Radical SR10 2024 review – hypercar performance for £126,000

By combining intense trackday performance with enhanced durability, this latest Radical aims to offer the best of both worlds. Does it succeed?

Evo rating
Price
from £126,000
  • Intense, neck-straining track performance; durability
  • It doesn’t rev to 10,500rpm

Lots of magical sequences get seared into the memory banks in this job. I can close my eyes and relive so many drives: howling along the Pacific Coast Highway in the Ford GT in 2005 with its chief engineer alongside and a Ferrari 360 Modena (cheekily supplied by Ford as a benchmark) disappearing in the rear-view mirror; chasing 288 GTO, F40 and Enzo in the sublime F50 across our favourite road in Wales on a crisp autumn evening; watching Dickie Meaden slip and slide in a Carrera GT from the driver’s seat of a Noble M600; and so many more. 

You wouldn’t expect a cold day in Lincolnshire to elbow its way into the files marked ‘Thank God I don’t have a real job’. However, back in 2016 Radical rolled into our Track Car of the Year test with its RXC Spyder and made Blyton Park feel as epic as Spa-Francorchamps on a sunny day. I’ll never forget trying to beat the lap time set the previous year by the 650S GT3. We missed out by three-tenths but my face is still aching from the smile and I’m still hoarse from all the whooping and hollering. The combination of real, tangible downforce, unbelievable approachability and a 3-litre V8 that produces 440bhp and revs to 10,500rpm was genuinely extraordinary. It’s hard to imagine a car more thrilling.

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Today the new Radical SR10 has even bigger hurdles to overcome if it’s to join its highly strung sibling and create a new unforgettable memory. The location is Bedford Autodrome, the weather is bleak and I’ve got just 20 minutes to find out about this new trackday offering from Radical. Furthermore, the key ingredient that made the RXC Spyder so utterly spellbinding is gone. Instead of a screaming 3-litre V8 mounted behind the cockpit, there’s the familiar 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from Ford (albeit heavily reworked and with a custom Garrett turbo and forged internals) that is, in my experience, rarely inspirational. 

Let’s not be too downhearted, though. The RPE-Ford (Radical Performance Engines) unit is good for 425bhp at 6900rpm and 380lb ft at 3900rpm, and the rest of the package is a further refinement of the familiar Radical recipe, promising a high-downforce LMP-style driving experience and – the crucial bit – very reasonable running costs. It slots into an extensive range starting with the baby SR1 (1340cc, 182bhp, 490kg) progressing through SR3 XX (1500cc, 226bhp, 615kg), SR8 (2.7-litre V8, 411bhp, 725kg) and heading up to the physically bigger RXC cars, which are now exclusively powered by the EcoBoost 3.5-litre V6, twin-turbocharged for 650bhp. Think of the SR10 as an SR8 with lots and lots more torque, lower maintenance costs and a few refinements along the way. It costs £126,000.

The natural habitat for the SR10 is a very long way from a dank day in Bedfordshire. Radical has seen a huge upswing in US sales since the launch of various ‘race resorts’ such as Thermal in California, Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Nevada and Monticello Raceway, New York, and so the SR10 is built very much with them in mind. The focus is on retaining the extraordinary performance and dynamics of the SR8 but ensuring they’re much more of a turnkey proposition. An SR8 needs an engine refresh after every 40 hours of racing, the SR10 doubles that, and this will be extended further at less taxing trackday speeds. Of course, the SR10 will also be eligible for a number of race series around the world if the owners want to step up to competition. 

Stand on the driver’s seat and then wriggle down into position and the SR10 simultaneously spikes your heart rate and puts you at ease. The driving environment can’t help but intimidate a little as it’s so far from even the extreme road car norm, but at the same time it’s wonderfully uncompromised and the controls are perfectly placed. The oblong steering wheel feels fantastic and is, of course, a complete control centre, with everything from rotary dials for various engine maps to buttons for the pitlane limiter, headlight flash and Neutral for the gearbox, while short paddles are affixed to its rear. Plus, it looks a bit like an F1 or LMP wheel. Which is cool. You need cool stuff when you’re spending well over £100,000 on a trackday car. 

