The Seven is a small car that casts a big shadow. Can Caterham step outside with a new model?
Among the myriad niche sportscar companies in England, Caterham would hardly rank as the most advanced. But that could change in the near future as the company plans an all-new model. Caterham primarily builds "continuation" examples of the iconic Lotus Seven, and has made a tidy business of doing just that. The last time it tried something different, the resulting Caterham 21 was a disaster. The company recently teamed up with Lola to build the SP/300.R track car, but the new project could prove decidedly more user-friendly.
Around the same time that Lotus sacked its CEO Dany Behar, so did Caterham with its longtime managing director Ansar Ali. Now the company is in the hands of Graham Macdonald, who moved up to the top post from his previous position as chief financial officer. And Macdonald, according to the latest reports from the UK, seems keen to pick up where his predecessor left off. So what has Caterham got in store? A front-engined, rear-drive sportscar with a curb weight pegged at less than 1,000 kg. It's likely to include fenders where the Seven does not, and is tipped to be built around a monocoque tub in the style of today's most extreme supercars.
Although a six-cylinder engine hasn't been ruled out, a four-banger looks more likely, with the possible boost of a supercharger. The report from British car blog PistonHeads suggests a price tag between £40,000 and £50,000. That would put the new Caterham in the same range as the Porsche Cayman S (above the Boxster and below the 911) and the Lotus Evora (but more expensive than the Elise and Exige). That is a dangerous territory indeed, so if Caterham hopes to make a go of it, it had better get it right.