Great those Club AX events are so much fun:clap:We are still planning on doing exactly that.
I don't mindFor now, the new car will be my Lotus of sorts and I hope nobody minds me not having a real Lotus.
I will bring it (assuming it is here by then:wallbang it will be fun :shift:It will be cool to see the 2-Eleven and this car in the same place...not to suggest the cars are comparable, but they serve a similar purpose.
Two young car designers have turned their final-year project into a business reality
The ‘Toniq-R’ is the fruit of four Huddersfield University students’ final-year labours.
In 2002, the Transport Design students exhibited their concept car at the University’s 3D end-of-year design show. Three years later, the production car has now been officially launched at the recent National Kit and Performance Car Show at Donington Park.
Initially, students Colin Williams, Will Baxter, Angus Fitton and Paul Phillpot intended the Toniq-R as a static design study - but things have moved on apace. While Paul took up postgraduate employment designing computer game characters and Angus walked into CAR magazine as their staff writer, Colin and Will decided that the Toniq-R’s petrol tank had leaked enough fuel into their veins to keep them running for a few more years.
During the concept stage at the University, the four were able to develop their project thanks to numerous companies that recognised the task that lay ahead of the team.
Jaguar provided the team with a number of parts and allowed two members of its advanced design department – Julian Thompson and Stuart Norris – to provide styling tips. Manchester firm HMG supplied free paint for the prototype and Aspley Autoparts of Huddersfield – part of the A1 Motorstores chain – donated wheels and accessories worth £1,500. And when it came to logistics, the RAC stepped in.
“We can’t thank people enough for their kind help,” said Colin. “The team was at a real low about finances, but then we spoke to Aspley Autoparts about our project. They decided on the spot to give us some brochures and pay for any set of wheels and tyres we wanted – we were all gobsmacked by their goodwill!”
Following on from the University foundation, Colin and Will took the car off to the London New Designers exhibition, the Birmingham NEC International Motorshow and the Donington Kit & Performance car show.
After shifting through offers from a number of production partners, the pair opted to produce the car in partnership with kit/race-car manufacturer Stuart Taylor Motorsport in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, which is now taking orders. The car will soon be available in kit form from £4,000 or ready to run for £16,995.
The launch model features a 900cc, 125bhp Honda FireBlade engine but a 1,000cc Suzuki GSXR-powered alternative will be available this summer for about £23,000, which is rated at 150bhp – more than 400 per ton. For now, though, customers will have to be satisfied with doing 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds en route to a top speed of more than 120mph.
“Interest has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Ian Gray at Stuart Taylor’s. “There are lots of companies building things that look like the original Lotus Seven, but this is refreshingly different.
“Take a look at many other kit cars and you’ll notice they’ve all been designed by men in their forties. The Toniq is fresher and promotes the spirit of the Seven in a much more modern way. It is genuinely a car for the 21st century.”
Colin Williams, who has spent time with TVR’s design department, and Will Baxter, who has previously worked at Caterham’s, are fanatical about their product. And rightly they should be, as they are the first-ever students, globally, from any university to have taken their car design through to production.
Will became obsessed with cars from a young age, after being given a Ferrari F40 model for his 10th birthday: “From that moment, I have always wanted to run the Ferrari design team and to drive a Ferrari F40,” said Will. “It has taken a lot of work and tears to get this far with the Toniq-R, but it feels as though we’re going in the right direction.”
Further details can be found by visiting the teams web-site http://www.toniqr.co.uk or by contacting Ian Gray at Stuart Taylor Motorsport on 0115 944 7644.
It's a Fireblade-engined Caterham alternative
Text: Jethro Bovingdon / Photos: Andy Morgan
Part hotrod, part spaceship, the Toniq-R is definitely a Marmite car. Personally, I think it looks terrific, a really bold take on a classic formula
It's one of the eternal motoring conundrums. Just how do you build a Seven for the 21st century? Ariel has gone the extreme no roof, no doors, no body route, stuck the engine in the rear and tried to match mechanical grip to engine power. Meanwhile Radical offers big downforce, raw speed and race-car agility thanks to lightweight motorbike engines and miniature Le Mans styling. And Caterham? Well it just keeps on building faster and faster Sevens, and for many there’s still nothing to touch them…
However, sometimes you just want to be different. Which is where the Toniq-R comes in. Like a Caterham it has a simple front-engine, rear-drive layout, but where the Seven is proudly retro, the Toniq-R looks like something straight out of science fiction. Part hotrod, part spaceship, the Toniq-R is definitely a Marmite car. Personally, I think it looks terrific, a really bold take on a classic formula.
It started life as a student project at the University of Huddersfield, and its unique aesthetics attracted plenty of publicity. In fact, so positive was the reception from press and public alike that the father of one of the students decided to put up some money and turn student fantasy into a trackday driver’s reality. The Toniq-R is now production- ready and being assembled in Suffolk.
