Caterham Seven 160
London - Arab Today
Taking a car as minimal as the Caterham Seven back to basics might seem like the law of diminishing returns but there's a real buzz about the new 160, both at Caterham and among customers."We've long wanted a true entry-level car,"
says Caterham's chief commercial officer David Ridley, "and we've been aware prices of the DeDion cars have been climbing."Reverting to a traditional live axle was one way of cutting cost out of the Seven but since supplies of the Marina/Ital units in Caterhams of old dried up options have been limited. Indeed, according to Ridley this is the first live axle equipped Seven for well over a decade. This one comes from the Suzuki Jimny, likewise the unapologetic five-speed gearbox, while the 660cc K6A turbocharged engine is an off-the-shelf Suzuki item boosted to 80hp. Sold in the UK as the 160, the export model has a slightly different emissions map from Caterham Technology and Innovation and is called the 165, '5' referring to Euro 5 compatibility.Even with all the turbo gubbins this tiny three-cylinder weighs a useful 26kg less than the 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine on the £19,995 (kit) 125hp Roadsport that was the previous entry level to the Seven range. All contributing to that startling 490kg baseline weight figure. Other than that the 160 is your standard S3 Seven, albeit with narrower rear track and rear wings pulled in by around 28mm each side to accommodate the skinny 155/65R14 Avon tyres.It looks and feels tiny but bombproof and will make for a most entertaining city runabout thanks to the gutsy power delivery and tiny dimensions. Indeed, tricked by the Garmin into a route across central Bologna and with our flight time looming we took advantage of this, the Seven finding additional lanes where there weren't any and, with a muttered prayer, more or less able to follow the locals on their scooters through the packed traffic.It's 'cheaper' rather than 'cheap' but a welcome step in the right direction for a Seven range that's been getting increasingly expensive, power crazed and top heavy.