Caterham deposes the Superlight R500 with new 311bhp 620R

Ahead of this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Caterham Cars has launched its most powerful ever Seven – the 620R. The king is dead, long live the king.

It replaces the Superlight R500, which has stood at the ‘bonkers’ end of the Seven range since 2008. At £42,495, the R500 was a weapons-grade sportscar, packing 263bhp and offering a power-to-weight ratio of 520bhp per tonne.

Now with the 620R, Caterham’s most outrageous Seven delivers 310bhp and more than 600bhp per tonne for just £49,995 – that’s in a similar ballpark to the new McLaren P1 and well above any ‘normal’ rival barring the V8-powered Ariel Atom 500.

SEE ALSO: Caterham Cars Exclusive: A look to the future.

The 620R uses a newly-engineered 2.0-litre supercharged Ford Duratec engine which takes it from 0-60mph in 2.79 seconds (R500 2.88 seconds) while reaching a top speed (if you dare) of 155mph.

Of course, we’ve seen this engine before, fitted in the still-born R600 race car – in that it offered 275bhp and 200lb-ft of torque, whereas the 602R raises the bar to 311bhp @ 7,700rpm and 219lb-ft @ 7,350rpm.

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Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: “The 620R is the most hardcore production Seven ever built for the road. The R500 claimed its place in motoring history as a benchmark for lightweight sportscar performance but this new vehicle pushes the boundaries even further.”

“While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this car for those inexperienced in driving Caterhams, we always ensure that even our fastest cars retain the manageable delivery of power that makes them accessible, despite the daunting statistics.”

A static version of the new 620R will feature on Caterham’s Festival of Speed stand, while Caterham F1 Team driver, Charles Pic and Caterham Racing GP2 driver, Alexander Rossi will drive the 620R up the famous Goodwood hill.

Caterham F1 Team reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes a Caterham 485S around the Nordschleife last weekend with NBC’s F1 correspondent, Will Buxton.

Despite the huge increase in performance, the 620R benefits from several new enhancements including a new De Dion rear suspension and wider track front suspension, complemented by high-performance dampers all round. To contain all this power it sits on lightweight, 13” alloy wheels fitted with track-inspired Avon ZZR tyres.

These dynamic upgrades are complemented by an air-flow optimised nose cone, race-developed cooling package and a unique gunmetal chassis. The cockpit has also been upgraded with more ergonomic switchgear, carbon fibre interior panels, carbon fibre race seats and a Q/R race steering wheel.

“The Seven 620R is an extreme piece of kit,” concludes Macdonald. “We know there is demand for cars that re-write the rules of performance and, if you’re brave enough to take it on, the 620R will be an enormously rewarding, fun car to pilot.”

SEE ALSO: Caterham sends the clearest message with its most simple entry-level Seven.

While the launch edition of the Seven 620 features the sportier ‘R’ pack, a slightly less hardcore ‘S’ pack, which harnesses all the power of the original but offers a little more accessibility.

The order books are now open, with first deliveries expected by the end of the year, while the 620S will be available to order later in the year.