The Tuscan 2 is a significant launch for TVR. It blends all the most successful elements of TVRs past with the progress that the company has made over the past few years. A myriad of detail changes demonstrate the attention to detail that TVR’s engineers and stylists have dedicated themselves to while evolving the most popular TVR of recent years. Since the Tuscan was first launched in 2000, TVR has achieved what was previously thought to be impossible for a company of its size, but TVR has never been intimidated by projects that would daunt much larger car manufacturers.
Every car is hand-built to a customer's own specification; every engine has the engine builder's initials on it. Nowhere else can you buy a car of such sophistication, which is all hand-made, to your own order, for a price even remotely comparable. In the case of the latest generation of cars, this philosophy has been implemented even further and everything, from body to chassis to engine and in this case even the switchgear and instrumentation, is designed and crafted in house. Yet despite all this talk of craftsmanship, it would have been impossible for TVR to have engineered such cars ten or fifteen years ago.
The very latest high technology has been used, not in the styling but in the design engineering, to enable one of the largest British-owned car manufacturers to produce simple and elegant solutions to problems of how to hand-build such sophisticated cars in such small volumes. It is only at the stage that a design has to be compromised in order to mass-produce it where TVR parts company from high tech – a robot could never assemble an engine of the sophistication of the Speed Six.
TUSCAN 2 The most important debut of all for TVR at the 2004 Birmingham Show is that of the Tuscan 2. The TVR Tuscan Speed Six originally went into production early in 2000 and since then TVR have built more than 2,500 of them.
The changes to the car are significant:
• Now available in three variants – Targa, new Convertible and S
• New evolved styling with improved aerodynamic package
• New suspension geometry for all T350s, Tamoras and Tuscans
• New slower steering rack for Targa and Convertible
• New spring, damper and anti-roll bar combinations for Tuscan S
• New dashboard including new digital instrument binnacle, flat panel speakers, starter button and door and window controls
• Revised seats with extra lateral support available and revised seatbelt design
While the roof and rear screen have always been removable on the Tuscan, many customers have expressed a desire for a full convertible. The new Tuscan convertible is launched with the 350 bhp Speed Six engine and is priced at £39,750, which is identical to that of the targa. It features twin rollover hoops that are bolted through to the chassis and slightly staggered for increased rollover stiffness as well as being trimmed for elegance. The carbonfibre roof panel is lighter than those of convertible TVRs of old for ease of use and the roof hoop is locked onto the rollover protection by means of screw catches which are very easy to fit as well as making the whole structure immensely strong. Boot space is also increased to cavernous compared to any of its competition, which adds even further to the surprising practicality of Tuscan 2.
The styling of all Tuscans has been changed with aerodynamics at the forefront of the stylists’ minds. Led by Graham Browne and with Peter Wheeler’s customary considerable input, TVR’s design team have worked with the brief of reducing drag and increasing downforce. They have achieved this with the aero package of the Tuscan S reducing its lift even further, necessitated by the higher performance engendered by its 400 bhp motor. Its front splitter has been influenced by the aerodynamics work performed by TVR’s engineers in the Le Mans programme and it has a higher tail to place its larger gurney well up into the airflow. TVR’s suspension engineers have not been idle either.
All TVRs on the Tuscan platform (including Tamoras and T350s) will now feature new suspension geometry adding more castor and camber change to suit the latest tyre designs with the rack position having to move to maintain zero bump steer. While this has necessitated an adjustment to the rack height, the opportunity has been taken to use the electro-hydraulic power assisted steering rack from the Tamora and the T350, which has had its speed reduced by 10%. The spring, damper and anti-roll bar rates stay largely the same on the Targa and Convertible and, while most customers opt for the 18” wheels for cosmetic reasons, 16” wheels remain standard which, with the latest tyres from the Goodyear Dunlop stable, give outstanding levels of ride comfort for the class. 18” wheels give a sportier look and feel without degrading the ride by any significant degree.
