Buyers of the Caterham 7 have a bemusing choice of engines and power outputs. All engines are four-cylinder units. The entry-level model is a 100bhp 1.6, which is plenty in a car that weighs no more than 550kg. The most outrageous has a whopping 230bhp, providing acceleration only motorcyclists will understand.
Caterham has long been known for building cars that thrill with their sensitive handling balance and amazing grip, despite using many mundane components in their construction. However, there's little weight over the rear wheels, which means grip can be in short supply in the wet. The ride is firm, but not as bad as you might think.
If you're after refinement, you should not be shopping here. This is motoring at its most raw, and driver and passenger will have to put up with engine and wind noise, although at least these drown out the road roar. Put the tent-like hood up and things only get worse as the wind whips through the many gaps in the fabric.
A Caterham 7 may not be the most practical proposition for everyday driving, but the huge demand and limited number of cars available mean both new and used cars hang onto their value incredibly well. The more expensive models do depreciate, as their appeal is more limited.
Caterham 7s need looking after and can deteriorate quickly if neglected. Reliability is not a real problem because the engines are well tested and robust, although the more powerful cars need careful servicing.
Caterham does not fit or offer any airbags in the 7, and the only traction control is the driver's right foot. It also does without anti-lock brakes. Security is the same story, so be careful where you park.
There's not much to look at in the cabin of a Caterham 7. A few dials, a steering wheel, pedals and a gearlever. Most versions are also very cramped for taller owners or those broad in the beam, but there is a long cockpit option which should improve matters.
Space is at a premium in the Caterham because there is no boot and nowhere else to put luggage unless you strap a case to the spare wheel at the back. In fact, the cabin does not even have a glovebox. So, you have to be very determined to use a 7 as everyday transport.
For a long list of luxuries and electrical gadgets in your car, look elsewhere because the 7 is motoring pared to the bone. What you do get is all the essentials to take you as close as possible to the perfect match of driver and car. At least there's a hood to keep the rain off.
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The Classic is the most accessible Seven, but it's just a little too spartan to be an everyday sports car. It also won't have the best residual value. By the time you've spent money on desirable options, you might want to consider the next model up.