Caterham Seven 160 (2013) first official pictures

Published: 22 October 2013

In an era when we’re all crying out for lighter, less complicated, more fuel efficient cars (at a moderately affordable price) here’s the model enthusiasts have surely been waiting for: the new Caterham Seven 160.

Despite developing just 80bhp from its turbocharged 660cc Suzuki engine, the Seven 160 will scamper to 60mph in just 6.5sec. Read on for the full spec of this hero of downsizing.

Tell me more about the Caterham Seven 160’s engine

It’s only a three-cylinder mill, boosted by a turbocharger to take output from the original Suzuki-spec 64bhp to 80bhp at 7000rpm, with 79lb ft of torque on stream from 3400rpm. Not big numbers, but neither’s the critical mass. Caterham quotes a 490kg kerbweight with no liquids on board the car, but even with a grinning driver and vital fluids included, the 160 should still be a real giggle to drive. The top speed is a claimed 100mph – plenty in a Caterham. And then there’s the potential for more than 50mpg!

Are the dynamics back-to-basics too?

Yes, and that’s fine by us. Saving weight (and money) underneath the 160 is a live rear-axle set-up, which has been chosen for its resemblance to the damping fitted to the original Lotus Sevens of the 1950s. It’s even been tuned to replicate the old car’s benign but playful nature.

We’re used to seeing fat, sticky track day rubber hanging off the side of hardcore Caterhams like the 620R, but the 160 instead uses skinny 155-section rubber on 14in steel wheels. The transmission is a five-speed manual, with no option of a racing sequential ’box. Praise be: Caterham is adamant that the 160 has been designed for ‘handling finesse rather than outright performance.’

>> Click here for the full story on Caterham’s hardcore AeroSeven concept

Can I build a Caterham 160 myself?

Yes – if you live in the UK. It’s factory-built only if you want a left-hand drive European mainland model, which is badged ‘165’ on account of meeting EU5 emissions legislation. The British 160 and European 165 will boast identical performance though, a Caterham spokesman confirmed to CAR.

The 160 is estimated to take around 80 man-hours to construct yourself – save a few minutes by picking the aero screen option (an option on UK cars) and you won’t have to worry about nailing on the windscreen…

How much does the Caterham Seven 160 cost?

If you’re building one yourself, the kit will set you back a very reasonable £14,995. Opt for the professionals to do the dirty work for you and it’s more expensive: £17,995 is the fully-built price tag, and you can order your very own from today. So, for a fiver under £18k, it’s one of these or a Ford Fiesta ST…

>> Is Caterham onto a winner with its £15k, back-to-basics Seven 160? Add your thoughts in the comments below

By Ollie Kew

Former road tester and staff writer of this parish