Caterham Seven Open full 9 point review
A car that weighs around 500kg (about half the weight of a Ford Fiesta) understandably feels rapid no matter what engine you put in it, even the entry-level 105bhp 1.4-litre petrol. Put your foot down, and the acceleration is instantaneous and strong.
Ride & Handling
The Caterham’s steering is packed with genuine mechanical feel and is very responsive indeed – every movement of the wheel results in an instant change of direction. The lightweight nature of the car, and the fact the rear wheels are the driven ones, means the back end will start sliding easily in the wet. The ride is hard even on the road-focused models, while hardcore track versions are even more uncomfortable.
The roof is nothing more than a piece of canvas held on with poppers, so it does little to keep noise out if you leave it on. In fact, the wind rippling the canvas actually makes more noise. Going roofless means there’s plenty of racket, and the exhaust sits just under your right elbow so you hear almost every acceleration input. That said, it’s a brilliant soundtrack when you’re in the mood for fun.
Buying & Owning
There are few enough Caterhams around to maintain used values at a decent level, although the more powerful ones are less popular so are less likely to hold their value as well. The lightweight stature and relatively small engines mean that fuel economy isn’t half bad for a sports car.
Quality & Reliability
As a hand-built car, the Caterham is not finished to the same high standards as mass-produced rivals, with the odd rough spot apparent on the interior. The car will need careful looking-after as well, although most of the engines are tried and tested units from Ford.
Safety & Security
As there are no doors to talk of, and no lockable boot, there is no way of stowing anything away securely in a Seven. However, security is provided in the form of an immobiliser and a removable steering wheel. A harness will keep you in the car securely, but there is no safety kit (other than a roll cage on higher models) to protect you in a crash. Traction control, ABS and ESP are all absent.
Behind The Wheel
A Caterham is not for everyone – if you are too tall or too broad, then getting behind the wheel at all is likely to be tricky, if not impossible. There’s very little space in the footwell and the seat adjustment is minimal. For those of the right shape, the driving position and visibility is very good, though.
Space & Practicality
The two-seat cabin is decidedly snug, and you get no space for storing trinkets. There’s no real boot, either. There is a small storage space behind the seats, but calling it small is being kind, and you’ll have to fit anything you put in it under the canvas cover. This is not a car for a weekend away.
There is little in the way of luxury or entertainment in the Seven – a heater is not even offered as standard on all models. The idea is that all you need to have fun is the car itself, and we’d agree.