You climb over a high side intrusion bar and drop down, down, down into the cockpit. Hands appear and belt you tightly into the car. You look at a new wheel-mounted scrollable LCD display, while rotary dials allow you to choose different throttle and gearbox maps and also the level of steering power assistance if that option box has been ticked, which, in my case, it had not. I’d like the wheel to be higher, but there’s no manual adjustment. Otherwise, the cockpit is spacious yet feels snug, which is a neat trick.
The engine blasts into life. From the first turn of the crank, it is clear this is simply a tool for doing the job, no more and no less. There’s quite a lot of vibration, it’s easy to stall when pulling away and there’s nothing remotely nice to say about the harsh blare it emits when stretched. But my goodness it gets the job done.
Because while 425bhp may not sound that much in these crazy times, when you consider how little car it has to push and that the result has a better power-to-weight ratio than a McLaren Senna, you begin to get an idea of just what you’re dealing with here. But it’s the torque that makes this car such a different experience from an SR3 or SR8.
In most important ways, it just makes life easier. If you’re ever anything other than as busy as you can be in something like the SR10, you’re driving the wrong car. And knowing that it doesn’t really matter if you’re a gear too high, or make a mistake and lose some speed, because all you need to do is twitch a toe to find it again, is a real bonus. It means you can concentrate more on guiding this missile around whichever track you’re on.
In my case that was the Bedford Autodrome’s West Circuit, which, with its short straights but super-quick combination corners, could have been tailor-made for showcasing the talents of a car such as this.
It is, of course, bloody rapid. As in quick enough around a place like this to make a typical hypercar look utterly pedestrian. And that’s to be expected: with slicks, a highly evolved aero pack, full race suspension and bugger all ground clearance, it has advantages no road car could enjoy. To give you an idea, it will generate about 2.3g lateral, which is double a perfectly respectable figure for road-going sports car. You find yourself tightening your belts until it’s almost difficult to breathe to stop yourself being slammed around the cockpit.
I had slightly tricky conditions – a bit too damp for slicks but too dry to make full use of the wets, but on both tyres and despite no driver aids of any kind, it gave no problems at all. You could skid it around in the slow stuff, the chassis balance was beautiful, and even when the back started sliding in the really quick turns on slicks, because the fronts switched on sooner than the rears, you never find yourself in crisis management mode.
The car is so light, inherently well set up and fundamentally stable that you can almost always just correct on the steering without thinking about getting off the throttle and losing time. You can quite easily lock an unloaded front tyre if you’re sloppy about bleeding off the brake pressure in the entry phase to a corner, but you can learn your way around that. All in all, it’s an impressive package.