The Brooke looks familiar...
It’s similar in style to Gordon Murray’s bike-engined Rocket from 1992, but the Brooke adopts a more conventional seating layout – two abreast, not one behind the other – and the engine is the 260bhp Cosworth four used in the Caterham CSR.
Not a lot. The Brooke weighs just 550kg, or 310kg less than a Lotus Elise. The composite panesl bolt onto a light but rigid tubular steel chassis made by the firm responsible for the CSR’s. The engine sits in a cradle behind the driver, accessed through the rear clamshell; expensive adjustable dampers allow the driver to tweak the ride to his taste. There’s also a set of 280mm ventilated brake discs clamped by twin-pot callipers to shed speed with enormous conviction, and sticky 205/50 Toyo tyres are wrapped around 15-inch OZ alloy wheels.
What’s it like to drive?
Every bit the retro racer. You step over the high sill and settle into a snug leather-lined plastic tub. Your view ahead is clutter-free: no A-pillar, no windscreen, nothing. In fact we felt a little exposed and the steering wheel seemed to be between our knees, rather than up high in front of us where we’d prefer it. The unassisted steering, heavy at first, lightens up on the move but it feels like a bit of a handful on the road, kicking violently in your hands over any sort of hole or ridge. On a smooth track though, where the Brooke makes more sense, it would probably be fine because it’s accurate and has bags of feel which, together with that lofty driving position and brilliant body control, helps you place the car precisely.
What about that engine?
It’s desperate to rev and delivers brutal acceleration: Brooke reckons on 4sec to 60mph, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was even quicker. There’s enough torque (200lb ft) to save you from constantly wringing the 2.2-litre lump’s neck, but when the traffic clears that’s exactly what you’ll want to do. Flatten the pedal and the thing catapults forward, and with your head stuck up in the airstream you’re immediately aware that the Brooke is swift enough to bait genuine supercars. But then you get the needle on the tasty Stack display’s rev counter past 6000rpm and the world goes beserk - and you really have to hold on tight.
Tell me about the downsides?
No roof means when it rains you’ll get wet. No meaningful windscreen means you’re in danger of being assaulted by flies, birds and the cold unless you wear a helmet. Which is a bit of a shame because wearing a helmet on the road isn’t that great. They’re annoying and you look like a fool. The only other downside is the price: £27,995 for the basic 200bhp car, £31,995 for the 260 we drove and a heady £36,995 for the top-dog 300bhp car. It has to be said that £32k is cheap in the context of the competition – a Caterham CSR with 260bhp is £37k – but it’s still a lot of money for what is essentially a toy.
For Brooke to come from nowhere and build such a sorted car is impressive indeed. The Double R is a worthy adversary for Caterham, Westfield, Radical and all the other established names in the track-day world. But as people who like to use our cars on a regular basis, we’d have to suggest you seriously consider something like a Lotus Exige instead. Not quite as visceral an experience, granted, but not far off and a car that you could use day in day out, not just on summer weekends.