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From the archives: TG vs the TVR Tuscan Mk2

As TVR returns, relive our first road test of Tuscan Mk2

  1. TVR Tuscan Mk2 front

    As TVR returns with a brand new Griffith, here’s the time Top Gear magazine tested the original TVR Tuscan, way back in 2005…

    Just what is it about the Tuscan? Five years old now and still it sets the pulse racing. Maybe it’s the ever-present threat of unprovoked oversteer, or maybe it’s the ability to knock sleeping birds from their branches with a touch of the starter button. It’s brash, it’s British, it’s sexy, it’s plastic. And now, so they say, it’s better.

    This is the Tuscan Mk2. Subtly restyled outside, but more seriously fettled within. Beneath the watchful gaze of TVR’s new 20-something Russian owner, Nikolai Smolenski, this is the first of a new breed of cars that, while true to the company’s hardcore roots, promises to be a bit more user-friendly.

    This feature was originally published in issue 193 of Top Gear magazine, in 2005

  2. TVR Tuscan Mk2 interior

    You’d be forgiven for taking the phrase user-friendly with a sizeable pinch of salt when discussing Blackpool-built 3.6-litre straight-six sports cars. But in truth, the first thing you notice about the Tuscan II is how utterly tractable it is. Initial kangarooing-in-the-car-park anxieties abated, and the new car proves itself to be a bit of a softy round town. The clutch is light, the steering perfectly assisted and the throttle easily measured.

    All round visibility is good, and alongside an improved driving position and better touch-point ergonomics, the cabin is now a genuinely accommodating place to be. Add to this a properly big boot, fantastically intuitive switchgear and, God forbid, even a couple of door-pocket cup holders, and you might start to entertain fears that the Tuscan really has gone soft.

  3. TVR Tuscan Mk2 side

    But put your worries aside. Even in non ‘S’ guise, the new car pushes 350bhp and twists 290lb ft of torque. That means 0-100mph in under 10 seconds and a claimed top speed of over 180mph. Happily, the new nose and tweaked back end have improved the Tuscan’s aerodynamics, and we’re told that revised suspension geometry has added some gumption to the ever-so-slightly suspect high-speed stability of the original car.

    So the beast is still very definitely lurking within. There are precious few road cars in the world today, especially for under £40k, that are even exciting at idle. But the Tuscan is one of them. There’s an element of genuine menace in the murmurings of TVR’s rugged six. Blip the throttle and those murmurs become an uneven series of bowel-loosening bellows. And then there’s the view. Nothing around can match it. From the low-slung cockpit, staring out over the alien curves of the wheel and dash, there’s still acres of the most impossibly sculpted bonnet to get beyond. It remains a weird and intimidating place to be.

  4. TVR Tuscan Mk2 rear

    It’s strange, but edging out of town, the Tuscan instills more and more confidence with every minute in the saddle. The arse/asphalt relationship is still immensely intimate, but the ride is perfectly pliant for a car with such focus. And at a rush hour crawl, the Tuscan Mk2 is calm, comfortable and cooperative, containing with easy reserve the bone-crushing potency within.

    Find a decent B-road though,  and working through the hefty five-speed ’box will help shed a few pounds, while the super-stiff brake pedal demands plenty of energetic footwork. But these are positive attributes. To make the Tuscan more approachable is a smart play, but only with the assurance that any extra cosseting will not alienate diehard TVR aficionados.

  5. TVR Tuscan Mk2 wheels

    The most obvious, and perhaps most risky, alteration is to the steering. Flicking about familiar back routes, it is discernibly slower. The official figure is two turns lock-to-lock, up from the original 1.7 turns. But in real terms this just makes the Tuscan slightly less fidgety, and thus a tad less stressful. The car remains lithe and pointy, but without the anticipated jitters.

    So the Tuscan is still formidable, as ally or adversary, depending on how you treat it. And it’s retained the sense of drama that, in this price range, TVR has made its own.

  6. TVR Tuscan Mk2 rear

    But these changes beg a question. Where is the company taking its buyers with the new car? Design touches such as wheel-mounted dip-switch are inspired. The beautifully machined door release is also a lesson in tactile simplicity, and the likes of the infinitely adjustable digital read-out and change-up light that monitors your running-in period would impress from any manufacturer. But even allowing TVR the benefit of the doubt over reliability, how does the extra cossetting and superficial innovation sit alongside the hard-headed engineering that is the double helix of their cars? TVR is quick to point out that race-bred structural integrity makes its cars inherently safe, but who wouldn’t forgo an wheel-mounted ally toggle switch in favour of an airbag?

  7. The Tuscan is a car you can’t help but be utterly seduced by, but it’s the utilitarian basics that win you over, rather than the frenzy of technology and Batmobile aesthetics. We want one. With door handles.

  8. TVR Tuscan Mk2 side

    Specs

    Performance: 0-62mph in 4.2secs, max speed 180+mph, n/a mpg
    Drivetrain: 3605cc, 6cyl, RWD
    Power: 350bhp, 290lb ft 
    Weight: 1100kg

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