When discussing the design of a Caterham Seven, you might as well be discussing the design of a kitchen sink. It has a bowl-shaped bit in the middle with a hole in the bottom and a tap above it because it works that way.

Similarly, when Colin Chapman created the ‘Lotus Austin’ by fitting special bodywork and suspension to an Austin Seven, tuning its engine to the nth degree and giving his competitors no chance of keeping up with him, he created a template that he’d follow with various Lotuses, which were eventually to get bespoke chassis.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Caterham’s roll bar isn’t just for saving your skin, experienced weekend-awayers will use it to strap extra luggage to it

The template was the same as now: an engine in the front driving the rear wheels, with occupants seated either side of the transmission and everything else packaged as minimally as possible around all of that.

Eventually, Chapman devolved himself of the Lotus Seven and sold the rights to dealer turned Caterham Cars founder Graham Nearn. While Chapman chased bigger dreams, the Seven has been content to continue, continually updated and revised, in a more modest reality that includes people getting bigger.

So the Seven was first offered with a long cockpit option, and later – as tested here – with the SV wider body option.

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In search of more power to go with a modestly increasing dimension and the weight that comes with it – this Seven tipped our scales at 650kg – Caterham has tried forced induction once or twice before but could never get sufficient air through the engine bay.

With the 620, though, it has finally succeeded, fitting a supercharger to the 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine and liberating 310bhp at 7700rpm, with 219lb ft at a similarly heady 7350rpm.

Instead of the six-speed sequential gearbox of the 620R, the S gets a good old-fashioned five-speed manual. The wider of two front track widths is standard on both 620 models, as is a limited-slip differential.

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