Not so long ago, a bike-engined Caterham Seven would imply the 170bhp CBR1100-engined Blackbird or 128bhp Fireblade, but that was then, and now in 2013 a 660cc three-cylinder turbocharged Suzuki engine will be used to power the least powerful entry-level Seven.
The new car, powered by the smallest and most efficient engine ever installed in a Seven, will be priced from £17,000 when it’s launched in Autumn this year. First deliveries are expected before the end of 2013.
Power output remains a closely-guarded secret – it’s been designed for maximum weight-saving, efficiency and fun – so set aside those images of a Superlight rival and remember that it runs on skinny tyres and is intended to deliver “accessible fun”.
Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: “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.
“Suzuki is a leader in producing compact vehicles with extremely efficient engines and that is clearly a shared passion. We needed a particularly light powertrain but it had to be a unit that suited the characteristics inherent to all Sevens – thankfully, after lots of hard work, we have a package that works brilliantly.
“Our intention for this car is to offer the joy of the Seven in distilled form, so the new entry-level car is lighter, cheaper, more economical and more accessible than ever.”
The ultra-efficient, downsized engine matched with an equally compact Suzuki five-speed gearbox, has been adapted by Caterham Technology & Innovation (CTI) – Caterham Group’s engineering division – to complement a re-engineered chassis, which also harks back to the spirit of former Sevens with major revisions to the suspension layout.
Macdonald added “Unfussy and easy to run, it is designed to give a neutral, supple ride yet carrying the sporting edge and turn-of-speed expected from any Seven. For a sportscar at this price point, it delivers on many fronts and we cannot wait to open the order book.”
Once the team have undertaken testing (away from the dyno) they’ll publish details of its power, performance and fuel consumption.
The all-new Suzuki-powered Seven will be showcased at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event at Millbrook Proving Ground on 4th & 5th September, before making its motor show debut at Frankfurt.