Caterham Seven CSR 260

20 Apr, 2005 12:53pm Piers Ward

The average life-cycle for a modern car is around seven years, but a legend takes longer to develop. Caterham's Seven has been on sale for nearly half a century, yet only now have engineers given the classic its most significant update ever.

Verdict

What a transformation. You could never call a Caterham civilised, but the CSR is easier to live with than other Sevens. The range-topper is now more comfortable, and one of the quickest cars you can buy. At £34,000, the CSR is a costly toy and as such, it may not be a best-seller. However, it will bring the spotlight back on the Surrey firm.
The average life-cycle for a modern car is around seven years, but a legend takes longer to develop. Caterham's Seven has been on sale for nearly half a century, yet only now have engineers given the classic its most significant update ever.

While the exterior looks unchanged, the new flagship CSR (Caterham Cosworth Seven Road and Racing) has a redesigned chassis and new engine. Entry-level models will still get K Series units as long as they're available from MG Rover, but the range-topper will be fitted with a bespoke 2.3-litre motor.

The newcomer has effectively re-placed the R400 and 500 Superlight models, as Caterham hasn't had any orders for these since the announcement of the Cosworth-powered car.

That's no surprise, as the CSR is light years ahead. Whereas before you felt every drive was a white-knuckle ride, now you have the thrills without the fear. The engine delivers staggering speed, and you don't have to work it as hard to extract the performance.

The CSR offers better grip out of corners because of its softer suspension set-up. It's still firm, but driving down a bumpy road is less unnerving - a benefit of the new independent rear suspension. Couple the compliant chassis with the accurate and pin-sharp steering, and you've got a fantastic trackday vehicle. The interior is all-new as well, and looks and feels much more modern. You can even specify self-cancelling indicators, but we feel the Ford parts bin stalks look out of place.

While tall drivers might struggle with the steering wheel position, Caterham claims the CSR is so adaptable, the cabin size can be altered to suit. All these revisions haven't come a moment too soon, and they've been well worth the wait.

Key specs

With the new CSR, Caterham aims to broaden its appeal. Boasting a chassis 100 per cent stiffer than before, the new model is a thrilling lightweight two-seater.

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