Words by Naz Faquir & Photography by Dan Pluck
As any TVR owner will tell you, the driving experience starts with figuring out how to open the doors. The Sagaris has a button under the wing mirror, which releases the door catch. Once inside, it’s a bit more conventional in that you have a key to start the Speed Six engine. With the key in the ‘on’ position, the dashboard comes to life and goes through a Star Trek Starship Enterprise procedure – the speedo and rev counter needles swing all the way round and a sequence of checks and lights are initiated before you finally turn the key fully to bring the angry straight six into life. This drama sets you up for the excitement on offer once you get moving.
I’ve loved the noise and shape of TVRs ever since the Cerbera came out.
I remember going across to TVR in Barnet almost every summer and having a test drive. Despite being smitten by the whole experience, I was never brave enough to test the online rumours of comical reliability. I eventually decided to take the plunge by buying a Tuscan S Mk 1. However, after seeing the extreme looking Sagaris, I knew I wanted one and went on my search to find a Sagaris in a colour I liked. I’ve owned mine for around seven years now and being a bit of a car collector I don’t get to do too many miles in it. I’d say I probably cover around 500 miles a year on average in the Sagaris. Mine is a 2006 Spectraflair Silver car, I’m the second owner and it’s completely standard. I was lucky enough to find a colour and factory specification I liked first time round. I bought it from a guy in Wales, as luck would have it he wanted a Tuscan (like mine) and I wanted his Sagaris! We eventually met somewhere off the M4 and after carrying out the necessary checks and inspections, we both drove our separate ways.
Don’t they say a picture paints a thousand words? You just need to look at the Sagaris to know what it feels like.
When the sun is shining, it is the most amazing iridescent colour to adorn a car. Almost like a hologram, which suits it’s futuristic shape to a tee. It always brings a smile to my and other peoples’ faces.
The engine is clattery at low revs when it is cold, and there is a distinct rasp when the throttle is blipped. Once properly on the move the Sagaris feels race car raw yet controlled at the same time. The steering is ultra-quick compared to most other road cars and the accelerator, whilst having a long travel, is razor sharp. There is no slack in the primary controls, the car feels ‘alive’ and an intimate driving experience. It could probably do with a bit more suspension damping for rougher surfaces, but it would detract from the rawness that makes it so special. The sound is as unfiltered as the controls, the Sagaris has an angry rasp at the top end of the rev range, with the obligatory TVR pops and bangs on overrun. How the Sagaris performs very much depends on the quality of the road. It’s a very composed performer on a smooth road, but can become a very physical experience on a bumpier B-road, on which it requires total concentration. It’s always a very involving and absorbing experience.
The feedback from the car is very good, and despite there being no electronic safety net; no traction control, no ABS and no air bags – all the stories of TVRs being a hedge finder are just not true in my experience. It is very transparent in letting the driver know what’s going on. And whilst you can get the rear end sliding relatively easily, it is a controlled and benign car once it is sliding. The transparency, long throttle travel and quick steering all help to make most slides catchable with half a turn of opposite lock. I’d go as far as to say that it is one of the most docile rear wheel drive cars around.
I’d challenge anyone driving a modern rear wheel drive car to turn off all the electronics and attempt to replicate what the Sagaris can do whilst at a slip angle.
The exterior is just a work of art and it’s hard to find an angle which doesn’t look good, but I’d say the deep and detailed front splitter and the slashes on the front wings are probably the stand out details. The interior is relatively conservative by TVR standards, but the machined alloy control switches are simply beautiful. It is an absolute privilege to own a Sagaris, I’ve had a blast with it, every drive is exciting and invigorating. There are not many left in the UK and to own the last model of a car from what was a very cutting edge marque feels special. With modern regulations on efficiency and safety, it’s unlikely that we’ll see another car like the Sagaris.
I have considered selling the Sagaris over the last year or so. I got chatting about it to a friend of mine who lives a couple of hundred miles away in York and he said he might be interested. We discussed the price and he said he’d come down to see it one weekend. The weekend duly arrived and I went to get the car out of the garage, I took one look at it and thought to myself, why are you even contemplating a sale! I took it for a drive before Spencer arrived, and unfortunately for him, my mind was made up, it was going nowhere. The Sagaris would be such a hard car to replace for it’s looks and driving experience. You can imagine the making up I had to do when he arrived at my house!
Don’t believe the internet horror stories about Sagaris reliability. The only items I have had to replace, other than the usual servicing, is a clutch, I bought it knowing that needed doing. They do have an appetite for breaking accelerator cables, which can be a bit scary if you’re left coasting on a fast road. I’ve always used TVR Castle, now Hilton and Moss for the Sagaris.
At one point I had a Cerbera, Tuscan S Mk1 and Tuscan Mk2 at the same time. I sold the two Tuscans to James Agger, who I have to say was a delight to deal with. I will always keep the Cerbera, it’s not as “refined” or developed as the Sagaris, but it is one of the best drivers’ cars out there, notwithstanding its age. It looks like the Sagaris is becoming quite a sought-after car, but having said that it is difficult to make an informed assessment in the current inflated car market. Supply and demand should mean it at least retains its current value of over £50,000 for the foreseeable future.