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Sin R1 review: Bulgaria’s ‘Vette-engined supercar driven

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I’ve never seen this car before. What’s a Sin R1?

The R1 550 is the first road car from Sin Cars. The company is based in Ruse, Bulgaria, and it was founded by Bulgarian businessman and racing driver Rosen Daskalov. It’s a relatively lightweight two-seater supercar with a mid-mounted V8.

It’s Bulgaria’s first ever homegrown car. The Eastern European country has been home to a small number of foreign-owned car factories over the years, mostly building cheap and slightly grim family cars and commercial vehicles. But the arrival of Sin Cars means Bulgaria now has its very own supercar company.

Actually, Sin Cars does ring a bell…

It should do. The company was first launched in the UK back in 2012. Daskalov was working with a British business partner at the time, but after a number of disagreements they went their separate ways. Daskalov moved the company back to his hometown and continued developing the R1.

So what are the technical specifications?

The R1 is built around a steel tubular spaceframe chassis, not a carbonfibre monocoque. The spaceframe is very strong and relatively cheap to make, but it’s also heavier than a carbon tub. Nonetheless the car is still pretty light at around 1,400kg. The Ferrari 488 GTB is almost 100kg heavier.

The engines are 6.2 or 7.0-litre V8s, essentially like those fitted in the Chevrolet Corvette, although Sin Cars goes to town on them. The 7.0-litre naturally aspirated engine tested here has its pistons and bearings replaced with high performance items, a dry sump lubrication system is fitted – better for track driving and it also means the engine can be positioned lower in the chassis – and it uses a bespoke, part-titanium exhaust.

The bodywork is all carbon and the rear wing is active. The brakes are supplied by AP Racing and the dampers by Ohlins. The suspension is very high-spec – it uses double wishbones all round with in-board mounted springs and dampers, racing car style. Buyers can choose between a sequential paddleshift gearbox and a traditional six-speed manual, and there’s a limited-slip differential, too.

How fast is the R1 then?

This 7.0-litre V8 develops 542bhp and 472lb ft of torque. Sin Cars quotes a 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds and a 186mph top speed, so it’s pretty rapid. If that isn’t fast enough, the company also offers a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 with almost 650bhp. Daskalov suggests there are even more powerful models in the pipeline, too.

Is it any good to drive?

It is, although it’s also quite challenging. The interior is nicely trimmed and the seating position is spot on – although some of the switch gear feels cheap – so the driving environment is mostly pretty good.

Electric power steering is standard and the system is very, very light, which means the car is easy to manoeuvre at low speed. But the steering can be vague and spooky at first. You do get used to it, though.

The clutch pedal is quite weighty but the throttle very light, so it’s easy to pull away with an unnecessary burst of revs. The open-gated manual gearbox isn’t too hefty, although the springing across the gate is inconsistent so you have to be careful not to snag the wrong gear. Once up to speed the R1 is massively fast and really exciting to drive.

Sin has made the engine loud and raw. It’s a proper, authentic V8 soundtrack, rumbling like thunder. The R1 feels quick in a straight line, although the twin-turbocharged 488 GTB delivers a bigger hit to the kidneys. But with a manual gearbox the R1 is more challenging and therefore more rewarding – you really have to be on your game to get the most out of the engine and transmission. 

Tricky thing, then…

Yes, and the most challenging thing about the R1 is its chassis balance. There’s no understeer at all and lots of oversteer, which means the moment you turn into a corner the car wants to spin.

The light steering can make it tricky to work out when that’s going to happen, but soon enough you learn to understand the car and control the rear end. Such aggressive balance means the R1 will basically carry as much speed into a bend as you ask it to, which makes it really fast around a lap.

But while the balance is aggressive, the suspension is actually relatively soft and pliant, so the car doesn’t bounce and skip along uncomfortably. The brakes, meanwhile, are really strong and they hardly fade.

That all sounds promising. How much is the R1?

The R1 550 costs €199,900 (before tax), so around £200,000. That makes it a little more expensive than the 488 GTB. So far 20 cars have been built and Sin Cars will never build more than 30 a year, so it’ll always be exclusive. We can expect to hear much more from Sin Cars in the future, too.

What do you think?

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