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The new, simplified ambit of Caterham Sevens. There are now aloof bristles amount models, bookended by the candied little three-cylinder 160 at the lower end and the fire-breathing supercharged 620R monster at the other. In the average we now accept the 270, 360 and 420 models.
Each of those can be defined in S or R trim. The above is geared appear alley use and includes such luxuries as a carpeting (these are Caterhams…) and covering seats. The R versions, which we’re testing here, are actual abundant biased appear fast alley and clue driving. To that end they appear adapted with a bound blooper differential, four-point harnesses, blended chase seats and trackday tyres.
The 270 is powered by Ford’s new 1.6-litre Sigma engine. It uses capricious valve timing and delivers 135bhp – up 10bhp compared to the Roadsport 125 that this archetypal replaces. 60mph is dealt with in 5.0 abnormal collapsed and the top acceleration is 122mph.
Ford’s accustomed 2-litre Duratec agent admiral the 360 and 420 models, although it appearance a dry sump in the latter. With 180bhp and 210bhp respectively, the 360 and 420 will ability 60mph in 4.8 and 4.0 seconds. Top speeds are 130mph and 136mph.
Five-speed chiral gearboxes are adapted as accepted with six-speed units accessible as addition extras. The 270 and 420 models that we activated were adapted with the six-speeder.
Low weight is, as it’s consistently been, axial to the Caterham Seven proposition. The 270 weighs from 540kg, which gives it a power-to-weight arrangement of 250bhp/ton – about the aforementioned as a Porsche 911.
The 360 is a little added at 560kg, but with its added ability it betters the 270’s power-to-weight arrangement by some 71bhp/ton. The 420 weighs the aforementioned as the 360 and manages 375bhp/ton – aloof a few credibility shy of the Ferrari 458 Italia.
All three models run on bifold wishbone advanced abeyance with semi-independent de Dion setups at the rear. They anniversary came adapted with 13-inch Avon trackday elastic – ZZ-S on the 270 and 360 and the yet added focused ZZ-R on the 420.
As ever, all three versions are an complete hoot. We went anon to a racetrack to put the three new Sevens through their paces, but we will get them aback in during the abutting few weeks to try them out on the accessible road.
Like every Seven that has gone afore anniversary of these new models feels animate and active in a way that few others alley cars can anytime achievement to replicate. They accept council to die for, absurd anchor pedal feel and an unrivalled faculty of affiliation amid man and machine. All of that is a accustomed – so let’s focus instead on what distinguishes these three models from one another.
“As ever, the caterham feels tiny, dispersed but additionally abundantly evocative. It bombards you with information.”-Jethro Bovingdon-evo 209
The 270 wears a six-inch tyre on the rear arbor rather than the eight-inch elastic that the 360 and 420 use. With a abate rear acquaintance application the 270 is every bit as adjustable on the burke as the added able models, which makes it aloof as abundant fun, but it delivers its thrills at lower speeds.
It’s absolutely easier to abet a accelerate in the 270 because the alteration into blooper is added accelerating – and there’s still affluence of ability to sustain that slide. This analysis car was bureaucracy to be accommodating and fun, rather than aciculate and edgy. On the ambit it aloof feels abundantly candied and altogether balanced.
Even with its bashful 135bhp it feels like all the Seven you could need. The six-speed ‘box accouterment actual abundantly and crisply, too. With time, however, you ability able-bodied feel as admitting you’d baffled the 270’s attainable dynamics and activate to crave added ability – decidedly if you absurd a atom of aggressive hillclimbing or sprinting.
The 360 anon feels brawnier and torquier in the way it accelerates, but still with a active top end. The six-speed gearbox of the 270 analysis car was bigger to this 360’s five-speeder – it doesn’t feel bent amid ratios and the about-face activity was sweeter.
As it was set up on the day the 360 had a little added understeer on about-face in and bigger absorption admitting the added ability – acknowledge the added rear tyres for that. The aftereffect is that the 360 acquainted beneath antic through the corners than the 270 to activate with, but anon abundant you’ll apprentice to administer the antecedent understeer by blockage your access acceleration or by axis in on the brakes.
That’ll see the advanced end bound into the acme in able Seven fashion. From that point on it takes alone a advantageous cossack abounding of burke set the 360 up in that admirable four-tyres-sliding attitude that makes Sevens so intoxicating. It requires a little added accomplishment and compassionate than the 270, but the after-effects are account it.
The 420, meanwhile, was an altogether added focused apparatus – both because of its bureaucracy and stickier tyres. Whereas the lower powered models can be danced up to their banned and captivated there – the disciplinarian demography liberties and aggravating altered techniques after affair – the 420 wants a added advised approach.
Of course, there is a abundant accord that can be done with the alone set ups of these cars, but as activated the 420 was a annoying beast. It mightn’t accept been as antic and accommodating as its stablemates, but if you booty the time to apprentice how to get the best out of it the 420 does become badly enjoyable. It demands a tidier active style, it punishes absent-minded active and it isn’t so amiable back you do accelerate it over the limit.
The trade-off, of course, is arduous on-circuit performance. Driven accurately the 420 is a abundant faster car than the 270 and 360 and there is an constant joy in that claiming – but you’ll apparently beam out loud added generally in the ‘lesser’ cars.
Direct rivals are few and far between, but the Ariel Atom is a appetizing alternative. It starts at £30,573, so it undercuts the mid-range 360 with the R kit by about £400, but it absolutely outguns the top-spec 420 by 35bhp. The Atom looks bigger amount for money, then, but the Seven is hardly bluff to drive on track.
If a Seven is aloof too hardcore, the added adapted Lotus Elise starts at £30,900. The 1.6-litre abject archetypal doesn’t action the achievement of alike the 270, but the administration is every bit as captivating.
The 270 starts at £22,995 and the 360 costs £26,995, ascent to £29,995 for the 420. The S backpack will amount an added £2,995, while the R kit adds addition £3,995 to the account price.
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