Selecting first is easy. Depress the clutch, thumb the Neutral button, flick the upshift paddle with your right fingers and hear and feel the gear engage with a little jolt. The SR10 is the first Radical with a new Hewland TMT transaxle that was developed primarily for F2 and mid-torque GT applications, and is here fitted with a Wavetrac ATB differential. These helical-geared torque-biasing diffs again require less servicing than a plate-type set-up. Anyway, that’s the easy bit. Rolling away is a tad trickier as the clutch actuation is extremely unforgiving. I stall it once. Maybe twice. Luckily, I won’t have to touch the clutch pedal again until I roll back in and stop…

It takes one turn to know that the SR10 feels more physical than SR8 or the RXC Spyder from back in 2016. The (unassisted) steering is heavy, the torque hits hard and with startling urgency, and somehow the economy of movement required to guide a Radical around a track seems slightly at odds with the booming power and hefty rack. Without the manic motorcycle-derived powertrains of other Radicals even the messages coming back to the driver are slightly harder to decipher. It’s quieter, there’s less immediacy to the power delivery and yet it’s actually hitting much harder much sooner, and it’s all slightly disorientating. This is a bit of a stretch but I remember way back in 2006 speaking to the drivers of the then new diesel-powered R10 TDI Le Mans racer. They all struggled initially to find the limits because their usual aural reference points had all but disappeared. It’s a similar sensation here. 

Such is the competence of the SR10 that it doesn’t take long to overcome the initial awkward exchanges. Radical has honed essentially this package for such a long time on racetracks the world over and it really shows. Beneath the mini-prototype bodywork there’s some lovely stuff: unequal length wishbones all round with adjustable pushrods, three-way adjustable Intrax dampers, centre-lock rims (8J x 15 front, 10.5J x 16 rear), four-pot brake calipers with 300mm discs and, of course, the spaceframe chassis with FIA-specification safety cell and crash structure. However, the real magic is how Radical creates high-downforce cars (this model produces circa 450kg against a kerb weight of 725kg) that feels so predictable and fluid at the limit. 

The SR10 is true to that tradition and, surprisingly, finds tremendous traction despite the abundant low-down torque. Every time I think I’ve opened the throttle too soon, the SR10 simply hooks up and goes. From feeling overambitious to rueing your timid efforts in about half a second is part of the learning curve with the SR10. It simply does things your brain and experience tell you shouldn’t be possible. Even on a cold day and a green track, the way it changes direction, stops and then hauls out of corners is pretty incredible. The gearbox is simply superb – fast, positive, mechanical – and the brakes are full of feel. I won’t pretend I don’t miss the scream of RPE’s own V8 engine but there’s no arguing with the effectiveness of the in-line four. Your trackday supercar wouldn’t know which way a Radical SR10 went. 

For all that there are issues. For a car so tactile and responsive, the heavy, kickback-prone steering is too much for me. I almost don’t want to admit it to the engineers but, reassuringly, when I do they nod in agreement and point to a development car in the next garage running their electric power steering system. It will be an option and it’s one that feels essential to me. It’s hard to tune into what the front tyres are doing when you’re having to muscle the car from your shoulders, especially in high-speed turns as the downforce builds. The stakes are high and just when you want to feel every change in surface or loading you instead feel overburdened with the effort of just keeping the thing on line. 

The bigger question is what you want from your trackday car. Do you want the quickest, most race-proven car, capable of generating the most eye-popping G-force (2.3 in cornering, now I come to mention it)? The Radical SR10 ticks those boxes. Especially if you want to graduate quickly to motorsport. But there’s none of the jewel-like detailing of an Ariel Atom here, nor the exquisite finish of the admittedly much pricier BAC Mono. The SR10 is awe-inspiring but it doesn’t command quite as much wonder as those ‘rivals’. It’s all function and isn’t offered as a road car. 

The SR8 with its 2.7-litre V8 goes a long way to overcoming those issues. It’s still a racecar in mind and body, but the engine gives it something akin to a soul. At the very least it will stir yours like little else. It’s a gleeful, joyous, searingly sharp ingredient that you simply can’t experience anywhere else. Think of it as three-quarters of a Valkyrie V12. Okay, maybe three-fifths. The point is that whilst the SR8 is special not solely because of its engine, to take away such a unique and exciting part and replace it with a more workmanlike four-cylinder turbocharged unit that sounds the same at 3000rpm or 7000rpm strikes a blow to its appeal. 

It’s impossible not to enjoy the SR10. This really is a fantastically capable and durable trackday car that can easily handle intensive racing, too. Furthermore, the logic behind it is perfectly sound. Even so, the call of that V8 is strong. Bedford was fun. Big fun. But it was Bedford. In an SR8 it would have been Spa, Monza, Brands Hatch GP or wherever you dream about driving.

Radical SR10 specs

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 2261cc, turbocharged
Power425bhp @ 6900rpm
Torque380lb ft @ 3900rpm
Weight725kg (596bhp/ton)
0-60mph2.4sec 
Top speed175mph (est)
Basic Price£126,000

This story was first featured in evo issue 282.

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