2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Do you need more cars? The Caterham Seven 165 is reduced to the essentials, but you can still go to seventh heaven with it at full throttle, as our driving report shows.
Four wheels, two seats, an engine and a few sheets of aluminum - no one needs more cars. At least not if he wants to fly around corners quickly and in a sporty way. Nobody understood this better than Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus. Long before his engineers put the Elise on its wheels, he developed the Super Seven based on this principle in 1957 - a speeding cigar for the street and the racetrack, which was also available as a kit due to a few loopholes in British tax legislation.
Chapman soon lost interest in the sevens, and Lotus ceased production in the seventies. But thanks to companies like Caterham, the legend lives on: Although the car looks like it was yesterday and has changed little in the basic design apart from the constantly modernized engines, the Seven is still going full throttle to seventh heaven.
Steal the show from a Porsche
It doesn't take much for that in the open two-seater: Although the new entry-level model Seven 165 costs just 23,795 euros and has a ridiculous 80 hp, it steals the show from any Porsche. Not just because everyone's eyes are certain. But also because hardly any other car feels as direct, as immediate, as sporty as the hurried entry-level driver from England. No wonder, given a record-breaking curb weight of 490 kilos.
Incidentally, the British do not achieve this with carbon or other high-tech materials, but with a body made of aluminum and plastic over a frame made of mesh tubes and, above all, with a very simple virtue: renunciation. Because Caterham has simply saved itself from any luxury. It starts with trivialities such as the radio or the airbags and extends well below the engine cover - after all, the Seven 165, named after its power-to-weight ratio in "hp per ton", has a comparatively puny three-cylinder engine that comes with a rear axle and five-speed gearbox from Suzuki.
But in a car like this, even a bonsai engine with 660 cubic centimeters, 80 hp and 107 Nm of torque feels like a racing machine. If you accelerate from 0 to 100 in 6.9 seconds, you feel like you're at the wheel of a super sports car and the 161 km / h top speed feels like you're about to crack the sound barrier.
It doesn't have to be a test of courage
But you don't want to drive that fast anyway. Not because consumption would soar. On the test bench it is 4.9 liters and in practice, even with deliberate frenzy, it cannot be driven into double-digit ranges. But because everything over 100 things is like an unnecessary test of courage due to the lack of any electronics and a crumple zone of the perceived resistance of an egg carton. In addition, this car is not about the top speed, say the British, but about the feeling for the road, the fun in the corners and the connection between driver and vehicle, which could hardly be closer - no wonder, with this format.
It therefore takes a bit of courage and even more skill to handle the Seven. It starts as soon as you get in: you just walk over the low side skirts, but only gravity helps you into the seats with this dugout on wheels. The way to the pedals is reminiscent of trying to step through a pant leg with both feet at the same time. And once you have found your place, you are almost defenseless to the wind and the gaze of other road users.
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