I had the chance to try my 172 out around Oulton Park yesterday. I had no intention of taking it on the track but I owed someone a favour and that turned out to be a passenger ride ....
Bear in mind that I hadnt prepped the car for the track and I was driving at around 80%, but my immediate impression was - this is a very good trackday car.
Track sessions tend to show up weaknesses which you never notice on the road, but I was pushed to find any.
In the lower gears you have to time your gearchanges accurately, otherwise you end up bouncing off the limiter or dropping out of the power. This involved changing up midway through the Knicker Brook chicane, but this didnt upset the car. I didnt even notice the dreaded torque-steer the 172 is supposed to be plauged with (just the odd twitch as the inside wheel broke traction on acceleration out of a corner).
Driven properly you can achieve high corner entry speeds without understeer. If you arrive at the turn-in point and snap the car in the car will push on, but roll it progressively into the corner and itll go round good as gold. Mid-corner and exit traction was impressive too (standard Contis, standard pressures). It was quite easy to adjust the line mid-corner using the power - not easy in a lot of fwd cars. Body roll was noticeable but not a problem (may be more of a problem on tracks with lots of corner combinations but not at Oulton).
Brakes - excellent for a road car. I could brake at the same point as the quicker R500s, and braking from 100mph+ into a 30mph chicane was drama-free, tyres chirrupping away but without the ABS cutting in. Plenty of stopping power to spare and no fade. The brakes felt a bit dead for the first few miles back on the road, but the feel came back after maybe 50 miles.
The only problem I had was a slipping clutch, but the it was suspect beforehand anyway.
Overall impression - driven correctly (i.e. be smooth) it is a very quick track car. How would I improve it? More supportive seats and a 4 point harness. Of course you could improve it for the track, but as a road car which will make the odd excursion on the track I would leave it alone.
We also had a V6 on the circuit. I dont want to hack any V6 owners off, but on the track it looked horrible! The thing looked like it wanted to swap ends on the entry to every corner, even braking 25 yards before the 172. It looks like they are set up very soft at the rear in an attempt to get some traction, but on the exit to each corner it looked like it was about to drag its rear bumper! Having said that it looked very quick in a straight line.
I have suggested that the owner come and join this board - maybe he can get the handling problems sorted but it looked pretty scary. Im sure Ill get flamed by our resident V6 owners but Im just reporting what I saw.