We’ve grown used the mind-blowing performance of Radical’s road-legal track monsters, but this new RXC Turbo 500R really is something special. Built around a simple but strong and light tubular steel spaceframe, the range-topping RXC is powered by a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 Ford EcoBoost engine good fora mighty 447kW and 63ONm.
The seriousness of those figures really hits home when you learn the 500R weighs just 1070kg and costs $500,000, because combined they equate to a hypercar power-to-weight ratio for McLaren 650S money.
It’s fun to pop the gullwing door, then step up and over the sill and drop yourself into the drivers seat. The view out is pure Le Mans racer, framed by that bubble windscreen and the vented tops of the front wheelarches. The view behind is restricted, but an LCD display hooked-up to a discreet tail-mounted camera does the job of a conventional rear-view mirror. The driving position is low and snug, so you soon get settled behind the small, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. Carpet and more Alcantara trim make the cockpit more habitable—the RXC is a road car, don’t forget — but don’t hide Radical’s origins as a builder of race cars.
The upside of this is a driving experience that literally takes your breath away. The EcoBoostV6 is an absolute powerhouse — smooth and tractable, but with an unburstable, near-endless torrent of torque and top-end power that hurls you out of the corners and down the straights. The brakes have tremendous, tireless stopping power, a firm pedal and plenty of feel, and thanks to the nature of the Dunlop Direzza road-legal trackday rubber there’s plenty of grip but no snappy breakaway when the limits are reached.
On track the aerodynamics really come into play through medium and fast corners, augmenting that mechanical grip with unseen but very welcome downforce. It’s addictive and surprisingly accessible once you build the confidence to commit.
So the dynamics are dazzling, but the aesthetics are somewhat challenging. The RXC’s carbonfibre and GRP body is functional, but no more, and the lack of detailing means there’s little to gawp at purely for pleasure. The workmanlike nature of the styling and finish falls well short of, say, the jewel-like (and considerably cheaper) BAC Mono.
The 500R might lack finish and flourishes, but there’s no question it nails driver appeal. It really is a truly sensational thing to strap yourself into, and not just because of its raw pace. The motor is brilliantly tractable, the clutch progressive and the pneumatically actuated paddle-shift gearbox snappy but not too jerky at lower speeds. The brakes have feel at modest speeds and the electric power steering has five stages of assistance, from easy to hefty, so you don’t have to bust a gut to turn the wheel at low speeds. We haven’t had the chance yet to drive the 50OR on the road, but as with earlier RXCs it shows every sign of making a surprisingly good fist of it.
Effective air-conditioning and a heated front screen add another layer of usability, and it even has a front suspension lifter to cope with speed humps. Our test car didn’t have it fitted, but production versions will also have Bosch M4 race ABS with multi-point settings and a traction control system to tame all that torque on damp tarmac. In the dry conditions of our test, traction and brake lock-ups were never an issue.
Radical RXC Turbo 500R
Engine: 3500cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo
Power:447kW @ 6700rpm
Torque: 630Nm @ 4200-6200rpm
Weight: 1070kg (418kW/tonne)
0-100km/h: 2.9sec (claimed)
Top speed: 298km/h (claimed)