The Autocar long-term car park is a blessedly varied thing. Currently, we have the Kia Picanto at the affordable end of the field, and that stretches right up to the heady realms of the Mercedes E63 AMG and Jaguar XKR-S, via other more measured cars such as the Audi Q3, Mini Coupe JCW, Ssangyong Korando and BMW 320d.
And the good news for me is that I now have the best of all of them. No, really – I’m not biased at all, this is pure fact… After all, the emergency orange Ginetta G40R may be a little rough around the edges, but what else comes with an FIA-approved roll cage and five-point harness as standard?
I was pretty intent on commandeering a long-term G40R from the moment we first drove it. Not only because I’ve always been a huge fan of lightweight, low-powered, no-compromise performance cars, but also because it seems to me that the G40R finds some clear air in the market. That’s a tricky thing to do these days.
Think about it: a 175bhp (200bhp if you go for the power upgrade), 850kg track-focused, lightweight coupe that’s already proved itself in racing, and costs £30k. And that looks appealing, too. There’s nothing else quite like it. You could point a finger at the Nissan 370Z, but believe me, the Zed is far more road-biased and a totally different sort of car. A Caterham Roadsport is actually much closer to the Ginetta in nature; you get the same sense of raw, mechanical connection. Which is because it is very raw. There’s no power-assistance in the steering or brakes, and no ESP, and very little sound insulation. Just your judgement, a rear-wheel-drive racer and a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec motor. Yes, that’s right, it’s not a 1.8-litre Mazda engine anymore. Ginetta eventually went for the bigger lump for its ease of modification, and for sourcing reasons.
The car you see here is a pre-production, which we’re running for a few weeks in advance of picking up a final production car, giving us the opportunity to see how the car’s development has progressed. You’ll see the initial report on the pre-prod in the 9 May issue, and from here on in, we shall find out just how usable the G40R is on a daily basis, how good it is as an occasional track car, and whether it really is a unique proposition that’s worth the not-so-cheap list price.
I’m already well on my way to making my mind up, given that I’ve covered 1500 miles in it so far, almost without a hitch.
A dodgy fuel gauge and some rising damp in the footwells is a tad frustrating, but these faults are a result of the pre-production status. So we’re told, so we hope, and so we’ll find out. I’m besotted already, so here’s to a very happy six months.