‘Fastest i8 on the Nürburgring’ laps 3sec slower than a 2008 Renault Megane. Kind of
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What do we have here, then?
The BAC Mono 2.5. The latest evolution of the no-roof, no-windscreen, track day special from Briggs Automotive Company – now fettled to produce even more power while offering a host of new options to lose even more weight.
More power? How’s that happened?
Thanks to new technical partner, Mountune. See, BAC ditched the 2.3-litre Cosworth-tuned four-cylinder engine of old in favour of a Mountune-fettled 2.5-litre. This new highly-strung lump sees power jump from 280bhp to 305bhp.
However, there’s a weight penalty with that extra capacity, 40kg to be precise. So standing on the scales, this new Mono comes in at 580kg – 40kg more than the previous car. What. A. Fatty.
Even with this extra mass, the power-to-weight is still punchy at 525bhp per tonne, bettering the likes of hypercars such as the Porsche 918 Spyder. And as we all know, power-to-weight is the main barometer of driving fun, not horsepower.
Isn’t adding more weight counter intuitive, though?
Not when you can take some of it back away again. See, if you have sufficient funds, you can chisel away at the kilos gram by gram (and pound by pound) thanks to the new options list.
First off, you tick the box that says ‘Visible Lower Carbon’. That’ll add even more carbon to your carbon panelled carbontastic car to the tune of £11,862.
Then there’s the set of trick Dymag carbon composite wheels. They’re the lightest 17-inch wheels on the planet, but surprisingly, not fully carbon. Instead, the rim (which features soft curved corners to boost strength) is made of carbon to lower the rotational weight of the wheel while the spokes (where stiffness is crucial) is milled from a solid billet of aluminium. It doesn’t stop there, as five titanium bolts make sure they don’t fall off while adding further strength and lightness. How much weight does that save? 212.5g per wheel. That’ll be £11,940, please.
Finally, you can add tiny but brutally effective carbon ceramic brakes for another £11,820, saving 2.5kg per corner. But as one of those inspirational Instagram posts will tell you, perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. And we’re really struggling to see what else can be taken away.
Are you saying it’s perfect, then?
As a solitary driving experience, it’s not far off.
Just getting in the thing is an event. There are no doors, just that tiny porthole to clamber in. BAC now offers a slightly wider set chassis (increasing the cabin by 56mm) for the more - ahem - portlier driver. Even so, snake hips are still required to nestle down into the fabulous carbon-fibre seat.
The driving position is still the best in the game. Feet up, backside down as you lie back and perch your eyeballs up to gaze down at a POV shot from an F1 PlayStation game - complete with wheel covered in coloured Skittles - and over the aero screen to the road ahead.
A long press of the starter button reveals it’s a visceral thing, especially with that even angrier engine throbbing away behind your head. The reverberations in the cockpit that make you jitter, jiggle and buzz incessantly would have you believe you’re in a carbon monocoque, but it’s still the same carbon fibre composite construction over a steel spaceframe chassis as before.
Even though it’s an incredibly serious bit of kit, the operation of the Mono is friendly and manageable, there’s a new drive-by-wire throttle system (not that we could tell) and the clutch is easy to use – perfect for the road, then. It’s compliant, too. As the ride’s violence can be dialled up or down depending on how much of a masochist you are thanks to the fully adjustable Sachs pushrod suspension.
Although it does have a VIN number, number plates and can chunter through central London’s traffic, you need a track to make the most of the performance, especially when 0-62mph is seen off in 2.8 seconds and you have 170mph of top speed to play with.
Is it a handful on track?
Not at all. It’s intuitive and responds to you instantly as you’re in the crosshairs of the chassis. In the dry, it’s not at all snappy as changes of direction feel very cohesive, giving you the confidence to open the taps.
When you reach its limits (or set your inputs to ‘Ham-Fisted’) it’ll either push at the front, or slip at the rear but any breakaway happens progressively. When up to temp in the dry, trying to overcome the traction of the bespoke Kumho Ecsta tyres (available in ‘Prime’ and ‘Option’ compounds – very F1) is quite a chore.
When driving quickly, the steering is so direct and positive you move the steering wheel telepathically to correct under- and oversteer with inputs quickly becoming instinctive and effortless rather than cerebral. You just want to go quicker and quicker and quicker.
And you should, as that new engine enters a new, angrier dimension than the old one. Like a Porsche GT3, you strive to live in the last few hundred rpm where the thing car sings and becomes its most violent. Then you pull the carbon paddle and the pneumatic six-speed Hewland gearbox – lifted straight out of an F3 car – gives you another cog and you go again.
It’s a truly addictive experience and an assault on the senses. Screw those new fancy 4D cinemas, if you want a true 4D experience, save money on the popcorn and drive one of these. Driving can’t get anymore four-dimensional as you’re continuously buzzed with vibration, stimulated sersorily as compressed air is fired into your earholes and your eyes try to keep the local scenery in focus as things splat against your face at silly miles an hour.
How much does this 4D experience cost?
Well, it ain’t cheap with the base car costing £163,140. But the car we drove with all the glitzy lightweight bits came in at an eye-watering £229,214.
For that price, you could buy a Caterham 620R, Ariel Nomad, KTM X-Bow and Radical SR3 SL. But what the Mono offers is completely unique, so if you want to experience it that’s the price you have to pay.
And all we can say is, if you like driving, slave away and work every day of your life until you make enough money so you can afford one. It doesn’t matter if you lose friends, family and a social life in the process, as it’s not like you can take anyone along for a ride anyway.
So there you have it, the new BAC Mono, a reason to celebrate selfishness.