Another interesting combo in this week’s second MotoringFile reader review. Mark Hendrie puts his JCW Cooper S against his TVR T350 and Nissan 350zx. I think this effectively trumps my M3 vs the MCS review from a few years back! You can read Mark’s entire review below:
Mini Cooper S Works v TVR T350 v Nissan 350Z (Fairlady)
Whilst it may at first appear odd putting these three cars head to head against each other when you take a closer look it becomes apparent just how much they actually all have in common. For example they all represent good value for money in the performance stakes, they are all very focused drivers cars and they are all impractical in numerous ways.
I will start with the TVR which costs a staggering Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£40,000 and looks like nothing else on the market. The TVR is without a doubt the most focused car out of this group and packs a massive 350 bhp from its highly tuned straight six engine which will run to 60 mph in 4 seconds. When you see the TVR for the first time it is hard to take in all the bespoke design features which are common to TVR – the car is just so cool to look at from the outside. Sliding into the drivers seat compunds the experience that this is no ordinary car as the dash and seats scream “I am a race car”. Turning on the ignition is the best part however as the engine coughs to a loud rumble – people will hear you coming in this car from three blocks away and it is without doubt the best feature of the TVR. I have to confess that I was absolutely petrified driving this car around the narrow streets of Edinburgh and going into every roundabout you cannot help but remain slightly edgy. You have the overwhelming sense that if you lost this car everything would be over. Despite this if you enjoy turning heads the TVR is the best out of this little group as the looks and noise get peoples necks snapping as you drive past. TVR has recently been purchased by a wealthy Russian millionaire who is determine to improve TVR’s largest flaw which is reliability. The TVR I had was definately much better than the Cerbera my old man owned but we are still not talking Nissan/Mini standards yet. Furthermore insurance, servicing and other running costs were a bit crippiling and detract from the overall appeal of TVR.
The TVR takes us neatly to the Z because I can’t help but feel that the Z is just like a junior TVR as once again everything is heavy to operate inside and the engine noise is immense. I had an aftermarket exhaust put on my Z and whilst it was not quite up to TVR noise levels you still loved to rev the engine! It is harder to find flaws with the Z as it looks great inside and out, is superbly made and drives like a dream. Furthermore the Z costs a good Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£15,000 less than the TVR and the running costs are also significantly lower. The only thing that dissapointed me in relation to the Z was the seats which seemed to look worn really quickly. Against the TVR I would take the Z as you can get relaxed when you are driving it and that was something that I never felt with the TVR, although the TVR was an experience every time you started it up. In the Z the power is also more easy to use because you are not as scared to put the foot down.
This website has provided many excellent reviews of the JCW so I will not go into to much detail about the car itself other than to note that it is only Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£18,000 which is a good Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£22,000 cheaper than the TVR. I loved my JCW as it was just so easy to drive fast with confidence – you can dart through the traffic with ease and take roundabouts at ridiculous speeds which would sent the TVR and Z spinning about the place! Whilst the TVR made me grin when I reved her up the Mini always had me grinning as I wheel spun away from the lights leaving Boxters for dust! The Mini for me just wants to be thrashed and then thrashed some more – I loved it. Furthermore the Mini is just so cheap to run and when I sold her she had hardly depreciated as opposed to my TVR which dropped Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£6,000 after just 4,000 miles. I suppose what the Mini does lack over the other two is that in Britain they are everywhere whereas in the Z and TVR people are always genuinely surprised to see one blast down the street!
Sum-up: – in the perfect world I would have the TVR for a Sunday and the Mini for the rest of the week. In the real world the Z is a perfect all-rounder as it remains brash and driveable at the same time and at least in the UK remains relatively exclusive. All the cars are excellent and budgets will dictate – should you find yourself with Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£40,000 to spend be brave and own a TVR for a short while and it is an experience you will never forget.