into life.
It’s the same V6 crate motor which powers the Ginetta G55 GT4 we drove recently, but mounted amidships and breathing through considerably shorter pipes as a result, it’s much more raucous and angry sounding here. Revolution has tuned the motor to produce a wider window of torque along with the aforementioned peak power, while also future proofing the setup with more advanced than necessary electronics, so software upgrades can be added – and, if requested, traction control. We don’t have that here on a thankfully dry day on Silverstone’s GP layout, nor are there tyre blankets for the slicks. But the team running the car – Revolution’s own staffers – don’t seem too fazed by a newcomer taking one of only four demo cars out onto track with a dozen or so other loonies.
While it unquestionably feels proper from the moment that insanely loud and gravelly six-pot engine smacks you in the back at the pitlane exit, the traction and braking performance are strong even when cold, so the car doesn’t invoke clumsiness. It hurtles you down the straight at alarming speed and with thuds from the paddle shift sequential, but build up the corner pace gradually and the rears will be ready before the fronts, so if you press on to early there’s understeer to contend with rather than a backwards trip across the gravel. And once those front boots are warm the car builds and builds with performance gradually, so it eggs you on by another five or 10 per cent every five or six bends. Without knowing it, you’ll have doubled your apex speeds and got back onto the throttle five metres earlier in a handful of laps - and graduated from the car’s mechanical limits to that otherworldly place where downforce calls the shots.
That’s where the A-One really inspires confidence, because there’s no step change in performance when those aero pieces begin to work. It’s utterly seamless, turning Porsche 911 GT3 RSs and Ferrari 488 GTBs into slow-moving roadblocks. Where they pitch and wiggle through corners, the lateral and front-to-rear stability of the A-One, alongside the insistent downward pressure of the airflow, mean you corner with remarkable, otherworldly smoothness. Particularly when there’s no optional power steering fitted, because the load passed through the column effectively cleans up your steering inputs – while working out your wrists. The A-One is unbelievably hunkered down through the infamously challenging Maggots to Becketts complex – approached at almost 140mph – with only a dab of brake required to take the right of the former. That’s proper prototype stuff, emphasised by the lateral 2.5G max claimed by Revolution for the strain put on your neck. It’s almost matched by 2.2G of unfaltering braking performance at the end of the Hanger Straight, where the aero generated is so strong that you don’t hit the anchors until you’re about to turn into Stowe. From 145mph.
In short, it’s astounding. A GT4 car would be easier to get to grips with, and honestly be more of a laugh. But that’s because the A-One has been honed with a clarity of purpose and no little seriousness for people intent on optimising a car setup with significant track time. For this demanding, dedicated niche it will seem sensational, offering LMP thrills on a turnkey, high-end sports car budget. Little wonder there are already 12 cars confirmed for a 2020 Sports Prototype Cup grid, and more to follow, placing the A-One in direct competition with Radical. If that all sounds pretty ambitious, it is. But Revolution has laid down an exceptional foundation. We look forward to seeing it built on.