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Caterham Seven 170

The independent definitive Caterham Seven 170 video review
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    MAKING LIGHT WORK (some text hidden)

    By Jonathan Crouch

    Although 84bhp doesn't sound that exciting in a world where that's barely enough to power a small hatch, the Caterham Seven 170 shows that working smarter rather than harder is the way forward. Jonathan Crouch reports

    Ten Second Reviewword count: 61

    The Caterham Seven is an anachronism right? Wrong. With 'just' 84bhp to play with, this Suzuki-engined Seven 170 produces performance figures that would scare a really quick hot hatch, yet is affordable, economical and as environmentally sound as any EV or Hybrid. So much for the view that it's behind the curve. Maybe all sports cars should be built this way.

    Backgroundword count: 151

    A resolutely modern Caterham: it's a very different thing from a resolutely modern sports car - but in its own way, maybe that bit better. There's nothing quite like a Caterham Seven and for years, the entry point to the range was the brand's most affordable 160 model. Now though, that's been superseded by this rather different variant, the 170. Its maker says that it's a distillation of everything the brand stands for in delivering accessible, simple, light-weight sports cars: we'll see. Caterham has long believed in the credo of efficiency and effectiveness through light weight and simplicity and this 170 model, powered by a tiny Suzuki engine, shows that this philosophy never really gets old. Although you've got just 84bhp to play with, this car is quicker than plenty of hot hatches, while being way more economical and greener. Plus it offers a superior power to weight ratio. Sounds intriguing.

    Driving Experienceword count: 284

    If you've never driven a Caterham before, it can initially feel a little overwhelming. Compared to the rather synthetic feel of many sports cars, the Seven experience is rather more organic. Turn the saucer-sized steering wheel and you can see the front wheels respond behind their cycle mudguards. Hit a bump and you'll see the suspension at work. Drive down a country lane at 40mph and it'll seem as if you're about to make the jump to light speed. You'll emerge, juiced and with slightly shaky hands wondering how such a full-strength adrenaline hit can still be legal. But will the proper Seven experience be retained with an engine up-front just 660cc in size? If the car it's bolted to is light enough, yes. Holding true to the mantra that spawned the original Seven, to 'simplify and add lightness', the Seven 170 weighs a little over 440kg, which in part, is thanks to lightness of its turbocharged Suzuki powerplant. Ok, it only produces 84bhp and 116nm of torque, but there's a rorty engine note and because of the feather-light kerb weight, there's an impressive power-to-weight ratio in excess of 170bhp-per-tonne. Which means that the 0-62mph sprint can be achieved in just 6.9 seconds and top speeds can exceed 100mph, though you'd have to be brave to manage that. Complementing the 170's favourable power-to-weight ratio is its marrying of a 155-section tyre and live rear axle suspension, which should enable drivers of most capabilities to extract the full potential from this Caterham's mechanical configuration. Everything else is pure Seven. The steering is weighty but communicative and the brakes have the ability to hang you off your belt. Traction control? That's down to your right foot.

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    Pictures (high res disabled)

    Statistics (subset of data only)

    Min

    Max

    Price:

    £24,995.00 (At 24 Jun 2022)

    CO2 (g/km):

    109

    Max Speed (mph):

    100

    0-62 mph (s):

    6.9

    Length (mm):

    3100

    Width (mm):

    1575

    Height (mm):

    1090

    Scoring (subset of scores)

    Category: Convertibles

    Performance
    80%
    Handling
    90%
    Comfort
    30%
    Space
    20%
    Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

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