True, the potential for fun is on offer, but you have to get into the thing first. The Sprint is based on the 160 model, which measures 1575mm wide, although the cabin is little more than half that, so for anyone of average or more height, slipping into the cockpit with the roof up involves using a variety of bespoke yoga movements I’m yet to learn the names of. Once in, leg room is very narrow and there’s barely enough space to rest your arms. In fact, your right arm will naturally fall into a curved section of the door and your left will rest on the transmission tunnel. It’s that tight.
Start it up and the three-pot rumbles into life, vibrating the body in a decidedly old-school manner. Once rolling, the engine feels more modern, with a familiar kick as the boost arrives from 2500rpm and turbo flutter when off throttle, but the short-ratio gearbox is tight and notchy and therefore contrasting to most new cars. The throw feels barely an inch long from neutral to first, but the narrow gate means you can’t rush the change as fast as you might expect.
The grip from the car’s skinny Avon tyres is low on damp winter roads, but the balanced chassis and deliciously communicative unassisted steering makes driving around its limit a joy. The car’s ride, while not harsh, is firm enough that every crack and surface change in the road vibrates its way through your backside, while your fingertips are in constant communication with the front tyres via that varnished wooden rim. Within seconds, you can gauge exactly what level of grip you’re working with, and even if you overstep the mark, the low speeds you’re travelling at make gathering it up a much more straightforward task. It proves a simple setup - solid beam axle and rear drum brakes included – can be supremely effective in the right application.
Every action translates into a noticeable reaction from the car, and while the cramped space makes working the 330mm-diameter wheel slightly uncomfortable, the resulting elbows-out driving style feels very 1960s.
Of course, the Sprint’s raw nature translates into limited long-distance cruising ability. Wind noise, road noise and vibrations, not to mention the ache from a lack of space to rest your left foot, as well as the boredom from a lack of radio are just a few of several reasons why you’d probably keep the Seven exclusively for charging down B-roads.