Autocar - - Group Test - MATT PRIOR

I’m pretty old for a young bloke in this com­pany be­cause when I started in this game, in 1997, some of the cars were still on sale.

I’ve also cheated by driv­ing the 993 be­fore, so I’m aware of just how re­spon­sive, light and com­pact it feels. Rel­a­tively com­fort­able, too, and strong, with a very tidy ex­haust. You prob­a­bly wouldn’t, but you could, drive it daily.

But it’s the F355 — which I col­lect from, and re­turn to, Slade’s Garage — that I spend a se­ri­ous amount of time in and which makes a big­ger im­pres­sion.

And it’s a beau­ti­ful one. By modern stan­dards, yes, you feel like you’re sit­ting on, rather than in, the F355 be­cause of its low scut­tle and win­dow line. They help vis­i­bil­ity be­come ter­rific, but bet­ter than that is the fact that the body is around 1900mm wide, and the mir­rors pro­trude only 70mm more than that. A modern 488’s body is still un­der two me­tres, but throw in the mir­rors and it’s a 2.2m-wide car. The F55 is a good 300mm shorter too, so de­spite slower steering and a kerb weight not quite so dif­fer­ent to a modern car, it feels in­cred­i­bly wieldy and easy to place. Con­fi­dence giv­ing.

The man­ual gear­box is fab­u­lous too, the ped­als and con­trol weights all per­fectly lin­ear and ad­justable, and the en­gine makes the ‘right’ amount of power, in thrillingly re­spon­sive fash­ion.

It’s slower, less grippy, per­haps less ad­justable and qui­eter than any modern Fer­rari, it’s true. But on a good road, I might just take an F355 over any of them.

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