Finally, in 1972, the Europa Special was announced – as close as we’d get to a road-going 47. It had the ‘Big Valve’ Twin Cam and Renault’s R12 Gordini five-speed manual gearbox.
We found its greater torque meant there wasn’t “the necessity to keep the revs up by frequent gear-changing”, which was a criticism of the Twin Cam and Renault-engined Europas.
“A revelation on the Europa Special is the standard of ride at all speeds,” we said, without the “joggly ride of versions before the Twin Cam”.
The roadholding, too, was “among the best available on the market at any price”, with “the mid-engined layout, wheels and tyres of generous size, and well-designed suspension” being “the ingredients for superb control and an extremely high cornering potential”.
At the edge of its grip, the front ran wide and only required “a slight lift-off to maintain the original line and neutral handling”.
This was helped by accurate, sensitive and light steering with excellent feel.
“With over 120bhp, it is possible to provoke oversteering power slides out of slow corners or in the wet, but one needs to be pretty brutal to provoke them. It is a delight to find how early one can pour the power on after a corner to rush up back to one’s cruising speed,” we said.
Ergonomically, the Europa Special wasn’t great. It was “taxing for even the most athletic” to get in and snug inside, while the pedals were too close together. At least the dashboard was well laid out.
The new gearbox caused “considerable comment” among testers, with “some being highly complimentary but others highly critical”. This was due to the ‘stiction’ in the linkage, and the considerable inertia it inevitably possessed.