Like many features of the Caterham experience, the car’s petite and broadly rudimentary cabin tendsto provoke a love/hate response. Quiet, spacious and comfortable it is not.
The finish has improved recently, but no one would wager their pension scheme on the dials not falling out during the oil’s first lifecycle.
Nevertheless, it is a place of singular purpose and conviction. There are two seats, a steering wheel, a gearknob, a handbrake, a bank of purely functional toggles and a heater. That’s it, and that’s the way its customer base tends to like it.
The Seven is for indulging your pleasure of driving, not your contemporary notion of convenience.
However, whereas the standard 620R took this ethos to a track-focused extreme, the S walks the notion back a little. It shares the carbonfibre dashboard layout – Caterham’s most expensive, and best, configuration of dials and buttons – but changes much else.
Although our test car came with heated buckets (an exceptionally brilliant, if pricey, innovation) the standard model does not but instead swaps the R’s no-compromise seating for a more normal padded leather affair. With them goes the eyeball-threatening aero screen, replaced by the welcome sight of a proper, heated windscreen.
With that in place, Caterham can offer the car with its usual vinyl doors and fiddly hood – a combination that drastically increases the model’s usability (as does the heater, which was also relegated to the option list on the 620R).
As a result of more usability, something is inevitably compromised, which in this case is the visibility, as it can hinder the view out, and the wing mirrors can be difficult to adjust without the help of a passenger.
It is the recent availability of the SV chassis, though, – not previously offered with the R500 – that helpfully broadens the model’s appeal. Try as they might, occupants much over six feet tall won’t find the orthodox S3 chassis a good fit.
Ditto for anyone who hasn’t been skipping desert since their late teens. But the SV, as was intended at its introduction, expands just enough to make the Seven’s interior a more accommodating affair. It’s still not ample or generous, but that’s as it should be.