Caterham 7 Convertible review
A truly entertaining sports car in the vein of its original Lotus 7 ancestor the Caterham 7 is about as much fun as you can have driving. Built continuously since the 1960s it's evolved to include new engines though time, but in any form it retains its lightweight and nimble handling formula that makes any car feel leaden in comparison. Late 2004 saw the introduction of the CSR, the most comprehensive re-development of the Seven ever. It brings a redeveloped chassis, inboard suspension and a Cosworth developed engine with either 200 or 260bhp. It effectively replaces the Superlight cars, as since the CSR has been introduced orders for them have all but stopped. The existing engines remain too, in less expensive models, with the 1.6-litre or 1.8-litre Rover K-series engines offered in various states of tune. With doubts over the continuation of the Rover-sourced engines, expect a new unit to be sourced fairly soon.
However, whatever the engine powering the Caterham, the Seven's minimal weight ensures that even with relatively low outputs their performance is hugely entertaining. It's because of this that the Caterham Seven is one of the most popular cars ever for track use. With suspension that's adjustable to the buyer's requirements it can be made pliant for lots of road use, or firmer for those wanting a more focussed machine. The Seven feels as if it was bred for racing; its tiny steering wheel responding immediately to input, the short-throw gearshift being positive and throttle response lightning fast. A quick drive along twisty lanes highlights the Seven's immensely likeable character. The model range changes on an almost weekly basis, a result of the ability to react to every individual customer's needs. SV models are the best bet, offering a little bit more space and comfort than the cramped original cars. Even so, it's still a hugely frivolous, impractical purchase. But if you enjoy driving then you'll undoubtedly enjoy every second behind the wheel of a Caterham. Any Caterham.