Caterham Seven 160

It doesn't get much more basic than the Caterham Seven. The original Lotus design was – and remains – the ultimate embodiment of Colin Chapman's "add lightness" ethos. But even among Sevens, some are more basic than others. And this is the most basic of them all.

Caterham has unveiled the new Seven 160 (or 165 in Europe), which packs a minuscule 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine sourced from Suzuki (not from Renault or Ford like other versions) that produces just 80 horsepower. That may sound low, but it's more than the 64 hp it churns out before Caterham's engineers get their hands on it. And in a car as tiny and light as the Seven, it's still enough muscle to hustle it up to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds and on to a 100-mph top speed.

So the 160 will not be as lightning fast in the same way that the 310-hp R620 is, but those performance figures ain't bad coming from a 660cc motorbike engine. It's also got a new live-axle rear suspension and... well that's about it. Hey, this is a Caterham Seven, not a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. UK buyers will be able to order one for just £14,995 as a kit or £17,995 fully built.
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BACK TO THE FUTURE: CATERHAM LAUNCHES SEVEN 160

- Priced from £14,995 or 17,995 fully built
- Suzuki-powered 660cc Seven with new live-axle will be ultimate in 'accessible fun'
- UK variant named Seven 160; EU gets 165

Caterham Cars has opened the order book for the Seven 160 – its new entry-level variant of the iconic sportscar, powered by a super-compact, turbocharged Suzuki engine.

Priced from £14,995 in component form, the car's live-axle rear suspension, compact engine and low weight embody the pioneering spirit of early Sevens and represent a new entry-point to the Seven range.

The Seven 160 – EU customers will get an altered version, called 165 – produces 80hp from its 660cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine, enabling it to accelerate to 60mph in a brisk 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 100mph.

With fleet-of-foot charm and handling finesse, rather than outright performance dictating the driving experience, the new car redefines the budget sportscar segment while introducing new levels of efficiency and value for money to the Caterham range.

Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: "As the Caterham Group as a whole grows and expands into new sectors and industries, our commitment to keep evolving the Seven is very much alive.

"The 160 offers something truly different to the entry-level market. It's more economical, more accessible and every bit as fun on the road as other Sevens but has its own unique personality."

The new rear axle, a throwback to early Sevens in terms of simplicity and purity of design, complements the Suzuki Motor Corporation engine and lower overall body weight, while delivering Caterham's acclaimed, intuitive handling experience and a balanced yet playful chassis.

To meet the desired performance criteria, the Caterham Group's engineering consultancy, Caterham Technology & Innovation (CTI), fine-tuned engine performance from its standard output of 64hp to 80hp, while boosting fuel economy and reducing vehicle emissions. The vehicle conforms to EU5, EU6 and JC08 emissions regulations.

Macdonald continued: "The engineering challenges we faced when developing the new vehicle were significant. The engine, suspension and the overall dynamics all needed to work in harmony and the various arms of the Group have been successful in pooling facilities and expertise to achieve that."

The number five at the end of the EU spec car's moniker signifies that the vehicle complies with the EU5 emissions standards, allowing it to be sold across mainland Europe and beyond.

Production of the Caterham Seven 160 and 165 is expected to begin in January 2014, with first deliveries later that Spring.