Skip advert
Advertisement

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

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.

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.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Alfa Romeo 4C – the car world's greatest misses
Alfa Romeo 4C
Features

Alfa Romeo 4C – the car world's greatest misses

It had stunning looks and promising hardware, but somehow the 4C didn’t add up to the sum of its parts
20 Jun 2024
Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
Toyota GR Supra review – can it rival the Porsche 718 Cayman?
Toyota GR Supra 3.0 – front cornering
In-depth reviews

Toyota GR Supra review – can it rival the Porsche 718 Cayman?

A divisive but ultimately fascinating sports car that has its flaws, but fights back with charisma
3 Jun 2024
Litchfield BMW M2 2024 review: 640bhp tuned M2 tested
Litchfield BMW M2 – front
Reviews

Litchfield BMW M2 2024 review: 640bhp tuned M2 tested

Litchfield has given the BMW M2 more power than a Lamborghini Huracán – we try it on track
2 Jun 2024
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6
Porsche Cayenne GTS – front
Reviews

Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6

The new Cayenne model offensive continues with the introduction of the GTS, the sweet-spot in the line-up.
18 Jun 2024
Bugatti Tourbillon revealed – the 1775bhp, V16-engined Chiron successor is here
Bugatti Tourbillon – front
News

Bugatti Tourbillon revealed – the 1775bhp, V16-engined Chiron successor is here

With a naturally aspirated V16, a new carbon chassis and a 273mph top speed Bugatti’s latest hypercar has the GMA T.50 in its sights
20 Jun 2024