Autocar - - Group Test - RICHARD LANE

If you’re ac­cus­tomed only to ‘sani­tised’ modern sports cars, I think it’s im­pos­si­ble not to be blown away by the Grif­fith. Com­pared with some­thing like a Porsche Boxster, so in­tense are the ini­tial sen­sa­tions that there’s al­most a slight malev­o­lence about the whole thing. As there should be. You rat­tle the key down the bar­rel, de­press a re­as­sur­ingly weighty clutch and then the cabin — which is a bit claus­tro­pho­bic ow­ing to TVR’S quirky to­pog­ra­phy — sim­ply res­onates with sound. Af­ter that, the mere act of nurs­ing the car into mo­tion is ac­com­pa­nied with an an­tic­i­pa­tion you don’t get in the new stuff. Cer­tainly not un­less you’re talking about a Cater­ham Seven (which is es­sen­tially an­cient any­way) or the very top end of the per­for­mance car mar­ket.

Two things stand out on the move and those are the unas­sisted steering, which is to­tally lank off-cen­tre but quickly finds heft and with it un­usual feel, and the at­mo­spheric en­gine, which in terms of its bel­low­ing fe­roc­ity seems to dis­cover an­other gear shortly be­fore such a thing is ac­tu­ally re­quired. Both are won­der­ful and, sadly, anath­ema to new-timers with com­pa­ra­ble per­for­mance, though so is the lan­guid body con­trol. I didn’t spend long enough with the TVR to start prob­ing its limit-han­dling, but the un­der­cur­rent was that this spec­tac­u­larly over-pow­ered car would prove a chal­lenge to gather up should it let go at the rear. To an ex­tent, I like that, but I also ap­pre­ci­ate the lib­er­ties a well-cal­i­brated con­tem­po­rary sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem per­mits us to take in a range of road con­di­tions. One should be com­fort­able ex­ploit­ing a per­for­mance car and yet the priv­i­lege of do­ing so is earned with ex­pe­ri­ence and prac­tice. There’s a sweet spot some­where but the de­bate cer­tainly isn’t as sim­ple as old-school and hairychested equals best.

I can’t deny the 1994 boys their misty-eyed sup­po­si­tion, though. The va­ri­ety in han­dling dy­nam­ics and pow­er­trains way back then seems ex­tra­or­di­nary com­pared with the cars of to­day, and there’s so much ex­plor­ing to be done at prac­ti­cal speeds. I’d do ter­ri­ble things to get my hands on that Porsche (over­leaf).

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