Friday 21 April 2017
Caterham has been around for 60 years now, and to celebrate that fact it has created this – the Seven Sprint.
It happily flaunts its retro looks while keeping true to company founder Colin Chapman’s lightweight, good to drive ethos. A 660cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine from Suzuki sits under the bonnet, and while that might not sound like much, the Sprint’s low weight of 490kg means there’s more than enough performance on offer.
Caterham has lavished retro appeal on the Seven Sprint, from the traditional metal model badges at the rear to the crème alloy wheels – it’s hard not to love how this thing looks.
Inside the retro theme continues, with red leather-trimmed sports seats that are surprisingly comfortable and a moto-lita steering wheel that instantly transports you back to the early days of Caterham. It’s brilliantly executed and feels every bit of its £27,995 price tag.
The dials are clear and easy to read, while the headlight toggle switch is robust giving a sense of quality. The handmade precision with which the Sprint is put together is obvious throughout.
Caterham’s models aren’t known for their practicality, and this one’s no different – there isn’t even a glove box. One of the few luxuries is a 9V charging point. However, there’s enough space behind the seats for a soft weekend bag or a few items of shopping, so it wouldn’t be impossible to take it away for a few days.
The Caterham Seven Sprint almost forces a big grin on your face and it’s truly refreshing to go without the big distractions found in many modern cars. The loads of feedback through the steering wheel so you can really feel changes in the road surface, but this does mean longer road trips can be incredibly tiring.
Using the five-speed gearbox is a joy, though it can be a little stiff when cold. Handling is sharp and nimble, but the narrow tyres mean it’s easy to overcome grip and have the car moving about at sane speeds.
Yes, at nearly £30,000 the Seven Sprint is a lot of money, especially for what will almost certainly be a ‘second car’. You don’t get much in the way of equipment, technology or comfort either. However, the all-encompassing driving experience will have you wondering why typical modern cars bother with 18-way adjustable seats or radar-guided cruise control at all.
Many won’t appreciate the exposure to the elements, but keen drivers will almost certainly love the way it makes them feel.
The Caterham Seven Sprint would suit drivers who want a car to drive for fun at the weekends or sunny summer evenings. Those looking for a daily driver would probably be better suited looking elsewhere, though.
Engine tested: 660cc three-cylinder
Max speed: 100mph
0-60mph: 6.3 seconds
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