- Car Reviews
Utterly ferocious, eye-widening performance, build quality, untamed nature
Gearbox is a real weak point, untamed nature
What is it?
The car with the world’s most bonkers rear wing. You’ve heard of active aero and seen flaps moving and airbrakes deploying, but you’ve never seen anything quite like the body-popping transformer on the back of the Zenvo TSR-S. There’s plenty to discuss there, but before we do, let me tell you a bit about the company and how they got here.
Zenvo is Denmark’s only car company and has been building cars since 2007. The numbers are small – less than 25 over the company’s lifetime but, like Koenigsegg in Sweden, instead of relying on suppliers, they do an awful lot of the work on the car themselves. Troels Vollertsen, Zenvo’s founder (the name comes from the first and last syllables of his surname, reversed), is an ex-race mechanic and engineer. His speciality is powertrains, so Zenvo doesn’t rely on crate motors from Ford or GM, but instead uses its own (admittedly GM-based) 5.8-litre twin-supercharged V8. “Everyone is so afraid of doing an engine, but I don’t think the engine is that bad – the gearbox is twice the work, and the interior… that’s really difficult.”
The twin supercharged V8 develops a not inconsequential 1,177bhp, and only has to move a dry weight of 1,495kg. It’s rear wheel-drive via a single-clutch sequential gearbox – but an unusual one that uses race-style dogs and controls both the input and output shafts to mesh the gears. The claims are 0-62mph in 2.8secs and 0-124mph in 6.8secs – similar figures to a Ferrari SF90.
Top speed is limited to 202mph, because the TSR-S is all about the aero. Here’s Vollertsen again: “The TSR track car had a fixed rear wing, but I’d been thinking that maybe we could alter the downforce so we could put more pressure back across to the unloaded inside wheel while cornering, so you not only get downforce, but also create an effect like an anti-roll bar. So we took the standard wing and tried it at different angles in the simulation, and we could see there was a massive impact.” Remember Lamborghini’s ALA rear wing that bleeds airflow and so on? Well, this is a similar idea, just way more extrovert.
Because aero forces work at right angles to the wing, if you go into a right-hander the wing leans left (like its falling off due to the g-forces), and the airflow is reorientated, helping to add pressure down through the stanchions, back towards the inside of the car. While the pitch of the wing varies infinitely depending on a wide range of parameters (speed, g force, acceleration and brakes), the wing leans straight to 15 degrees either way, activated once it detects a 0.5g lateral loading, then pulled briskly over by hydraulic rams. Developed in conjunction with Aerotak, a Danish company that also did the aero work on the Koenigsegg One:1, Zenvo limits downforce to a maximum of 270kg by varying the wing’s angle of attack.
This is not a track-only hypercar though. Zenvo sees itself more along the lines of Koenigsegg or Pagani than aping a McLaren Senna GTR. The rear wing is a handy USP, the main mission is to deliver an unforgettable driving experience.
What's the verdict?
What’s the question if the answer is Zenvo? It’s not like you’re going to list the attributes you want from a car and arrive at the conclusion that the TSR-S is the only thing that fits the bill. And this is the dilemma at the heart of cars like this. You don’t need it, it doesn’t perform a useful function, it’ll be awkward to use and tricky to run. And some of it doesn’t work as well as it should. The suspension needs more fettling, but the biggest drawback is the gearbox. As it stands at the moment, it’s not fit for purpose – whatever purpose you choose for this car to have.
All a car like this needs to justify its existence is a USP, and in its bonkers rear wing the TSR-S has a good one. Seven figures to have a rear wing that moves like a Strictly contestant with a cactus caught in their strides? Beyond frivolous. But it’s not a car you’re buying, it’s an experience and part of that experience when the company is this small, is that you’re buying into the firm, they’re taking you along with them. This is an extreme automotive purchase, and alongside anything from a big name brand it’s relatively crude. But there’s a certain charm in that: I can think of no wilder numberplated ride than this.