AC is back with the seventh-generation version of its iconic Cobra sports car. It’s called the Cobra GT Roadster – and, with an output of 654bhp, it’s the most powerful road car the British brand has ever produced.

The GT Roadster might look like a classic Cobra, but your eyes deceive you. AC says this latest model shares no components with its grandfather – it’s a complete ground-up rebuild that uses lightweight materials, like carbon fibre and aluminium, and some tasteful modern technology.

AC Cobra GT Roadster (2023): rear three quarter static, blue car, CAD render at a racetrack

Its chassis, for example, is a clean-sheet aluminium spaceframe that’s longer, wider and stronger than the previous generation car’s. AC designed the chassis in tandem with the renowned Italian engineering company Cecomp – and the pair say the new platform has dropped the Cobra’s centre of gravity and improved its weight distribution which, in turn, has benefitted its handling.

The new Cobra needs a strong chassis, too, because it’s being asked to contain an awful lot of horsepower. It’s powered by a supercharged version of Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 Coyote engine which churns out 654bhp and 575lb/ft of torque. AC says that’s enough to allow the GT Roadster to sprint from 0–60mph in 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 173mph. Buyers also have the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a 10-speed automatic.

AC Cobra GT Roadster (2023): front three quarter static, blue car, CAD render in wilderness

The GT Roadster’s chassis and engine are draped in an all-new carbon fibre composite body that was carefully designed to mix elements of the original car with modern conveniences. Its overall profile is much like that of its grandfather, but the doors are bigger, there’s more space inside and there are provisions for a detachable roof. It even comes with LED headlights.

AC called on the expertise of the Italian design house Icona for help with the new Cobra’s styling. Its global design director, Samuel Chuffart, said: “The design challenge was a delicate one: to bring the AC Cobra back into a century of technology and advanced ergonomics, yet with a natural evolution that would not betray the car’s past. The finished roadster catches up on more than 50 years of progress, to offer a truly Iconic everyday super car with unmatched power and glamour.”

What’s the new Cobra GT Roadster’s interior like?

It’s a mixture of classic styling and modern convenience. There’s a pair of leather-trimmed fixed-back bucket seats, four-point harness and chrome roll-over hoops, all of which wouldn’t look out of place in an original Cobra. However, AC says this new car also gets creature comforts like electric windows, climate control and an infotainment system.

Perhaps most importantly, though, AC says the new Cobra will fit drivers of all shapes and sizes. The original car was a bit cramped so, when it was designing the chassis for this Mk7 variant, AC made sure to leave enough space in the platform to allow tall drivers with big feet to fit comfortably.

AC Cobra GT Roadster (2023): interior, CAD render

The Cobra’s instrumentation is a mix of analogue gauges and something AC calls an ‘Advanced Driver Information Centre.’ We also haven’t yet received details on the latter system, but we expect it’ll be a digital panel between the dials that displays items like coolant temperature, boost pressure and oil pressure. There’s a similar system in the Mustang – and, considering the new Cobra uses the Mustang’s engine, it would make sense to pinch its gauges.

Anything else worth mentioning?

AC is now Britain’s oldest operating vehicle manufacturer. It was founded in 1901 in West Norwood, London – but it’s been through a lot of owners in the past 120-odd years. As a result of this pass-the-parcel management strategy, the brand’s manufacturing operations have been moved abroad.

However, AC is starting to get back to its roots. The brand has established a new headquarters in Donington, Lincolnshire and, with the launch of the Mk7 Cobra, it has committed to returning the production of its cars to Europe. AC hasn’t yet confirmed where the new Cobra will be built, although it has said that it plans to expand its production and development operations in the UK.

Prices for the new AC Cobra GT Roadster will start from around £285,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in April 2023. The first cars are expected to reach customers in 2024.

AC Cobra GT Roadster (2023): front three quarter static, blue car, CAD render with a city background

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