Review by: Greg:
The V6 version of the GTM Libra was developed at the request
of serial GTM owner Greg Stark, who had been invited in 1998
to the factory to see the prototype 4-cylinder
K-series-powered car. The engine bay proved just big enough
(with modifications to the GRP monocoque and body mouldings)
to accommodate Rover's 2.5 litre all-alloy KV6 engine. This
first V6-powered car was completed and first registered in November
2000. I still own the car, and it has covered in excess of 80,000
miles and has proved to be a remarkably reliable and enjoyable
There are highly tuned 4-cylinder
Libras just about capable of keeping up with the V6 on a race-track,
but for everyday motoring the torque of the V6 makes it an effortlessly
fast car - overtaking often does not require changing down a
gear, just a solid shove on the throttle pedal. Perhaps the
best part of driving the car is the wonderful engine noise -
naturally a V6 is smoother than a four-pot, but Rover's KV6
will happily rev to 7,200 rpm at the same time providing 85%
of its peak torque from below 2000 rpm. Fuel consumption in
general use has been around 32 mpg - and I'm not known for driving
it with economy in mind!
During the development of the V6 version concern was expressed
that the extra weight of the V6 engine and its heavier gearbox
would adversely affect the handling of this mid-engined car.
Surprisingly the extra 80 kg on the rear axle seemed to have
very little effect on the superb handling and balance of the
GTM Libra. Although heavier than the four-cylinder
engine-gearbox combination, the centre of mass of the V6 sits
lower in the chassis, and a little further forward, and these
two factors seem to compensate in large measure for the extra
weight. Traction is improved because of this extra weight, and
it is actually quite difficult to induce wheelspin from a standing
start on dry roads - needless to say if conditions are wet then
some care needs to exercised!
Although the Libra is fractionally smaller than the Lotus Elise/Exige
the passenger accommodation is more spacious, and there is significantly
more luggage space, both in the separate luggage compartment
in the tail, and in the space behind the seats (of which there
is none I the Lotus). I'm 6'4" tall and easily fit in the Libra
- I've driven a couple of Elises and the Lotus's driving position
does not favour taller people.
The construction of the passenger-cell/chassis is extremely
clever, and provides a number of enclosed "box" sections which
form the sills, "roll-cage" and bulkhead strengthening members.
These can be used to install speakers for a CD-radio and the
sound quality obtained is startling as they act as sealed enclosures
which maximise the efficiency of the loudspeakers. I did get
into trouble with the original designers of the car who objected
to the additional weight of a stereo system on the grounds that
their car was designed to be as light as possible. Driving in
the UK, however, and using the car as everyday transport requires
some in-car entertainment to stop the driver and passenger going
completely mad while stuck in traffic jams!
Over the eight years I've owned this car I've undertaken some
major road-trips and it has always proven to be superbly comfortable
- covering hundreds of miles in a day is no effort at all, as
the car is surprisingly quiet when cruising at main road speeds,
and the computer-designed suspension manages an excellent compromise
between roadholding, handling and comfort. Clearly it's not
going to ride as well as a Jaguar, but the car is outstandingly
stable and unaffected by road irregularities. The suspension
design cleverly incorporates both anti-dive and anti-squat in
its geometry - the car is thus very stable even under heavy
braking, and acceleration.
Overall I've been utterly delighted with the car - it's not
expensive to run, it looks fantastic in my opinion, and in V6
form is seriously and addictively fast. I doubt that mine will
ever be for sale!"
Review by: Anon:
This one was mine.