Despite costing just £20k, this special-edition Caterham still causes a stir

Our Verdict

Caterham Seven Superlight

The Caterham Superlight scintillates with simplicity. There's little quicker or more focused for the price

  • First Drive

    First drive review: Caterham R600

    Race-only Caterham R600 is breathtaking on a circuit. On the road, we just hope one day to find out
  • First Drive

    Caterham R500

    Expensive, but worth it for an R500 that has improved in every respect
1 September 2010

What is it?

A special edition of Caterham’s entry-level 125bhp Roadsport model, with a colour scheme inspired by the Monegasque flag. Other than black highlights and the full-length red and white strip, the bodywork is unpainted aluminium. The interior gets black leather seats as standard and red carpeting.

While it’s true that those aren’t exactly sweeping changes over the standard car, the Monaco doesn’t come with a premium price. It is actually cheaper than a factory-built 125bhp Roadsport, which costs £21,200. The Monaco’s official price is £20,995, but the first 20 cars are being sold for £19,995.

What’s it like?

While Caterham’s more extreme Superlight models are all well and good when you have a track at your disposal, for road driving I’ve always preferred the slightly tamer versions. The 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine has plenty of low-down torque, which means you don’t have to work the engine so hard, plus the clutch is lighter. Which might sound like I’m wimping out – but the reality is, in a Caterham you don’t have to be travelling quickly to enjoy yourself.

In fact, if you’re simply out to enjoy a favourite stretch of road, the Monaco’s 227bhp per tonne is not far off the performance sweet spot. Enough propulsion that you have to think about what you’re doing, but not so much that you can’t use full throttle for more than five seconds.

With the Monaco’s special edition pricing comes a few restrictions; that the options available are more limited than usual. Sticking with the standard five-speed gearbox isn’t a great hardship; the spread of ratios work well with the engine’s powerband, and the shift is satisfyingly slick.

However, that you aren’t able to option a limited-slip differential seems a shame. Because even the Monaco’s modest 125bhp is enough to test the Avon ZV3s' adhesion exiting slower corners. And without a diff the results are a bit hit and miss.

Now watch the video of the Caterham Monaco in action

Should I buy one?

In truth, the Monaco is little more than clever marketing. But if you like the colour scheme, the pricing makes it an excellent first step into Caterham ownership.

And beyond the fancy name, the Monaco is a timely reminder that the basic Caterham remains a brilliantly simple and satisfying product.

Jamie Corstorphine

Caterham Seven Roadsport Monaco 125

Price: £19,995 (first 20 cars); Engine: 4cyl in line, 1598cc, petrol; Installation: Front, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive; Power: 125bhp at 6100rpm; Torque: 120lb ft at 5350rpm; 0-60mph: 5.9sec; Top Speed: 112mph; Weight: 550kg; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Join the debate


8 September 2010

it could do with the toyo x rated tyres from the atom v8.

8 September 2010

This sounds great - as you say enough power (not too much, fun to drive and a cracking price for a bit of fun

8 September 2010

[quote ischiaragazzo]This sounds great - as you say enough power (not too much, fun to drive and a cracking price for a bit of fun[/quote]

Add to that low depreciation for a really good case to have one

9 September 2010

[quote artill]Add to that low depreciation for a really good case to have one[/quote]

Good point - it would have to be close to zero surely? What a great second car - fun and affordable. What more could a chap want?

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK