What is it?
This is it the moment we’ll find out if we were right. Right to have been boring on about manufacturers not increasing power and speed, but reducing grip and weight, in order that we have more fun. This is the most significant embodiment yet of the idea. This is the Caterham Seven 160.
We’ve talked about it a lot already, and there are many things in the confirmed spec worth noting. Cubic capacity is just 660cc, in the form of a mildly blown Suzuki (car, not bike) engine. Suzuki installs it into various Kei cars and the like, and in rear-drive form in little delivery trucks (think Bedford Rascal a few generations on) it mates it to a five-speed manual gearbox with a live rear axle.
Caterham has bought the whole unit as a job lot, stopping to increase power from its standard 64bhp to 80bhp, made at 7000rpm, before slotting it into a Seven’s chassis.
In taking the drivetrain whole, the Caterham 160 utilises drum rear brakes too, and some 4.5J x 14in steel wheels that have a different stud pattern to other Sevens: thus making the option of bigger rubber impossible. Tyres are of just 155mm cross section, in 65 per cent profile. A sticky compound? Er, no. They are Avon ZT5s and cost less than £40 a corner.
All up, weight is just 490kg. The entry price is £14,995 in component form, £17,995 turnkey.
Like the old Caterham Classic you might remember, standard equipment is thin. Not as thin as it was: the only gauge fitted as standard to the Classic in the early 90s was a speedometer. These days you get a full complement.
But, stock, the 160’s aluminium body panels are left bare, the plastic ones (nose and all four wings) offered in just four basic colours. There are adjustable cloth seats, inertia-reel belts and a Moto-Lita steering wheel (our test car’s Momo, like the screen, is an option). And that’s it. At least you get a rev counter. There’s a payoff in that kerb weight is a claimed 490kg.
That’s not a lot for even a modest output like 80bhp to propel, so Caterham claims the 160 has a 0-60mph time of 6.5sec, and that it’ll run out of puff at 100mph.