Retro Caterham is rebooted with 600 and 2000 versions. We drive the 2.0-litre

Caterham has rebooted its luxury retro model for 2022. The Caterham Super Seven 1600 came out a few years ago and was based on the standard Caterham Seven 270 but added retro features including fixed front wings, a mesh grille, classic gauges, a leather dash, a choice of exclusive paint colours, and Minilite-style wheels.

Since it proved popular, but Ford discontinued the 1600 Sigma engine powering it, Caterham has now extended the Super Seven treatment to the rest of the range. Using the Caterham 170 with the turbocharged 660cc Suzuki three-pot and the 2.0-litre Ford Duratec powered Caterham 360 as a base, Caterham has created the Super Seven 600 and 2000.

The basic 600 version starts from £29,990, or £32,585 if you’re not one to get the spanners out and prefer Caterham build it for you. That’s £5000 more than the standard 170. The 2000 version we’re driving starts from £39,990, which is a £8000 premium over a normal 360.

Both Super Sevens get a bit of extra equipment such as the spare wheel, and the 2000 gains a lightened flywheel, but the real draw is all the retro touches. You also get the option of a slightly plusher interior and some chassis choices that aren’t normally available on the standard car. Certainly, it’s not enough to make a Super Seven in any way a bargain – you have to buy into the retro vibe.

Then again, any Caterham isn’t really a rational purchase, even though they do hold their value well. And it appears there is still plenty of enthusiasm for the old Seven – more than ever, in fact: Caterham’s order books are so full that if you order one today it’ll be at least a year before it gets built.

12 Caterham super seven 2000 fd 2022 interior side

Drive the Super Seven and it’s easy to be smitten. If you’ve tried any other Caterham, there won’t be any major surprises, but the spec of our test car, with the standard suspension, 180bhp engine and normal road tyres, felt like a particularly sweet one.

The 2.0-litre’s got a slug more torque than the other engines. That might sound like the wrong priority in an energetic 585kg bathtub, but the Duratec is still more than happy to rev to well past 7000rpm, and makes quite a vintage sort of noise while doing it. The exhaust exiting by your right hip certainly helps with the acoustics.

No, having the extra low-down grunt just makes it much easier to play with the balance, the skinny Avon tyres smudging wide on command. It also means the gearing can be more relaxed, which makes seeking out good roads further afield less of an undertaking.

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02 Caterham super seven 2000 fd 2022 rear corner

It might surprise some, but especially in one like this – less so in a 170R with its buzzy engine and the track suspension set-up and carbonfibre bucket seats – you could absolutely tour Europe. That's as long as you fit in the thing, which is a lot easier in a wide-chassis car with a lowered floor like the one we drove than in the prettier narrow-body version.

The other benefit of the four-cylinder engine is that it gets a de Dion rear axle, instead of a live axle, which helps to give it a more pliant ride than a lot of family crossovers.

Of course, you really buy a Caterham because all the controls are ultra-direct. That requires some recalibration to drive smoothly, but once it clicks, the raw sensations of the unassisted brakes and steering, the straight-into-the-box gearchange and the feeling of the lightness are unmatched. It’s one of the great motoring experiences and one that is getting increasingly hard to find.

An Ariel Atom does a lot of the same things but is more expensive, less usable and feels altogether more serious. A Morgan Super 3 dials up the retro vibe even more, and offers a less serious driving experience that’s just as amusing and engaging but in a different way. A Mazda MX-5, as great as it is, feels like a Mercedes SL in comparison.

I drove the Caterham in the same week as the Genesis Electrified GV70 and Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric, and the Seven was the perfect reset button. That's not to detract from the two electric cars, quite the contrary – they’re smooth, quick, easy to drive and, not unimportantly, have a radio. A Caterham is so perfectly opposite that as long as it’s not regulated out of existence, it would also be the perfect complement to a long-range EV in a future two-car garage.

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03 Caterham super seven 2000 fd 2022 side


Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.

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HughB 4 October 2022

Looks very good in that colour combination.

martin_66 5 October 2022


Looks very good in that colour combination.


Dogsh*t brown?  That's a colour last seen on an Austin Princes in the 1970s.

jer 4 October 2022

Just me or is Caterham naming of versions confusing.

si73 4 October 2022
I find these super sevens make more sense being based on engine size, ie 2000 or 600, not so sure on the 170 or 360, unless it's power to weight?
I really like the retro super sevens and would definitely have one in my garage if I could afford it, though I'd be tempted with the 600, in this bronze colour tested here.
martin_66 4 October 2022
jer wrote:

Just me or is Caterham naming of versions confusing.

You obviously haven't seen BMW's model names if you think this is confusing.  Or Audi's, they have 30, 40, 50 to denote how powerful the engine is.  Totally meaningless and impossible to understand.