Caterham Seven 310 2016 review

Caterham Seven 310 is the new sweet spot in the range with a thrilling mix of balance and pace

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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This new Caterham Seven 310 is a sweet spot in the iconic range, with just the right amount of power for road use. It blends this with addictive classic Caterham traits that make this a beautifully balanced and engaging two-seater. Simply, it’s a brilliant British sports car, and long may it continue.

Following a range-wide overhaul last year, there’s now yet another variant of Caterham’s venerable Seven sports car that’s joined the line-up. It’s called the Seven 310, and although it looks the same as most Caterham’s, with its frog-eye headlights and dinky dimensions, its differentiated by what’s underneath the bonnet.

The Seven range can be a bit confusing if you’re not a Caterham aficionado. Here, 310 denotes the power to weight ratio, meaning the Ford-sourced 1.6-litre engine produces 152bhp thanks to some upgraded cams and revised engine mapping over the 270 model. And weighing a little over 500kg it means the performance is genuinely impressive. 

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There’s no traction control, but hook the Seven up off the line and it’ll sprint on to 60mph in 4.8 seconds, while the relatively crude aerodynamics and short gearing limit top speed to 126mph. 

That lack of weight means although the 168Nm torque figure doesn’t sound all that much, the engine pulls hard from low down, so you don’t have to rev it to the redline all the time. The rush if you do is intoxicating, while the five-speed manual on this car was a joy to use, with a precise, mechanical action and a short, positive throw. 

But the Seven is about so much more than straight-line speed. Like all Caterham’s, the fluid steering is full of feel, and with the punchy engine you can use the throttle to subtly adjust the car’s line as well as the steering. 

Our S pack equipped test car featured Sport dampers rather than the racier versions available on R models. This makes it more compliant on the road, but the low-slung sports car is still firm. However, body control is great, too, which allows you to make the most of the available grip and carry huge speed through corners. 

There’s nothing out there that offers the same experience as the refreshingly oldschool Seven, but the 310 isn’t just about upgrading the 1.6 engine’s power.

There’s another technical development making its debut in the form of LED headlights. Our test car didn’t benefit from the new £800 option, but it shows that despite the model’s extensive heritage, Caterham is trying to keep the Seven as up to date as possible.

At £24,995 fully built (£3,000 less if you want to wield the spanners yourself) the Seven 310 isn’t cheap, but compared to much more expensive single-minded sports cars, this Caterham actually represents decent value for the performance on offer.

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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