The most important part of the specification of Caterham’s new three-cylinder entry-level model, the 160, reads as follows: 155/55 R14 Avon ZT5.
The Avon ZT5 is a basic, everyday tyre, not a sports tyre. And a width of 155mm is barely wider than the average space saver.
In short, riding on four of them should make the new Caterham absolutely hilarious fun, absolutely everywhere.
Caterham’s executives certainly think so. They’ve just finished signing-off the 160’s handling, and they think it’s as brilliant as 7s get, as much fun as a 620R, albeit in slightly different ways.
Okay, they would think that, right? Well, of course. But I’m happy to believe it for now. Any Seven is a good thing. One that’s happy to indulge you, all the time, should be a great thing.
We’ve been banging on about this for a while when it comes to sports cars: don’t increase power, reduce grip, we’ve said. And Caterham have.
On those tyres, the 11bhp of my kart would be a giggle, so 80bhp should be plenty to get along with.
Two things would normally concern me, though. There is a turbo, and there is not a limited-slip differential. However, Caterham says it is impressed by the absence of lag, and that there’s so little grip that the absence of a slippy diff is no great problem, either. If you want it to slip around a little, it will.
It’s a neat installation, incidentally. The engine, gearbox and live rear axle are all Suzuki items, and they fit a treat.
Natural thinking would have been for Caterham to try Ford’s little Ecoboost triple-cylinder engine, but Caterham found two things. One, it’s heavy compared to the Suzuki unit (the Ford donkey is engineered for outputs up to 170bhp, so that’s no great surprise).
Secondly, the Ford unit is a whole lot more expensive. That’s why the 160 can cost from around £17,000 when it goes on sale at the start of next year.
Caterham is still deciding what kit to put on the standard equipment list, and working out when it can launch the 160 properly: Suzuki is involved in the decision-making process for the latter part. Either way, I’m hopelessly excited.