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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Unique. Breathtaking. Vastly capable and secure. It’s a bit of an odd one actually, because it doesn’t actually feel that fast. Partly this is because you’re strapped in so tight you’re part of the car, rather than sloshing about and having to brace yourself. But also it’s because the Mono is so together. Every component complements the ones around it. Nothing is out of balance.

So the acceleration is in tune with the braking, which is in harmony with the cornering. There’s never any unwanted movement, instead the car flows from one state into the next without apparent effort. Now, we do need to caveat this slightly.

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In what way?

It depends on the suspension set-up. The Mono R we drove recently was in full track trim. On road it was deeply hectic, the steering tugging this way and that, the suspension extremely firm.

But we know better. In road trim a regular Mono has the ability to glide along, filtering out the worst and yet keeping you informed. A full house Mono R doesn’t bother with filtering. It just gives you everything and you have to sort out what’s important. This information bombardment is intimidating and inevitably slows you down. Probably no bad thing. But on road a smoother Mono is a faster Mono.

Either way it’s an enthralling car to drive. The central driving position is immediately natural, forward visibility is wonderful, and the tactility and feedback in the controls is such that you have complete confidence in the car.

How about on track?

All of that, dialled up to 11. I can’t think of another car that puts you in better touch with the tyres or gives you more confidence to push it. Being small, light and reactive you’d imagine it could feel flighty, but it doesn’t.

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Instead it’s entirely instinctive. Lying on your back with the engine behind your head and the six-speed sequential transmission firing through gearchanges, it becomes an act of instinct to thread the Mono through corners – albeit one requiring a recalibration of your brain to deal with its physics-warping ability. At the very limit of grip, there’s a hint of understeer, but for the most part, the BAC is deliciously neutral, making it easy to explore the Mono’s limits without fear it’ll deposit you in the Armco.

Is there a weak point?

If we’re being exceptionally picky, the engine. Not for its power, torque or immaculate response, but the noise. It’s not very tuneful or rorty, more a flat, angry blare. It’s loud, with a corking induction snarl happening either directly over your head (Mono) or right by your left ear (Mono R).

As far as the chassis goes, there isn’t really a weakness. Arguably the steering weights up too much through very fast corners, and there isn’t quite enough feel in the non-ABS brake pedal to prevent messy lock-ups, but then the tyres are the limiting factor. To really get the most out of the R you need to be on slicks. That would give the carbon ceramic brakes something to get their teeth into, and would mean the full motorsport ignition-cut traction control wouldn’t be so busy out of corners.

Sum it up for me.

It is genuinely thrilling. As an experience it’s more intense and physical than any closed cockpit hypercar and the central driving position delivers F1 fantasies. It’s so beautifully balanced and flattering that you can play at the limits and extract huge performance from it without needing to be a driving god.

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