This is the new Farbio GTS 400 – the Bath-based car maker’s hottest sports car yet – and CAR Online is the first to take it out onto the road. Earlier this year we drove the standard 262bhp Farbio GTS and while we liked it very much, it was crying out for more power. Well, there’s now power aplenty: Farbio owner Chris Marsh has dropped a new 410bhp supercharged V6 into his carbonfibre-bodied two-seater to create a performance model for the line-up badged GTS 400. And it’s pretty impressive…
Remind me about Farbio. What with the vaguely similar Lotus Evora and Artega GT, I’m a little confused!
Four years ago, ex-Marcos and Invicta boss Chris Marsh picked up what was left of Arash Farboud’s eponymous car company after he was invited to run the company. He bought out Farboud, relocated to the Cotswolds near Bath and completely redeveloped the car under the new Farbio banner.
Three years and £4 million later Marsh unveiled the sleek and shapely GTS. By sticking to tried-and-trusted components (a Ford-sourced V6 and six-cog transmission, for example), introducing a novel and cost-effective carbonfibre ‘bagging’ system for the car and focusing on the product rather than the marketing, Marsh was able to keep costs down and quality up. But the £94,000 GTS 400 performance flagship propels Farbio into an altogether different league.
A supercharged V6 with 410bhp sound appetising…
The 2967cc bent six is kitted out with uprated conrods and trick pistons to boost high-rev durability and lower the compression ratio. It’s breathed on by a Rotrex blower that has its own charge cooler which lowers the air temperature from 95°C (in) to 40°C (out). Boost rises from 0.4bar to 0.85bar, and the whole drivetrain is handled by a heavily recalibrated ECU unit.
The result is 410bhp at 6500rpm and 340lb ft of twist at 6100rpm. Marsh had originally designed the car to handle up to 500bhp, so its tubular steel and carbonfibre chassis should be well up to handling the extra muscle.
The Farbio GTS 400 is quick then?
Yes indeed. With just 1046kg to push around, the Farbio does a fine impression of a ground-hugging ballistic missile, rocketing to 60mph in 3.7 seconds and topping out at a wailing 180mph. From lumpy idle to serrated redline, the engine feels muscular, surging ahead on the whiff of throttle and reeling in the horizon with sustained surges of expletive-inducing acceleration.
It’s above 4000rpm that the engine gives its best, but despite its peaky torque curve, it's also quite happy to rumble about in traffic and will pull cleanly from jogging pace in top gear without hiccup. And it sounds fabulous too: a mixture of engine waarp, supercharger whine and wastegate whoosh filling the cabin every time the engine loses or gains revs.
Does the rest of the dynamic package stack up?
Absolutely. Despite that licence-losing pace, the Farbio never feels twitchy or skittish – it goes where you point it with a machined precision. There’s no slop or slack, and the whole car feels incredibly well sorted and secure.
Marsh has tinkered with the steering for more off-centre feel, allowing you to place the car along the road with minimal inputs and real confidence, while the big AP Racing brakes bite with real determination. Despite those ultra low-profile tyres wrapped on 20-inch carbonfibre rims (they weigh just 7kg a corner and are standard fit on the GTS 400), the ride is compliant and civilised, the double-wishbone suspension smoothing out all but the worst intrusions.
The Farbio looks the part, too
For a car created in a converted barn in the middle of the countryside, the Farbio looks wonderfully fresh and clean. Balanced proportions and neat detailing effectively camouflage the Farbio’s size – although it feels compact and chuckable at 4215mm long and 1940mm wide, it’s closer to Ferrari F430 in size than a Lotus Elise.
It’s good to sit in, too. You feel like you’re driving a Group C racer – the cab is pushed right forward for a wonderfully panoramic view out, framed by those bulging front wheelarches. Despite the low kerb-kissing cockpit, you sit upright and there’s plenty of room in all directions. Fit and finish is good and that touch-screen unit that controls the satnav, audio and ventilation systems works brilliantly.
It all sounds very good so far – is there a big 'but' looming?
There are some niggles, but nothing insurmountable. The cable-operated throttle feels sticky and, the steering wheel could do with reach adjustment – it feels too far away – and there’s no room for your left foot when cruising. But our biggest concern is the pricing. At £94,000 the GTS 400 is very expensive.
Looks and performance aside, that’s a lot of wedge for a car with a badge few people have heard of. That kind of money can buy you an Audi R8 with change, or – with a bit of haggling – get you into a Porsche 911 Turbo. Seriously good cars.
Marsh believes that for many potential buyers, not being a Porsche or an Audi will be the Farbio’s greatest asset. Exclusivity at this level, he reckons, is arguably more important than outright performance and pub-bragging top speeds. And while UK and European orders have slowed considerably, as you’d expect in the current climate, a surge in orders from the Middle and Far East has kept the smile on Marsh’s face.
We can't help being impressed with the latest Farbio GTS 400. Yes, it costs the same money as a lot of very talented and tasty metal, but its styling, integrity and lineage are a world away from what we’ve come to expect from the low-volume car market in this country.
Designed and developed with a passion for engineering rather than image-driven marketing, the Farbio delivers on its visual promise. There won’t be many owners out there, relatively speaking, but they’ll be immediately distinguished by the grins permanently etched on their faces.