Launched with the apparent intention of rejuvenating the sports car segment, the latest among the Radicals – SR3 SL – does seem promising. The street-legal edition ‘SL’ is the first ever Radical to bag EU tyre label approval.
Radical has proven itself as a manufacturer with a meaningful business plan and realistic products since its inception in 1997. It was founded to make the most of increasing fervor for track days. Radical’s first range of motorbike-engined cars was so well-accepted that the company decided to manufacture a one-make race car series.
Over 1000 cars have rolled out from its production line till date, including one that grabbed the 20th spot at 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2009. The new SR3 SL, though, is its most actively road biased vehicle till date.
Design and Appearance
The SR3 SL, where SL stands for Street Legal, differs from the existing SR3 visually. The radii around the cockpit edge and frontal splitter have been broadened. Narrower rear wing and wheels placed further inboard, make this Radical a tad different, odd and less fast compared to its brethren. The car dons glass fiber bodywork and weighs 765kg.
Most Radicals come empowered with a 1300-1500cc superbike engine, generally Suzuki Hayabusa-derived. But the SR3 SL gets a Ford 2.0l turbocharged unit that builds up a 300bhp.
The SR3 SL’s interiors comprise sliding molded bench seats, including integral headrests on roll bars as against pads in other Radicals. The padded steering wheel, adjustable electric mirrors, a light and a heater are some features that make it road legal.
It has a decent driving position but the room inside will make two occupants struggle for shoulder room. The car offers a terrific view of the outside and the front wings have been designed to facilitate easy positioning of the vehicle. The switchgear and equipments are pretty straightforward.
The SR3 SL scores low on practicality though. It falls short of space to incorporate boot or even a small cubby.
Performance and Engineering
The Radical will be available with only a single engine option coupled with six-speed sequential transmission. The motor easily starts at the press of a button, and is remarkably and surprisingly quiet. On road, changing gears might emit an occasional clonk, but operating the clutch is pretty easy.
Radical claims that it’s SR3 SL can go from zero to 60mph in 3.4s flat and 100mph in 8.4s. The maximum speed it can traverse at is 161mph.
The throttle response and traction are decent. Despite absence of ABS, there’s good braking and pedal feel in the dry. In the wet, however, retardation is fine, but it’s difficult to tell when the wheel locks.
If you are setting your eyes on a car like Radical SR3 SL, then you most probably know that it’s going to come dear. And if fuel efficiency is what concerns you, you must consider a different sort of a car. While the claimed fuel economy is 28mpg, expect an average of 14.2mpg on an open road.
At £69,850, the Radical SR3 SL offers terrific performance, raw drive appeal and quality feel. The only downsides are a slight turbo lag, odd modifications for type approval and that it tramlines on the road. All in all, one of the most intoxicating track-cars to date.