1999 TVR Cerbera 4.5 4.5 V8 petrol
The British sports car industry has still got what it takes
Clutch release bearing started to break up necessitating complete replacement clutch at just 13,000 miles. Replacement seems to be OK 13k later, so hopefully just a fluke.
A couple of electrical gremlins have come and gone since I bought the car - instruments sometimes erratic, dash illumination doesn't always work. Probably a dodgy earth somewhere.
Intermittent misfire started around 17,000 miles. Poor cold starting and even worse fuel consumption. Coolant temperature sensor was replaced which cured the fault.
Clonking from rear under hard acceleration at 20,000 miles. Traced to a couple of worn bushes.
Ballistic performance. You have to experience the 4.5 Cerbera to totally get your head around it. Cracks 60 mph in around 3.8 seconds and on to 190 mph flat out. Joins the wonderful world of sportsbikes (which I'm also partial to) in that on 90% of roads, it's skill, balls and traffic that determines how fast you go, not the available performance. Excluding motorways and the odd deserted dual carriageway, I think I've run out of throttle travel only in the higher gears and on a handful of occasions. It's brutal.
Sounds effects are drool inducing both in quantity and quality - well, it is a TVR after all. Not the same deep burble as the old Rover based V8 but a sharp, angry bark which is just as good for the smiling muscles. 15 mpg, but as it's not an everyday car and it's so unbelievably and searingly quick, I don't really care.
Lots of silly faults although to be fair, the car has never let me down. Much of it is down to poor or inadequate component quality rather than build quality, which in some ways is more serious. Clutch and suspension bush replacement before 20,000 miles shouldn't ever occur on a modern car, especially one which has only been on a track once in its entire life (I knew the previous owner). That said, nothing else on four wheels gives this kind of performance for this price. In fact, very little does at any price.
Handling has been a pleasant surprise. Much is made of the viciousness and tail-happiness of TVR's, but to be honest, as long as you accept it has 420 bhp and 380 lb/ft of torque, is rear drive and has no driver aids, it's fine. Of course it doesn't take much to provoke it into a lairy powerslide if the mood takes you, but after a bit of familiarisation, I don't ever have it happen by accident. In the wet it can be trickier, but the throttle action is well modulated and the reserves of grip surprisingly high. The steering is also beautifully accurate should it be needed to catch a wayward rear end.
I love the Cerbera. It's beautiful, searingly fast, hugely entertaining, and what's more it's 100% British. It's also stonking value for money, but you need to accept that when TVR decided not to cut costs in performance or dynamic ability, they had to do it somewhere, and so the odd component failure or obscure electrical fault isn't going to be a rarity. That said basic reliability, and assembly quality have been very good and a most welcome surprise.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 26th May, 2004
12th Aug 2005, 22:31
Thankyou very helpfull.
21st Oct 2005, 08:21
Well writtten review, good example for the rest.
27th Jan 2006, 05:49
Very helpful, thanks.
Considering a 4.5l now.
1st Feb 2006, 08:34
Great review. This has now confirmed that I need to buy one of these.
Have owned a Fiat Coupe 20VT, very fast for the money, I know it's a Fiat, but you have to start somewhere and I didn't have any problems with it.
However, the Cerbera 4.5 is the car I've always wanted when I could afford it, so I'm going to start looking.
3rd Dec 2008, 15:52
A good review of this car, I have owned a Cerbera for 18 months and have covered 28K in it. I can never leave it at home!
It has had a few minor niggles but has been on the whole reliable. I did have to have a clutch when I brought the car, but believe new clutches have been improved - mine's lasted 28K and counting.
I still grin like a small child every time I get in! If you buy one of these you must do a track day, you'll never know what these cars can really do if you don't.
Choosing the right tyres is vital with TVR because of the light weight, some sports tyres just don't work on them, speak to a TVR dealer before buying.
5th Aug 2013, 04:50
Thank you for a concise, honest and extremely well written review!