First 5 Minutes: Caterham Seven 160

Caterham-160

On paper it looks doubtful. It has, after all, a mere 80hp, which is half what most buyers think is the minimum acceptable.

Then there’s the engine. It’s from Suzuki, it has a capacity of 660cc and the top speed is just 100mph.

Oh, and for £15k you have to build the car yourself. It’s £3k extra for the finished, factory job. And rather a lot of bits that you might have thought came included are options. Like a heater. And a roof. And a windscreen.

But I have been here before. 25 years ago I bought on old Lotus Seven that had just 86 horsepower from its 1600cc Ford crossflow, and I hung onto it for a decade. The new Caterham 160 echoes the past, and it is, let me assure you, jolly good fun.

That three-cylinder Suzuki has real get-up-and-go, and in any gear at legal speeds the Seven simply lunges forward with great enthusiasm. It’s all helped by the tiniest turbocharger I have ever seen, ridiculous low gearing and incredibly low weight.

And you know what? Despite a grim December afternoon, I had a ball.

Mind you, this Seven did have the optional heater.

 

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  • £15k is still lot of money if you compare it to something from the self build kit car scene, not sure the badge is worth the extra.

  • You’ll be interested in a followup piece we’re running later today, David..!