From Lotus Seven to Caterham Seven - the lightweight legend turns 60 - Caterham Seven CSR

We drive a range of Sevens, from an early Series 1 Lotus to modern Caterhams

Caterham Seven CSR

The CSR might look like an ordinary Seven, but underneath there are some dramatic changes. It has a steel tubular spaceframe chassis that incorporates the dash, centre console and transmission tunnel to make it ultra stiff. The de Dion rear axle of the previously most sophisticated Sevens has been ditched for a double-wishbone set-up, while at the front there’s in-board pushrod-actuated suspension.

Despite such a fundamental change to the Seven’s underpinnings, and even though the new chassis makes the interior looks significantly different, initially the CSR feels very much like an ordinary Caterham.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

Much of that is thanks to the 2.3-litre four-cylinder Cosworth-developed Ford Duratec motor. It’s a proper Seven-style engine, a highly-strung four-pot with a fast idle and a growly induction tone when you touch the throttle.

It responds to throttle inputs in the same way you expect a Seven to, as well. Every twitch of your right foot has you launching forward and the engine’s noise builds to an angry throaty scream until you snatch another gear with the short, direct gear stick. So far, so Seven.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

But as soon as you tip it into a corner, it feels remarkably different. There’s none of the pronounced pivoting effect you get from traditional Sevens as the outside rear tyre just about stays stuck to the tarmac. Instead, the CSR is much more grown-up, diving under brakes and rolling gently as you turn in.

As you accelerate there’s significantly more understeer than in the traditional Sevens; that’s not because there isn’t sufficient front end grip, it’s that the rear is grippier and you don’t get the same yaw effect that the less sophisticated rear axles of the older Sevens do as you pile on the revs. As such, much of what makes newer Caterhams so appealing – that they’re the complete antithesis of the super sophisticated modern cars that are also on sale – is lost and the CSR feels like a more conventional car.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/koenigsegg/202316/1700bhp-koenigsegg-gemera-four-seat-gt-shown-in-new-images
Koenigsegg

1700bhp Koenigsegg Gemera four-seat GT shown in new images

A mid-engined, plug-in hybrid two-door four seater is Koenigsegg’s vision of the ultimate GT
9 Apr 2020
Visit/saloons/202421/supersaloon-face-off-old-vs-new
Saloons

BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Visit/honda/nsx/202424/honda-nsx-review-enough-to-take-on-its-european-rivals
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019