The better accessibility and convenience of the 620S’s performance is mirrored in the overhaul of the chassis.

There is nothing necessarily complicated about Caterham’s replacement of the 620R’s ‘race’ suspension with its ‘sport’ alternative. This is, after all, the distinction drawn between ‘S’ and ‘R’ across the current Seven line-up.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Small wheel and a cramped cockpit make it hard to grab serious amounts of lock, so best to avoid kicking the tail out quickly or wide

But just as the manual gearbox provides a louche and likable side to a car previously limited by its own savagery, so the less aggressive springs and dampers unlock the 620’s lighter side.

Despite wearing 15in Orcus anthracite alloy wheels as standard (we remain loyal fans of the Seven’s classic 13in wheel, which is a £200 option), the car now rides with measured aplomb.

Where the R has a tendency to gripe at less than perfect surfacing, the S remains largely benign, the pliancy of its wheel control now tailor-made to suit erratic B-road asphalt.

Larger deflections remain a problem and are felt (and heard) as almighty rear-end clonks from the back axle. But limits to comfort levels are inevitable when the chassis is still required to marshal the same 310bhp available in the R.

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Here, not unsurprisingly, the S must yield some of the lateral grip and tenacious poise delivered by its track-focused stablemate, which is not without disadvantage (see ‘Track notes’, left). Yet away from a circuit, the handling balance achieved is a blast.

Enhanced compliance means the car can be driven at three-quarter pace (decidedly briskly) without the anxious distraction of the R’s tense and restive roadholding.

Better still, the chassis – on the road, at least – very rarely feels overawed by the power on tap. There’s a wired gusto to the tail end, certainly, but if your in-public exuberance is limited to dramatic getaways and empty roundabouts, its level of adjustability is intoxicating and just enough of a challenge to make it fun without being overly unforgiving.

It is this exuberance – and the muscle-car-blatant availability of it – which makes the appeal of the progressively sprung 620S so thrillingly broad.

On a very cold and, in some places, damp circuit, it’s hard to get the tyres much more than lukewarm, which, combined with 310bhp attempting to make its way onto the asphalt, has predictably hilarious consequences.

It’s possible to set up a Caterham to handle pretty much how you like it, to an extent: with a little understeer, broadly neutral, or a bias towards slight oversteer. With the 620S, though, you can do what you like to the geometry, but this car prefers to go sideways with any kind of serious throttle application.

That’s okay, mind. A Caterham is a progressive car when it starts sliding. Even on these progressive springs, there’s decent body control, and even with the bigger chassis, there isn’t so much weight as to make the 620S a handful.

It simply goes where you point it as you turn in, and allows any kind of throttle to adjust that line thereafter. The weighty steering isn’t made for throwing on several turns of lock — there aren’t that many, for a start — but keep your hands on the wheel and mild slides are easy to come by.

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