Factory-built Great British Sports Car two-seater offers serious thrills for Hyundai i20 N money
By Sam Sheehan / Sunday, March 28, 2021 / Loading comments
Isn’t it great that the world of sub-£25k performance cars is on course to receive another likely star in the shape of the Hyundai i20 N? The once burgeoning hot supermini sector has long been crying out for a newcomer to share some of the Fiesta ST's sales burden. But there are other ways to spend the money if you're not too fussy about back seats or cutting-edge infotainment or, you know, roofs. Like, for example, this brand new GBS Zero two-seater, which is conveniently about £45 cheaper than the i20 N’s anticipated price.
Now, we’re not in any way trying to suggest Great British Sports Cars’ current Zero is anything like an i20 N or Fiesta ST. They are easy to live, easy to drive and all-round marvels of mainstream engineering. But it’s interesting to note just how much performance you can get for ST-3 money; a GBS Zero has no less than 150hp, weighs no more than 600kg and can crack 60mph in about 4.5 seconds. And it’s liable to feel 100 times faster than the stats suggest, so is comparable in real-world, hedge row-blurring experience with supercars, rather than sports cars. Let alone hot hatches.
Obviously, that's the inevitable trait of a featherweight car built around a spaceframe chassis, with only the frenetic bob of the front suspension to distract you from the business of going very quickly indeed. The Zero was originally launched in 2007, and its lightness and comparative simplicity are a familiar recipe. GBS will still gladly sell you one in kit form if you've got a suitable time and space to devote to the business of building one. Both right- and left-hand drive versions are available, as is a standard width chassis or wider 'GT' option.
Engine choice is also remarkably broad. GBS says it has the mounts and exhausts to suit everything from a Ford Twin Cam to a Honda S2000 motor. And it'll cheerfully entertain the idea of sliding a V6 or motorcycle unit into the Zero's dinky engine bay. You can even have an auto if you wish. (Perish the thought.)
The factory-built GBS Zero in the classifieds plays it safe, though with a naturally-aspirated Ford Zetec block that has only experienced 37 miles of use. The 2.0-litre engine comes with 150hp, but can be upgraded to 175hp or more, in a rolling chassis with a 50/50 weight distribution once all the hardware’s fitted. The comparative humbleness of the engine is one of the reasons why the car is a close match for the i20 N's starting price – but expect it to be pleasingly cheap to run (frugality is easy when there's so little to push), impressively resistant to depreciation and, of course, a total blast.
It goes without saying that most GBS owners will own at least one other car (or a commuter season ticket; or else are total heroes) and the Zero requires the kind of commitment a Hyundai most certainly does not. But we're here to remind you that there are some compelling alternatives when it comes to the business of dropping twenty-five big ones on a new car for post-Covid freedom – and something like the Zero sure would be a memorable way of getting back on the road.
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