Very little of what makes the 160 interesting relates to the engine. The first 50 feet will tell you that this is not a powertrain built with performance in mind, and 500 continuous miles might just have you questioning the wisdom of putting it in a Seven at all.
Away from the lights, the wheezing triple feels every inch the microcar donkey and is utterly bereft of puff by 40mph in second gear. Caterham claims 0-60mph in under seven seconds, but in the wet we couldn’t crack eight seconds and are inclined to think that it wouldn’t go dramatically quicker even in ideal conditions.
Whipcrack standing-start acceleration, certainly of the kind that we’re used to sampling aboard a Seven, is clearly out. As is a congenial high-speed cruise. Force it to swallow a longer journey and it’ll blare 4000rpm at you from about 60mph in fifth. On the mile straight at MIRA, we couldn’t induce it to hit the advertised 100mph.
Restrict your route to town roads and motorways and the 160 comes dangerously close to inadequacy. Where it works with you rather than seemingly against is in the Seven’s standard stomping ground: the derestricted British B-road.
Here, with space to work it into a modest trot, there is a chance to enjoy the engine’s mid-range thrum through third and fourth gears. Although it’s possible to keep sourcing energy from above 7000rpm, the Suzuki unit’s best work is done between 3000rpm and 5500rpm, where the 160’s lack of mass allows the turbocharger’s audible fizz to work up something like a head of steam.
There’s no intimidation or aggressiveness to the build-up of pace – which some will consider a deficiency in excitement – but rather a peppy and law-abiding spiritedness that utterly befits the 160’s stock character.