If you don’t already know whether you’re the sort of person who can get comfortable in a regular Seven, it won’t take you long to find out. Two out of three members of the Autocar road test team are, and the third usually considers the uncomfortable squeeze good value for such a vivid driving experience – albeit only over short distances.
If you’re taller than 6ft 4in, though, forget it – but don’t despair. There are plenty of more accommodating track specials. In truth, the size of the Seven’s cabin will be just one of the car’s limitations for those wanting to do anything other than drive around in circles at weekends in it – be they small circles on the track, or larger circles on the road.
This isn’t a ‘usable’ car. Filled with folded weather gear, the boot is only big enough for one soft bag, and the Caterham's cockpit is an intimate squeeze for two people. There is also no larger SV version of the 160.
There is plenty of scope to make the 160 your own, with lots of options to make life that bit easier. Caterham has also put together what it coins as the S pack, which for an additional £2995, adds a fully carpeted interior, a proper windscreen and windows, leather seats, a Momo steering wheel, a heater and 12V socket. All of these options can be added individually but selecting a few together can workout more expensive than opting for Caterham's pre-defined S pack.
Still, once you’re in, inertia reel belt done up, you’re over the worst of the inconvenience. The fascia has a smart, simple black finish, a theme picked up by the handsome black gearlever. The speedo and tacho are small yet easy to see, but from there leftwards the oil pressure, temperature and fuel gauges are increasingly difficult to read.
Still, you get used to them, and although the ignition barrel is hidden out of sight and the immobiliser is often fiddly to disarm, familiarity breeds satisfaction here. The car is much more agreeable to drive with the doors off in the sun than roof up in the rain, as our noise measurements (done in the latter state) attest.
It is a toy brimming with charm for high days and holidays. Treated as such, its limitations become part of the appeal.