This year has seen us testing some of the most technologically advanced cars to have made it to market.
The Honda NSX impressed with its brutally efficient hybrid powertrain, the Model X with its bonkers falcon doors and the 740Le with its unique ability to blend an extended zero-emission range with continent-crushing performance. And yet, despite experiencing all of these incredibly fast and efficient machines, the car that stuck with me couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed.
In Caterham’s own words, the 310R was an ‘unplanned baby’. The engineering team hadn’t set out to revolutionise the class, or develop a more technologically advanced drivetrain. Quite simply, a new Tracksport upgrade, consisting of high-performance camshafts and revised mapping, turned out to offer such impressive all-round performance that the development team decided the engine was worthy of its own road car.
The result of this serendipitous development is one of the best-balanced Sevens we’ve had the pleasure of sampling. The reworked 152bhp 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine feels perfectly judged for road use, the Bilstein dampers provide exceptional body control and the truly brilliant - albeit optional - six-speed gearbox is simply a joy to use. After only two days with the 310R, I genuinely didn’t want to give it back, and ever since I’ve been scouring the classifieds, looking for my own slice of Caterham action.
In my review, I stated ‘if you truly care about driving, there is no other car on sale today at the same price point that delivers the same pared-back driving experience’. And at the end of 2016, I still stand by that statement. Ultimately, no matter how much tech you throw into a car, nothing truly beats a lack of mass and well judged power grip-to-power ratio.
Check back tomorrow for another of our favourite cars of the last year.