For the committed enthusiast there’s nothing else quite like the G40R

Our Verdict

Ginetta G40

The Ginetta G40R stands alone in offering balance and ability in a closed-roof, track-focused road car.

  • First Drive

    Ginetta G40 R

    For the committed enthusiast there’s nothing else quite like the G40R

What is it?

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.

What’s it like?

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.

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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 (ie its weight) 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. But ultimately it’s the absence of sophistication that makes the G40R such a simple but refreshing car to drive.

Should I buy one?

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; Top speed: 140mph; 0-62mph: 5.8sec; Economy: 29mpg; CO2: 181g/km; Kerb weight: 840kg; Engine: 4 cyls in-line, 1999cc, petrol; Installation: Front, longitudinal, rear wheel-drive; Power: 175bhp/6700rpm; Torque: 140lb ft/5000rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual

Join the debate


4 August 2011

This is the kind of car I've been waiting for for a long time. Practicality of a roof in a lightweight compact package. It's one of the only cars I'd consider buying new.

4 August 2011

The Ginettas that tour around with the BTCC series are awesome, one just hopes the Queen's Highway won't see these things sans bonnet or opportunistic lunges going into tight corners. Ginettas & race tracks usually result in carnage.

4 August 2011

I went on a tour around the Ginetta factory that my dad organised last year and saw this on one of the screens of the designers. That was the only place they didn't want us taking pictures, they were happy to show it to us though, everywhere else was free reign. Had a good poke around the Zytek Le Mans racers as well as old TVRs.

Awesome place, full of all kinds of classics of road and race track!

4 August 2011

want one

4 August 2011

For me too, this is one of the very few brand new cars I would consider buying. Love the low weight, compact dimensions and general lack of unnecessary fripperies. It's a proper driver's car reduced to the basics - but unlike the Elise / Caterham / Atom crowd, still a usable small coupe which keeps the bugs out of your teeth and carries a fair but of luggage for the weekend away.

5 August 2011

I love that this weighs the same as an Aygo. The fact that it looks great, and drives even better is fantastic. lets hope we hear lots more of this sort of thing

5 August 2011

Sounds quite appealing to drive. Pity they couldn't have a hired a decent designer - it's a pug ugly thing. Unfortunately, British sports car history is littered with good cars that looked hopelessly amateurish and which consequently didn't sell. There's no excuse for this thing looking like a backyard special. Ironically, Ginetta did get it oh so right once - back in the sixties, with the G12 and G16. If only they spent more time looking at them before they came up with the G40R.

5 August 2011

[quote ou701]it's a pug ugly thing[/quote] Clearly this is a debatable point as I think the fact that the body reflects the engineering underneath makes it very attractive: form reflects function unlike so much modern 'design'. The new G40R car sounds great!

5 August 2011

I think it looks great, small and purposeful, and perfectly designed to be fun at legal speeds. This is possibly one of the best thought out cars of the year.

5 August 2011

Dear Father Christmas, Slightly more road-biased version of the same car, please. Less roll cage, a stereo, maybe an extra 150mm in the wheelbase, and seating in the back for 2 under-fives. Please keep the boot the same so we can all go on holiday in it. That would basically be my dream car for the next 5 years. Thanks.


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