6

For anyone in the market for a lightweight special, but not tempted by any of the usual suspects, there is now the alternative choice of the Toniq CB.

Cornish-based Toniq is not entirely new, though, having previously launched the Toniq-R in 2003. Although there is a certain styling similarity between the R and this latest model, the difference is that while the R was based around a Caterham Seven chassis, the CB range uses a proprietary tubular design.

The engine is a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec, available in a range of power outputs from 180bhp to 250bhp. Caterham uses the same powerplant in its mid-range Sevens, making the CB200 tested here the equivalent of an R400. Meaning no shortage of performance; Toniq claims 0-60mph in 4.0sec.

That claim is believable, given the Toniq’s featherweight approach – there aren’t any doors – plus decent traction. A limited-slip differential is standard, although the sticky Yokohama A048 tyres fitted to our test car are optional.

From experience of other applications of the Duratec engine, 200bhp is also a good compromise between top-end power and mid-range flexibility; the CB200 is able to pull cleanly from low revs with little fuss while emitting a pleasantly old-school gurgle.

Not that changing gear is something to be avoided; the Mazda-sourced six-speed transmission is both light to use and satisfyingly precise. The clutch take-up on this particular example could be smoother, though, especially in first gear.

There is also room for improvement in terms of ride and handling – the set-up of this test car had too much understeer for track use and suffered from bump steer on a particularly choppy B-road – but Toniq has clearly developed a sound basis from which to start.

The steering has plenty of lock, with appropriate gearing and weight. The brakes have good pedal feel and bite. And for this type of car there is reasonable ride comfort, without sacrificing body control.

The chassis may not yet have the polish of either a Caterham or Ariel, but in terms of the basic fundamentals Toniq is already ahead of some more established competitors.

Going forward, the priority for Toniq has to be to refine the chassis and improve on the surrounding components, as the fit and finish is currently not up to standard (it may have a hi-tech digital dash, but no accurate or easy-to-decipher fuel gauge).

Some of which could be forgiven if the Toniq offered a price advantage, but with the CB starting at £33,000 and this model costing £34,200, the Toniq is no less expensive than the equivalent Caterham. Which is brave, to put it kindly.

Jamie Corstorphine

Toniq CB200

Price £34,200; Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, petrol; Power 200bhp; Torque NA; 0-62mph 4.0sec (est); Top speed NA; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 500kg (est); Economy NA; CO2 NA

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