Caterham CSR Convertible review

Our Rating: 
Caterham CSR
2005 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Caterham Seven might be an enduring legend, but it's evolved very gradually to respond to the needs of buyers, while providing ever more extreme performance. The wider, slightly more spacious (yet barely more practical) SV was perhaps the last large evolutionary step in the Seven's development, but this CSR is the next. As a step for Caterham this is as significant as fish crawling out of the sea and replacing fins with limbs and gills with lungs. At first glance it shares its lines with its Seven siblings, but look closer and there's a lot of small but significant differences. Firstly the front wheels have aerodynamically honed wings, while the nose has been profiled with wind tunnel assistance, too. The suspension is no longer exposed either, with inboard suspension now featuring in a significantly revised chassis.

Perhaps the most obvious area of development is in the cockpit. Gone is the flat panel dashboard, replaced with a new tubular structure that has some concessions to ergonomics and modern conveniences like column stalks. So what it's still pretty basic? Caterhams are about driving and the CSR certainly doesn't disappoint. Indeed the 'C' in CSR stands for Cosworth, which if you've any interest in driving is sure to get your pulse racing. As for the 'S' and 'R' they stand for 'Seven' and 'Road and Racing' and they mean that underneath the bonnet rests a 2.3-litre Cosworth tuned Ford engine producing either 200 or 260bhp. Given 100bhp is enough to make a Caterham feel lightening quick then the 2.3-litre engine gives it extraordinary performance. The CSR 200 is able to crack 60mph in just 3.7 seconds and reach 140mph, and if that's still not quick enough then try the 260, which does the same in 3.1 seconds and will reach 155mph. The new suspension makes for a more compliant, but still utterly faithful drive, the aerodynamic changes making the Seven more surefooted at higher speeds. All are built using the aforementioned SV's larger dimensions, which are still far from generous. That's not the point of cars like the Caterham CSR though, as you'll be more than prepared to put up with the impracticalities of such a machine simply for the joy of driving it. For a fun drive, you'll struggle to find better, at any price.

Engines, performance and drive

MPG, CO2 and running costs

Interior, design and technology

Practicality, comfort and boot space

Reliability and Safety

Last updated: 29 Dec, 2006