Ginetta G60 (2011) review

Published: 21 October 2011

Ginetta G60 (2011) review
  • At a glance
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On paper the new Ginetta G60 looks likely to be a bit of a disaster: it’s had a painful birth, morphing from Farboud to Farbio to Ginetta over an agonising decade or so; it has a humble Ford V6 with just 310bhp under its exotic carbonfibre skin and yet looks to compete with a car as complete and sophisticated as the Porsche 911; and it has no power steering and the brakes don’t have ABS or a servo…

Like I said, it’s a tough sell. The one killer fact that could redeem it is an all-up weight of 1080kg – that’s 300kg less than a new 911 Carrera and 215kg lighter even than the Cayman R.

If it's so light, what are the bare stats for the new Ginetta G60 please?

Well aside from not fitting power assistance to anything (or ‘any nannying electronics’ as straight-talking owner Lawrence Tomlinson would put it), the G60’s carbonfibre bodywork that clads a light but stiff and strong tubular steel chassis is the real key. It means the Ford Mustang-sourced 3.7-litre V6’s 310bhp and 288lb ft give an Aston Vantage S-busting power-to-weight ratio and launches the mid-engined Ginetta to 60mph in 4.9 seconds and on to 165mph. The performance and carboncentric construction go some way to justifying the £68,000 price of entry.

And then there’s the way this thing looks. It really is a feelgood design – low and athletic, loaded with promise and a hint of glamour. It might not have the brutal outrageousness of TVRs of old, but it’s a sophisticated and exciting car to be around. Today we’re driving a slightly leggy pre-production car but the orange car you see in the pictures has some lovely carbon detailing, too. Makes you just want to jump in and drive.

Blimey, the interior isn’t bad either. There’s a carbon centre console housing a touchscreen control system for everything from the climate control to the audio and sat-nav functions that works really well. Plus there are neat silver-faced dials behind a funky, thick-rimmed carbon steering wheel and the driving position is great. The way you feel like you’re sat right at the pointy end of an arrow is very NSX and somehow very exotic. For a low volume sportscar the quality and the whole vibe is professional, grown-up and really gets your nerves tingling with anticipation.

How does the G60 drive?

The bad news is that the steering is very heavy at low speeds and that the brakes are almost solid, requiring a seriously hefty shove. If you’ve never been in a racecar you’ll struggle to get past the intimidation factor to actually enjoy the feel once you start to work them hard. Everything else is very good. The engine is beautifully torquey, the gearbox clicks between shifts with precision and the pedal box is spot-on. Even better the G60 gets the detail right – it’s refined when you’re ambling or cruising and then ramps-up the noise when you start to work the V6 harder.

On the ragged roads near the Silverstone launch venue the G60 is physical but poised and fluent. Two things stand out – the absolute rigidity of the structure and the sheer energy of that V6. It had registered that the G60 was a featherweight but it’s hard to imagine just what 310bhp can do to 1080kg until you crack open the throttle and leap towards the next corner. And what a noise! At high revs it sounds like a giant elastic band has been twanged behind your head – a deep, jagged howl.

What else?

The low mass has benefits in handling terms, too. The G60 might have heavy steering but there’s little doubt that you’re turning a light car from the way it resists understeer and seems immune from body roll. The rigid chassis plays its part here, not emitting so much as a creak and allowing the suspension to work at optimum efficiency. I’d say the set-up is a little too stiff for most UK roads at the moment but the dampers are fully adjustable so this should be easy to rectify.

Tomlinson is determined that the G60 doesn’t need power steering, brakes or ABS and I can see his point. At anything over about 40mph the steering is wonderfully detailed and brilliantly responsive, the brakes are terrific and even the torque of the V6 won’t trouble the rear tyres unless you’re on a track or driving like a lunatic. However, not all of us have won Le Mans and ABS is one of those things you only need once in a blue moon – but then you really need it.

Still, with a target of just 50 G60s globally per year I think Ginetta will find and fill a niche comfortably. Ginetta say they’re working to lighten the steering at low speed and building a bit more travel into the brake pedal for ease of use. If they can deliver on those promises this will be a very hard car to ignore for people whom prize dynamics and fun above key-ring cachet.

Verdict

The G60 isn’t some knocked-together British sportscar built in a shed in Leeds. It’s a well-sorted, well-finished and exciting drivers’ car and a unique experience. Can’t wait to see where they go from here.  

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Specs

Price when new: £68,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3721cc 24v V6, 310bhp @ 6500rpm, 288lb ft @ 4500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.9sec 0-60, 165mph, 31mpg
Weight / material:
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

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