The suspension is now much stiffer on the Tuscan S, which will run a similar set-up to the Sagaris with much higher spring, damper and anti-roll bar rates which help to keep the attitude of the car flat, quite significantly adding to the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.
The interior of Tuscan 2 has also been dramatically changed over the existing model. Most immediately obvious is the new instrument binnacle. For three years, TVR has been building Tamoras and latterly T350s with a combined analogue and digital set up and it appears that the analogue part of it has become redundant. As Britain’s roads become more and more plagued by cameras, extremely accurate speed readings have become of paramount importance and a digital readout is the only way of delivering this. On the revs side, no-one can tell when to change gear in a car of a TVR’s performance by using an analogue rev counter and so a combination of digital read out and shift lights has been found to work best on both racing and road cars. An analogue gauge gives a rough impression of engine speed but anyone who has lived with a car for longer than a weekend can do that by ear. The shift light system also has the benefit of being automatically set lower until the oil temperature is sufficient to allow sympathetic use of higher engine revs. All the other extra data that TVR owners have become accustomed to such as outside air temperature, battery volts, oil pressure and temperature, water temperature, fuel level etc. are all available to the driver as is a small warning on the rare occasions that the car’s extremely sophisticated self-diagnosis system might have picked anything up.
The Tuscan 2, along with all other new TVRs, features the new British designed and made NXT AFR extremely thin high quality speakers which are mounted high up in the car to raise the sound stage, and which provide an extremely clear and even sound to both driver and passenger.
The Tuscan 2 also sees a return to the starter and stop buttons system seen on the Cerbera back at the Motor Show back in 1993 and much copied by other manufacturers since. The door and window controls are developed from those used in the flagship Typhon range. Machined from billet aluminium the switchgear is as elegant as it is easy to use.
The seats of the Tuscan have always featured removable squabs for additional lateral location but the seats have now been redesigned to make that level of lateral design permanent. As TVRs are all built to order, customers who prefer a higher seating position will be able to specify one as will those who wish for the extra two inches of legroom and headroom on top of the snugger seat arrangement.
It is well known that TVR takes safety extremely seriously and as part of this, the seatbelts have always locked earlier than on a conventional set-up, in order to get a little closer to a racing harness type application. Tuscan 2 features an altered set-up to keep this useful safety feature while making it easier to use the seatbelt when parked on a steep angle.
The design brief for the Tuscan was that it should be a car in which the roof should come off while having sufficient for two people and their luggage to go on holiday for a month, in safety, with creature comforts like air conditioning and power steering but without the car weighing much more than 1000kg.
No computers have been used in the styling of the car and TVR's team of stylists took two years sculpting the shape of this future classic. There are a number of advantages in designing a car in the manner that TVR does. Sculpting and developing the shape solely by hand is an inordinately time-consuming business. Just as one only truly appreciates the lines of a car when one washes it, so it is TVR's belief that one can only really get to grips with the design of a car over a long period of time. Furthermore, it is impossible to control a surface as subtly on a computer screen as when sculpting the car by hand. It is with this in mind that one should view the new Tuscan. When a vehicle is mass-produced the tooling takes longer to develop than the styling but that is categorically not the case here. The whole philosophy at TVR is that the shape of the car comes first so the constraints of conventional industry thinking have not been an issue. As such, the philosophy behind the styling of the car has been that function and form have been combined and the result has been left on show.
Many of the features that make this car extraordinary are there for sound engineering reasons but the simplicity and elegance of their form enhances the overall look of the car. For instance, the unusual bonnet arrangement, whereby the main piece of the bonnet is bolted into the car, is there for the reasons that it is in most racing cars. It is actually lightly stressed and means that one is able to duct the airflow very precisely. Furthermore, it is bolted into place and therefore can be manufactured lighter. One of the notable features of the car is the way that the shutlines run along the top of the car so that if you draw them, you draw the shape of the car. This shows its lines off to the best advantage but also gives a far bigger boot opening to make the roof much easier to stow in the boot.
