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Wednesday 19th September 2012


TUSHEK RENOVATIO T500

Slovenia joins the supercar race


So, what'll be the first comment below? I’m guessing it will be "how much again?" You’d be right, of course; I certainly couldn’t take a €300,000 (£240,110) punt on a car from a company that until very recently I’d never heard of. That’s as much down to my fiscal situation as my desire to punt, but then I’ve not got a garage full of exotica or lots of zeros on my bank balance.

Kit car origins show in wedgy profile
Kit car origins show in wedgy profile
Many of the people here at Salon Privé do. The Tushek Renovatio T500 is parked up in the grounds of Syon House among supercar royalty (alongside a McLaren F1) where it’s being pored over by a throng of car-mad, often red-trousered millionaires fuelled by bottomless champagne glasses and plenty of lobster. I may be out of place here, but the Tushek isn't: it's courting the right big-pocketed audience.

It’s a fussy looking thing. Blame its Attack K1 kit car origins (though I rather like the suspension pushing out of the front carbon fibre panel). The wedgy, edgy lines are straight from the inside cover of a schoolboy’s jotter - if, indeed, they still use such things. It's an old-school supercar then, created by Alojoša Tušek, a Slovenian ex-racer who got tired of the on-track softness and inaccuracy of supercars. So, doing what we would all do with a contacts book containing carbon fibre manufacturers and racing people, Tušek decided he could do better.

Aircon is about it in terms of features
Aircon is about it in terms of features
He started with that Attack kit, though quickly found it lacking. Keeping elements of its spaceframe chassis, Alojoša binned the V6 engine and popped in a 4.2-litre V8 from Audi's B7 RS4. To say that’s all he’s done would be to sell his efforts short. It’s longer and wider now, but in bald terms the Renovatio T500 is a 1133kg machine with a mid-mounted 450hp V8 driving the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Carbon ceramic brakes save about 19kg over conventional discs, though Alojoša admits they work better on the track than on the road.

That’s kind of the point. Tušek wants his car to be driven. Hard, and on track. The purchase price includes two years of trackday support, based on five events each year. This car, the third produced so far (the other two having been sold) has undertaken over 27,000 miles of testing - most of it on track - to ensure it’s up to the task. The hubs and the suspension are man enough for slicks, though even on Conti Force Contact road tyres there’s no shortage of grip. It’s the lateral G figure of 1.7 that Alojoša gets most excited about. The 3.7-second 0-62mph time is largely academic to him, likewise the 192mph top speed.

450hp Audi 4.2 V8 drives rear wheels
450hp Audi 4.2 V8 drives rear wheels
For Alojoša it’s all about the track, which isn’t something we’ve got to hand as we leave Syon House in heavy traffic. For just the third car built (Tušek still refers to it as a prototype), it’s nicely finished inside. The pedals are adjustable by 15cm should you need more reach or be short of leg, and the fully-customisable seats are fitted with racing harnesses. There’s an Alpine head unit with satnav, air conditioning - and that’s about it. The instrumentation is from AIM PISTA, supplemented by three dials on top of the dash. Refreshingly there are also three pedals and a gearstick, Alojoša grinning when I point to it and thank him for not taking the paddle-shift route. Actually, there is a paddle-shifted option, via a Hewland sequential gearbox, but Tušek concedes that’s a little bit too extreme for the road.

Carbon brakes work best on track
Carbon brakes work best on track
Not that the manual isn’t an effort. If you’re buying the Tushek to look different on the Kings Road, then go do some legwork at the gym first. The clutch is heavy. That’s fine when you’re on the move and on and off it quickly, but a pain, literally, in traffic. The six-speed manual transmission shifts cleanly and accurately though, and there’s never any question of pace with the 450hp and 428Nm propelling the T500’s low bulk. It’s lighter than a Lotus Exige S, has around 100hp more, and absolutely no traction or stability aids to help you if you get it wrong.

Not that it’s lacking in grip. The 305/30 R19 rear tyres are barely troubled by the engine’s output. It feels properly quick too, the feeling enhanced significantly by the niggling thought that it’s you and you alone who has to sort it out should you get it wrong. Not that the T500 is a seat-chewing, monster of a car. In fact, it proves to be quite the contrary. There's a sophistication to the drive that belies - or comes entirely courtesy of - its simplicity.

Grippy: up to 1.7 lateral G
Grippy: up to 1.7 lateral G
There’s double wishbone suspension all round, which can be adjusted to suit your needs. Here, it’s set up for track work. So it’s understandably taut, yet there’s suppleness in the way it copes with the horrors that pass for UK roads. That obviously improves with speed, the rougher edges taken off the ride when the pace increases.

Those brakes? They’re okay. Obviously they’d work a bit better with some heat in them, but they’re not the stab, hope then grab you get with some carbon setups. The electrically-assisted hydraulic steering delivers speed and accuracy, backed up by fine weighting and decent feel. It’s not dissimilar to the Lotus Exige S in feel, and works better at low speed than the Hethel machine.

The engine sounds glorious too, especially when it’s routed through the higher-mounted pipes of the racing exhaust option. Choose that and the T500 loses the compartment to stow the jigsaw puzzle-like roof, but your ears will tell you it's worth the sacrifice.

Scissor doors ideal for SW7
Scissor doors ideal for SW7
Whether your bank balance will is another matter. Looked at rationally, the Tushek struggles to justify its lofty price tag. You could have a couple of Audi R8s and change for the cost of one of these. That’s not really the point though: in this playground, being different is enough to appeal, regardless of the sticker price. That’s perhaps understandable given the tiny anticipated production numbers, but it does mean only a handful of people will ever get to drive a Tushek Renovatio T500. And that’s a shame, as it’s really rather good.

Author: Kyle Fortune