Caterham AeroSeven Concept

September 20, 2013
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Caterham AeroSeven Concept

Caterham AeroSeven Concept

Caterham Cars is calling it the Caterham AeroSeven Concept, a first glimpse of an all-new roadcar due to arrive next year, and under the slightly over-liberal use of green paint, hints of the styling direction for the sportscar being developed with Renault, due for release in 2016.

This is big news. Because although the basic philosophy remains comfortingly familiar – light, involving, deeply obsessed with power-to-weight – the Caterham AeroSeven features lots of things you don’t usually associate with a Caterham. Like 21st century technology.

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Caterham AeroSeven Concept

The Caterham AeroSeven may be based on the current CSR platform, but employs the black art of aerodynamics to produce actual downforce – previously only encountered on a traditional Seven if someone sat on one. Suspension is fully-independent at the back, and F1-ish inboard pushrods at the front, with bespoke springs and dampers to cope with the fact the body isn’t just a wrapper to keep the rain off the oily bits anymore.

There’s traction control, featuring a launch control function, and actual ABS braking. More than that, the steering wheel will operate much like an F1 helm, adjusting throttle maps and the ‘Pit Lane speed limiter’ – always a bonus at drive-through restaurants. There’ll be a new ‘graphical display unit’ or GDU, developed by Caterham Technology and Innovation, to throw up data on gears, revs, speed, fluid levels and temperatures and all the associated numbers that you might find useful. One gets the impression that the Caterham AeroSeven might be a bit biased to the track-day enthusiast though: the default throttle map is ‘Race’ – you have to select ‘Road’ specifically from the wheel-mounted button.

Caterham AeroSeven Concept

The hardware under the newly-swoopy bonnet is slightly less news-worthy, the proven 237bhp, 2.0-litre four-pot Ford Duratec mated to a six-speed manual driving the – you guessed it – rear wheels. Fast? The numbers add up to a car that should hit 62mph in around four, with 150mph capability. But as ever with Caterham, don’t rule out options for transplants, not least because Caterham recently signed a deal with Suzuki to use its three-cylinder turbo in future cars. Which would make the Caterham AeroSeven, or its spawn, even lighter.

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Caterham AeroSeven Concept

There is, however, a bigger story behind the Caterham AeroSeven. Because since 27th April 2011, when Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes bought the company, Caterham Cars has been quietly gearing up for change. It’s had to, to be honest. It’s been forty years since Caterham Car’s founder Graham Nearn first snapped up the rights to Colin Chapman’s Lotus 7. Forty years in which the Caterham Seven has become something of an icon for those who prefer their sportscars light and direct, simple and unfettered. And forty years in which the Seven has remained largely unchanged, a tubular spaceframe with an aluminium body, unencumbered by the fat and flab of modern legislation.

Click here to order your new Caterham AeroSeven Concept rival with a brand new Renault 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and direct fuel injection for only US$9,500.

Caterham AeroSeven Concept

There have been mutterings of modernity: the mid ‘90s saw the Caterham 21, a full bodied, more comfortable Caterham, but a slow sales start and the contemporary Lotus Elise saw to it that only 48 examples ever made it to the road. The Seven itself has spawned variant after variant, from wide-bodied SVs to fantastically-scary R500s, cars that reminded us how isolating modern sportscars can be. Vivid, raw, uncompromising cars. But variations on a narrow theme nonetheless, and cars that harked back to another time, stuck in a bit of a timewarp.

Caterham AeroSeven Concept dash

Flick back to 2015, and Caterham has an F1 team, a ‘Technology and Innovation’ arm and a composites facility, as well as the factory itself in Dartford, Kent. Deals have been done with Suzuki for that 660cc turbo engine to produce the cheapest (sub £17k) Seven ever, and Renault and Caterham have joined forces to create a joint venture, the ‘Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham’, based at Renault’s Alpine plant in Dieppe, to revitalize the Alpine brand.

Caterham AeroSeven Concept dash

The big boys have resolutely got involved with what was a fairly small-scale UK company. Renault’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn said partnering with Caterham would help “realise our long-held ambition of creating a sports vehicle with the Alpine DNA” and with his title of Caterham Group chairman, Tony Fernandes said the deal should help transform Caterham from a “well respected niche brand into a serious player on the motoring map”.

Click here to order your new Caterham AeroSeven Concept rival with a brand new Renault 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and direct fuel injection for only US$9,500.

Caterham AeroSeven Concept front

And you know what? It might just do that. New cars, new thinking, big plans. Caterham, it turns out, is just as much a born survivor as the cars it produces. Fingers crossed


CSR 200/260
Caterham CSR260.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer Caterham Cars Ltd
Powertrain
Engine 2.3 litre inline four Ford Duratec tuned by Cosworth; 200 or 260 bhp (190 kW)
Transmission Standard 5-speed (200 model), Custom Caterham close ratio 6-speed (260 model)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,315 mm (91.1 in)
Length 3,300 mm (130 in)
Width 1,685 mm (66.3 in)
Height 1,015 mm (40.0 in) (hood down), 1,140 mm (45 in) (hood up)
Kerb weight 575 kg (1268 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor Caterham SV

Package 1
Aggregate Rating
4 based on 2 votes
Brand Name
Caterham AeroSeven Concept Rival
Product Name
Caterham AeroSeven Concept rival with a brand new Renault 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and direct fuel injection for only US$9,500.
Price
USD $9,500

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