While it might be possible to say that the exterior design of the car is relatively extravagant in concept, TVR has taken a minimalist approach to the interior. The very highest quality components have been used and once again, function has determined form. The curved aluminium top to the dash, for example, actually acts as one of the transverse strengthening beams for the car. The pedal box, again hand made from extremely high quality components, is left on show as it would be a shame to hide craftsmanship like it and it also serves to make individual fittings for customers that much easier.
The chassis is based on that of the Cerbera but in this case is 8" shorter. This means that it has improved interior room over the Griffith and Chimaera but as the overall thinking behind it, and indeed the dimensions, stem from the Tuscan Challenge racing car, the balance of the chassis between ride and handling is as well honed as ever. The other advantage of basing the chassis on that of TVR's one make race series car is that there is probably no chassis anywhere in the world that has been so often and so comprehensively crash tested. Safety has been uppermost in the designers thoughts throughout the process and the roll cage, door beams and transverse aluminium tube are evidence of that.
The brakes are 294mm at the front with superb four pot aluminium callipers and are 273mm at the rear. The Tuscan S is a development of the old red rose Tuscan but with a number of significant developments. At the forefront of these is a revision of the chassis geometry with different kingpin inclination and less bump steer to specifically set the car up for the 18” wheels which come as standard on this car. Spring and damper rates are also now stiffer than they were originally to complement the car’s new chassis and extra power. The brakes have also been enlarged to 322mm at the front and 298mm at the rear. They remain cross-drilled and ventilated all round and the callipers remain the same also.
The engine of the Tuscan S has been further developed to produce 400 bhp at 7000rpm and 310 ft.lbs of torque at 5250 rpm. The Tuscan S also features most of the Tuscan’s options list as standard. Among these are air conditioning, gas discharge main beam headlamps and a DAB stereo, which receives the latest digital radio broadcasts. It is the first production car to have one of these fitted as standard.
Sagaris The first two TVR Sagaris off the line are on display here at the Birmingham Show. Production is now ramping up and the first deliveries will be in July.
The Sagaris is an exciting step on from the T350 on which it is based. While motorsport was already uppermost in the designers’ minds with the T350, the styling of the Sagaris is a direct result of the rigorous demands of the endurance motorsport arena. Racing versions will compete in categories where modifications to the road car are limited so the road car carries its aerodynamic advantages as standard. Front splitter and rear diffuser are built into the bodywork and a great deal of attention has been paid to the use and venting of the high pressure air in the wheelarches. The ride height at which road cars have to run limits their aerodynamic efficiency but as the Sagaris has been designed to sit as low as TVR dares, the sophisticated aero package will help considerably. It has a 2” wider track than the T350 and sits 1” lower to reduce the effective height of the centre of gravity for even greater grip and stability and has spring rates some three times stiffer than that of the T350.
It is propelled by the mighty 400 bhp TVR Straight Six engine from the Tuscan S and has very big exhaust cans which exit laterally forward of the diffuser to reduce back pressure. Because of this an imaginative solution to a potential heat build up problem has had to be sought which can be seen just above the diffuser, which has changed since the car was first seen last December.
With an emphasis on lightweight composites inside, the Sagaris represents the latest in TVR’s thinking on the road racer theme. It is priced at £49,995 to match that of its Tuscan S stablemate.
Standard equipment includes a full leather interior, extremely lightweight and strong advanced composite bodywork. The intention is for race car and road car to be very similar and to be even quicker than the TVR Tuscan Challenge racers, which are themselves quite a bit quicker than British Touring Cars.
The first racer will be out testing later this year and at least half a dozen are expected to be competing in the Carlube TVR Challenge as well as the various National and International GT series for which they will be eligible in 2005.
The TVR Car Club