It’s Slovenia’s first supercar, or, in other words, the Tushek Renovatio T500. It’s from a brand new company, it is not a totally ground-up design, yet costs, wait for it (drum roll), €300,000.
Quite a lot, yes? Yes. But give it a chance.
A spot of history. Actually, a lot of history, because too little might not be helpful. Aljosa Tušek used to race cars (euro tin tops) and when he stopped, he decided for a living he’d assemble and sell high-spec variants of a car (available in component form) called the K1 Attack.
So he bought one and set about it, before realising that, although he liked the look of it, the engine was too lazy and tall (a Ford V6 with the gearbox beneath it) and the (glassfibre) body was too heavy and imprecisely moulded.
Truth is, it wasn't the car he wanted to make. So, now, although it retains a tubular spaceframe chassis, more than 80 percent of it is different to the K1. It’s a lot longer, a bit wider and lower. Power comes from a 4.2-litre Audi RS4 motor and drives the rear wheels via an S5’s 6-spd manual gearbox. The body is carbonfibre.
Slovenia doesn’t have a rich heritage in supercar manufacture, it’s true: but Ferrari’s composite body panels are made here, as are Ducati panels and Porsche’s ceramic brakes, while it’s home to Akrapovic exhausts.
So there are experts in carbonfibre, ceramic composites and titanium. Tušek works with them all. The Renovatio makes a modest (by supercar standards) 444bhp, but here's the thing: dry, it weighs only 1090kg. Tušek thinks most supercars aren’t particularly suited to track use because they're too heavy. I'm inclined to agree. And the Renovatio is pitched at the track-oriented end of the scale, which makes it additionally unusual in supercar circles.
Anything else unusual? Yes. A refreshing lack of over-ambition on the part of the people who build it. They're modest; the claimed top speed starts with a one; the 0-62mph time is a believable (if it gets there in first gear) 3.7sec. Tušek isn’t exactly out to shake-up the establishment, either. He only plans to build 30 (a successor is already on paper, looks good, and would satisfy his output for the next ten years), and is pleasingly open about progress so far: two early prototypes were made and sold.
This is the third (it isn’t for sale) and, as I write, there are another two paid-up orders. Tušek wants to make another five this year. Those cars will get an R8 rather than RS4 motor because it’s dry sumped, while there’s also a stylish coupe roof option. It takes a couple of minutes to manually remove the roof you see in some of these pictures. It’s a less slick operation than in all of its rivals, but the thinking is that the weight saving is worth it.
The Renovatio could be one of those cars that’s easy to dismiss. But sometimes there are exceptions, and I’m inclined to think and hope that this is one of them.
It’s the details, as much as anything. The quality of the body mouldings is excellent. The interior is sweetly finished, which is all too often a rarity among start-ups who let people see, feel and touch cars before they’re ready. Tushek has even made its own windscreen wiper assembly. It gives you a good feeling about quality of the engineering.
The hardware is pretty straightforward. There’s no bluff and no nonsense. Double wishbones all round with inboard dampers at the front, the engine in the middle, slight rearward weight distribution, hydraulically assisted power steering and servo assisted (but non-ABS) carbon-ceramic brakes.
The driving position is a bit off, for me: the seat is too short in the squab and set too high, too. “No problem,” say the Tushek lads. “Customers can be seated how they like.” That’s the key to making these cars work, I think, by offering a level of bespoke tailoring that the accepted supercar establishment can’t match. There is a list of options as long as your arm. Telemetry and a sequential Hewland race gearbox (which will shave another 30kg or so) are among them.
My first taste of the Renovatio comes on the road, where it shows itself to ride very firmly, but not harshly. The dampers can be slackened if you want.
It also has a pretty raw drivetrain, but in a good way. With fluids this is still only an 1133kg car, so it gets along pretty nicely. Makes a good noise, too, and, because of a lack of sound proofing, a very audible one. There’s quite a lot of heat soak, perhaps inevitably. But it feels very honest.
We take it to an airfield where a small circuit has been set up and where we’re encouraged to give it the lot. Frankly, it’d be rude not to. Wound round towards the 7900rpm power peak the T500 feels about as quick, to me, as a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. I don’t ever remember thinking one of those needed more power.
What the Lamborghini could sometimes use, and what the Tushek offers, is increased agility. The Renovatio gets hydraulically assisted steering of middling weight and fine accuracy and speed. There’s less hyperactivity than in a Ferrari 458 Italia, albeit a touch less oily slickness than I think you’d find in a Noble M600 or a McLaren MP4-12C. All told, it’s an honest rack, with plenty of feel, and a weight that reflects the amount of effort going through the front tyres.
Its tyres are of a particularly high performing compound, incidentally, and they hang on gamely. There’s a bit of body movement under braking and cornering, but body control is always very tight.
Then, on a steady throttle, a touch of understeer is telegraphed superbly through the rim. Lift and the nose will drop back into line. Lift and wait and the rear might get a touch involved. Lift on the way into a corner, or trail the brakes in (allowed by superb pedal feel) and the back will engage even more willingly.
From that point on, the Renovatio displays a superb balance. There’s enough power to kick the rear wide and hold out a slide, and it’s more predictable and approachable than most cars with their engine amidships.
No mistake, there’s a thoroughly sorted chassis underneath the T500. I’d be happy to lap one on a track for hour after hour. That it’s relatively light, that its brakes resist fade seemingly interminably, mean that it has a track demeanour more like a GT Porsche or the latest Lotus Exige S than a traditional supercar.
I’m not sure I understand supercar buyers. As I understand it, most buyers of modern ultra-exotics already have garages filled with modern ultra-exotics, and many of these cars seem to do the same thing.
So from where I’m standing, it looks like the Renovatio offers something truly unusual in the class: it’s a track-biased supercar whose consumables should wear out or overheat less quickly than an alternative that’s carrying a few hundred extra kilos. And I think I buy into that idea.
No, it’s not going get the Italian establishment looking over their shoulders, but it isn’t meant to. It’s novel, it’s interesting. It seems nicely put together. The people who make it are sensible, modest and intelligent. Me? I’d tick the 'Hewland gearbox' option and indulge myself.