When the Lotus Seven first came to market in 1957, it was powered by a forty-horsepower engine. Today, the top-spec Caterham Seven 620R has a supercharged 310hp motor, with Caterham F1 Team-derived carbon fiber and other trickery besides. Surely, the latest Sevens are far, far removed from the basic, build-it-yourself days of its forbears.
Perhaps it was cognizant for Caterham to trace its roots and redevelop its base model to provide a simplified, retrograde driving experience. To that aim, it has teamed up with Suzuki to power up their latest model, which they call the Caterham Seven 160.
160 in the model name represents horsepower per tonne. With a curb weight of 490 kilograms, that equates to roughly 80 horsepower from the turbocharged Suzuki K6A 660cc three-cylinder. The engine was fettled by Caterham’s engineering division, up from keijidosha-regulated 63hp of the standard motor.
Suzuki also supplied the five-speed longitudinal gearbox and the live axle at back, likely pilfered from plebeian keitora – or Multicabs, as we like to call them – parts bins. But don’t knock the budget nature of the components. The 160 accelerates to 100kph in a still-respectable 6.5 seconds. It won’t go much past 160kph though, as the Seven isn’t known for its aerodynamics.
It’s not going to set lap records like its more rabid stablemates, but that’s not the point of the 160. As Graham Macdonald, Caterham Cars CEO, points out: “It is not engine size that matters, it is the grin factor that is our barometer and we believe we have got the formula for our new entry-level vehicle just right.”
In other news, Multicabs across the Philippines are starting to sport Lotus and Caterham F1 badging and livery.