Caterham headlines the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week with the unveiling of its stunning Project V concept – a vision of an electric sports coupé that the Kent-based marque could put into production as soon as 2026 at a rate of around 2000 units per year.
Completely unrelated to the Caterham Seven and built around a totally bespoke and all-new lightweight architecture, it is described more as a “small tourer” than an apex-hunting track car like its minimalist sibling. It categorically does not replace the Seven, although it has been designed with a rigid focus on the “simple, light and fun to drive” ethos that CEO Bob Laishley says must continue to define the Caterham brand into the electric era.
With a targeted real-world range of 249 miles, enough luggage space for a weekend away and niceties such as air-con and basic touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay connectivity, it looks to provide everyday utility on a par with cars like the Alpine A110 and Mazda MX-5.
A single permanent magnet synchronous motor delivers 268bhp to the rear wheels and is good for a claimed 0-62mph time of less than 4.5sec and a top speed of 143mph – figures that point to its billing as a usable sports coupé, rather than a hardcore track toy.
Unusually, the concept features a 2+1 seating layout aimed at bolstering usability compared with two-seat rivals. The single rear seat – “only possible” because of the packaging freedoms afforded by an electric architecture – is designed primarily to carry a child but could conceivably host a shorter adult for brief hops. This is a “very rare” attribute for a purpose-built sports car, said Laishley, and means an owner could feasibly keep the car after having a child, and use the car for more than just solo Sunday morning drives – with the obvious benefit of remaining lighter than a four-seater. However, a fourth seat is planned to be an option for the final car.
On the important subject of kerb weight, Caterham has yet to give a final figure, but Autocar understands the concept comes in at about 100kg over the eventual target of 1190kg – less than a Toyota GR86. Composite body panels and “an advanced spaceframe” will be crucial to achieving this final figure, as will lightweight drivetrain components and a suitably sparing equipment list.