8

The G40R is Ginetta’s most recent foray into the road car market, and it’s a car designed predominantly for track day enthusiasts who like to drive, rather than trailer, their machines to the circuit.

It costs £29,950 and Ginetta hopes to find homes for around 100 cars each year, a modest but realistic target from a company that has, in recent years, concentrated purely on building racing cars.

The engine is a tuned 2.0-litre Ford Duratec lump that develops 175bhp at 6700rpm and 140lb ft at 5000rpm – in standard form. This can be pumped up to anywhere between 200-280bhp if the customer so requires (and they have the budget to match) but even with 175bhp the rear-drive G40R is decidedly rapid.

And that’s because it weighs a mere 840kg with half a tank of fuel on board, giving it a power-to-weight ratio far in excess of even the fruitiest hot hatchbacks on sale today.

Even when you blip the throttle at a standstill there’s an immediacy of response to the G40R that’s simply not there in everyday cars of 2011. The clutch is heavy, the big ventilated disc brakes heavier still underfoot (they’ll be lighter on the production models) but the throttle weight is sweetly judged, and as it moves away the G40R feels alive and direct beneath your backside.

And yet the ride is actually pretty decent for such a small, lightweight machine. At parking speeds the non-assisted steering seems heavy to the point of being cumbersome. But the moment you get going the weight disappears and is replaced by a deliciously crisp response.

There’s a feel and precision through the G40R’s steering the like of which you might not have experienced in a car with a roof on for a very long time; and the lack of movement required at the rim to exact a change in direction is akin to that of a single-seater racing car.

As for the performance, handling and brakes, there’s a lot that’s good, some bits that are very good and only a few things that grate about the G40R. On paper it’s quick enough to just about deal with a Renault Clio Cup in a straight line while driving rings around it in corners. But on the road it feels way fruitier than that, partly because there’s a lot of noise to accompany what is undoubtedly a decent amount of thrust, but mainly because it has such an amusingly well sorted rear-drive chassis – which can be endlessly adjusted by playing with the dampers if an owner so wishes.

But what’s really appealing about the G40R on the road is the sensation of speed you get when driving it. Because of the exhaust bark and the proximity of your backside to the road itself, the G40R always feels faster than it actually is. Which is good.

As for the way it can be hurled at corners and drifted gently through them, with either a quarter turn of understeer or a full armful of oversteer – depending how committed you are with the throttle and what’s coming the other way – the G40R is just a hugely entertaining car to drive. One that also benefits from a snappy six speed manual gearbox (courtesy of the MX5) a proper limited slip diff at the back (ditto) and more pure braking power than most other road cars on sale.

Because in the end, that’s what 840kg and a set of big ventilated discs at each corner does for you. Take away the inertia of a normal road car and replace it with a bespoke, track-developed set of underpinnings and you can’t help but end up with a smile on your face. And that’s precisely what the G40R delivers.

OK, it may be somewhat basic in its appeal, lacking the luxuries of most other road cars – although it does boast a boot that can swallow two sets of golf clubs plus a cabin that’s sparse but acceptable for everyday use.

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the committed enthusiast who’s looking for a fast, affordable, uncomplicated means of driving to – and then ruling at – tracks days, there’s nothing else quite like the G40R. Not only does it provides a clear and welcome indicator that Ginetta is back in business making road cars, it’s also a sign post of what’s to come. And that could be very exciting indeed.

Ginetta G40R

Price £29,950; Engine 4cyls in-line, 1999cc, petrol; Installation Front, longitudinal, RWD; Power 175bhp at 6700rpm; Torque 140lb ft at 5000rpm; 0-62mph 5.8sec; Top speed 140mph; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 840kg; Economy 29mpg; CO2 181g/km

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