Caterham 7 150 Superlight

Harry's swapped cars with Henry, so it's his turn to drive the Caterham

So this is it then. Time to strap evo’s Caterham long-termer to my back and go for a drive. At least the weather is looking more promising than the last time I squeezed myself into one of these torture devices. That was back in October 2006, in the Highlands of Scotland, and, of course, it was pouring with rain at the time.

It was a memorable drive all right, but not for the best of reasons. It left me wondering why Caterham doesn’t fit an extra set of wipers to the inside of the windscreen to complement the ones on the outside – the rain certainly didn’t seem that fussed about which side it fell onto. Oh, and a bilge pump might have been handy, given how much water was sloshing around my ankles.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Today, though, the sun is shining and I’ve hijacked Henry’s Henri Lloyd offshore sailing coat for protection, so I’m ready to attack my favourite back-road route to the office. I reckon Henry – in tow in the Zonda – has the better deal, though. Come to think of it, how exactly did he get me to agree to this in the first place?

The first shock in the Caterham is its tiny steering wheel. I haven’t driven a car with a smaller wheel since my childhood pedal car! It instantly sets the tone: the Seven is a very different sort of driving device to any other car on the road.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The next surprise is how much travel the front suspension seems to have. The ride is actually quite good and I’m soon dialled-in to the brilliant front-end grip and making the most of the rev-tastic 150bhp motor. With the gear ratios so close you’re constantly up and down the ’box, the revs dipping just 600-700 revs between changes, but this suits the character of the car perfectly. You can sense precisely what grip the car can muster and, with such perfect vision and the car’s narrow track, there’s plenty of fun to be had stringing perfect lines through the corners.

The only disappointment for me is the engine in this 150 Superlight, for while it delivers plenty of go, the power delivery seems almost too linear. With such perfect steering response, brake feel and throttle action, what I really wanted was the challenge of a fiery top end to play with. Perhaps I’m being fussy, but if I’m going to put up with this much compromise in a car then I want to make sure it’s worth the effort.

I enjoyed my brief drive in the Seven much more than I thought I would, but the drive back home that evening in the Zonda was yet another stunner. If the point of this test was to prove that a Caterham can deliver the same driving thrills as a Zonda then I’m afraid it failed. It’s good, the Seven, but it’ll never be that good.

Running Costs

Date acquiredDecember 2007
Total mileage9950
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month471
MPG this month27.1
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m4/22869/new-2020-bmw-m4-throws-off-more-disguise-ahead-of-reveal
BMW M4

New 2020 BMW M4 throws off more disguise ahead of reveal

BMW’s next M4 coupe promises much, but will it deliver? Here’s everything we know so far
7 Aug 2020
Visit/bugatti/21646/new-bugatti-divo-deliveries-begin-ps44m-hypercar-hits-the-road
Bugatti

New Bugatti Divo deliveries begin - £4.4m hypercar hits the road

The very first examples of Bugatti’s Divo hypercar have rolled out of its Molsheim HQ gates
7 Aug 2020
Visit/best-cars/15315/best-cars-to-buy-for-ps20000-evo-garage
Best cars

Best cars to buy for £20,000 – evo garage

The evo team pick their favourite used performance cars
4 Aug 2020
Visit/ferrari/202965/ferrari-f40-vs-288-gto-turbocharged-icons-go-head-to-head
Ferrari

Ferrari F40 vs 288 GTO - turbocharged icons go head-to-head

Today's turbocharged Ferraris deliver a smooth hit; the 288 GTO and F40 thrilled with a much wilder ride 
5 Aug 2020