Caterham has been around for a while now – 60 years in fact – and to celebrate, the sports car maker has created this – the Seven Sprint. Epitomising founder Colin Chapman’s ideas of a lightweight, good to drive two-seater, the Sprint happily flaunts its retro looks. Underneath the bonnet sits a small 660cc three-cylinder turbocharged motor from Suzuki. This may not sound like much, but given the Sprint’s low weight of 490kg, it’s more than enough to get it up to speed in a brisk enough time.
Looks and image
It’s hard not to love the look of the Seven Sprint. The exterior has been tastefully finished, with touches such as the traditional metal model badges at the rear and the crème alloy wheels giving it a distinctly retro appeal. Inside, it’s just as pretty, with comfortable sports seats trimmed in red leather and a thin moto-lita steering wheel transporting you back to the early days of Caterham. It’s all very well executed, however – it feels every bit of its £27,995 price tag.
All of the dials are clear and easy to read, and the toggle switches for the headlamps have a refreshing amount of robustness to them. The handmade quality of the Sprint is hard to ignore, and it’s something buyers will no doubt appreciate too.
Space and practicality
I think a brisk 100 miles in a Caterham is about the best breakfast you can have pic.twitter.com/qZtSGOqMe1
— Jack R W Evans (@jackrober) April 5, 2017
Caterhams aren’t exactly well-known for their practicality levels, and the Seven Sprint is, unsurprisingly, no different. There’s not even a glove box in this model, though you do get the added bonus of a 9V charging point. In all fairness, though, the area behind the rear seats is more than enough for a soft weekend bag or a few items of shopping, so taking the Sprint for a weekend away isn’t unimaginable.
Behind the wheel
You’d be hard-pressed not to wear a big grin when driving the Caterham Seven Sprint. It’s a truly refreshing driving experience, one without the distractions found in modern cars. The steering offers huge amounts of feedback, with each and every difference in road quality being translated through the steering wheel and into your hands. That said, this does mean that longer journeys can be tiring – though the Seven Sprint was never designed to be a long-distance commuter.
The five-speed gearbox is a delight to use, though it can be notchy when cold. The handling is sharp and nimble, while the narrow tyres fitted to all four wheels ensure that the Sprint is a lot of fun at even low speeds. Though Caterham creates cars that will easily reach 60mph in half the time that the Sprint does, you never feel like you’d want more power – the Sprint has just enough shove for all occasions.
Value for money
Yes, the £27,995 that the Seven Sprint is a fair amount of money. You don’t get much in the way of standard equipment, technology or even comfort, for that matter. However, what you do get is an all-encompassing experience, one which makes you wonder just why you need 18-way adjustable seats or radar-guided cruise control at all. In all fairness, some may not appreciate the car’s exposure to the elements nor its relatively unrefined character at motorway speeds, but the vast majority will enjoy the way it feels.
Who would buy one?
It’s safe to say that the Caterham Seven Sprint would suit those drivers who want a car to keep in the garage and wheel out on sunny Sunday afternoons for a leisurely drive through the country. However, it’d be just as well accustomed to daily driving. Yes, you’ll probably have to get a little more wrapped up than you would in a normal car, but it’s more than worth it. The overall experience is one you’ll want to have time and time again, which is why if you do choose a Caterham, it’s best to use it each and every day.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Caterham Seven Sprint
Engine tested: 660cc three-cylinder
Price as tested: £27,995
Max speed: 100mph
0-60mph: 6.3 seconds