Underneath the smoothly sculpted fibreglass body of this development car there’s a box-section chassis taken from a Stuart Taylor Motorsport Seven-alike, although customer cars will have a unique tubular steel affair. The Toniq-R comes with two engine options. For featherweight fetishists there’s a Honda Fireblade unit, while for those who like a more torque-rich delivery, Toniq offers a Ford Duratec motor tuned to 203bhp. Impressively, a fully built Toniq-R Fireblade costs from £19,969. The Duratec-engined car comes in at £23,494.
Those Caterham-worrying prices clearly aren’t at the expense of quality. The Toniq-R looks fabulously finished when you’re up close and personal with it. Having no doors and the panel gaps that go with them helps, but the smooth flanks and deep paint finish look excellent, and the stylish body-coloured dash is superbly executed.
This development car is a Fireblade model, putting out 131bhp at 9800rpm; production models will use a later engine offering 154bhp at a stratospheric 11,250rpm. Gearshifts are snapped through with the press of a button on the steering wheel (green for upshifts, red for down); no need to lift the throttle.
It’s best to take off the quick-release wheel as you clamber over the Toniq’s bodywork and slide into the thin, unpadded seat. Click the wheel back on to the steering column and you’re in the perfect position, steering wheel closer than in a Caterham and with more clearance behind it to avoid any messy knuckle/dash interface, pedals dead ahead and nicely spaced for heel-and-toeing.
Flick up the ignition switch cover and click the toggle up to get the fuel pump buzzing, then depress the starter button and the 919cc in-line four fires with a digital fizz, minute oscillations buzzing through the seat and harnesses.
A firm prod of the red downshift button selects first with a purposeful clunk. The clutch is easy to modulate (unlike in many other bike-engined cars) and the 460kg Toniq-R rolls away without flaring revs. Hit the green upshift button and second slots home cleanly. Even on a jagged concrete surface the ride feels supple, relaxed.
First impressions are terrific. The gearbox is blindingly effective. The steering is quick, accurate and full of feel in the way that only a non-assisted set-up in a lightweight car can be. There’s strong mechanical grip with a shade too much understeer as you start to broach the limits of the Yokohama A048s, but keep the hyperactive four-pot above 8500rpm and you can easily turn speed-sapping understeer into benign, inertia-free oversteer.
Criticisms are few. The brakes feel a bit soggy initially but are actually wonderfully easy to modulate. I’d like a little less of that understeer and perhaps even tighter body control (there’s too much dive under braking and body roll for such a light car). Oh, and a display showing which gear you’re in is a must (this is on its way, apparently). Other than that, the Toniq-R feels very well sorted indeed.
No doubt the Duratec-engined Toniq will be a more usable road car, and more of a challenge in terms of chassis tuning. It’ll be interesting to see if this Toniq-R’s sweet balance can be maintained with more weight up front and more torque turning the rear wheels. However, on the evidence of this Fireblade version, the guys from Toniq know exactly what they’re doing. Expect to see one beamed in to a trackday near you very soon.
Car Reviews, evo Car Reviews: Toniq-R Duratec
Quality, details, benign chassis
Balance needs fine-tuning
Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 919cc, 16v
Max power: 131bhp @ 9800rpm
Max torque: n/a
0 - 60mph: 3.9 sec (claimed)
Top Speed: 126mph (claimed)
On sale: Now
2-litre Ford power for Caterham alternative
Text: Jethro Bovingdon / Photos: Kenny P
One of the surprise packages of 2006 was the Toniq-R, a student project turned seriously convincing Caterham alternative. The first Toniq we tried was fitted with the flyweight Honda Fireblade engine, and its sweetly balanced chassis obviously benefited from the lack of weight sitting over the front wheels. However, the appeal of bike-engined cars is always very limited and this, the Ford Duratec-engined version, is the car that will sell in bigger numbers and perhaps be a truer indicator of Toniq’s ability to set up a trackday car.
Fully built, this 193bhp, 174lb ft Toniq costs £23,500. Great value when you consider how quickly the price of a similarly powerful Seven can escalate (our old R300 long-termer was nudging £30,000). But when you buy a Caterham you know you’re getting a truly outstanding drivers’ car. Does the Toniq-R really compare?
Well, it certainly feels at least as well built and the interior treatment is very nicely detailed. The driving position is spot-on, too. The engine feels crisp and urgent, if lacking the fireworks of a CSR or the snappy response of a K-series Caterham; the gearshift is short, meaty and precise. Only a slight dead patch at the top of the brake pedal’s travel seems at odds with the focus and precision of the rest of the controls.
The chassis, at least on Silverstone’s smooth surface, feels excellent. The steering is as quick as you’d hope, there’s loads of grip and ample traction from the Yokohama A048 rubber and the balance is nicely neutral. As speeds increase it doesn’t feel quite as pin-sharp, as communicative or as agile as a well sorted Caterham, but it’s as close as I’ve experienced from a Seven–alike. There’s just a shade too much turn-in and mid-corner understeer at present, but I’m sure with time it’ll get even better. Definitely worth a look.
Car Reviews, evo Car Reviews: Toniq-R
Chassis shows huge promise
No roof, no screen
Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1999cc, 16v
Max power: 193bhp @ 6500rpm
Max torque: 174lb ft @ 4500rpm
0 - 60mph: 4.5sec (est)
Top Speed: 140mph (est)
On sale: Now