SMMT Millbrook 2015 : British newcomers tested : Caterham 360R

James Godwin:

So why is a Caterham Seven like a Bentley? Having driven both cars at the SMMT press day at Millbrook in one day it dawned on me that they have one thing in common – Focus.

This is one of Caterham’s latest Sevens, from a range available in five flavours, all named to reflect their power to weight ratios. My 180bhp Porsche GT3 green example weighed half a tonne, hence the 360 nameplate. It sits between the Suzuki three-cylinder engine 80bhp 160, the 270, the 420 and the 311bhp 620R. So basically a new range of trims and rejigged engines. Same old bodystyle.

Caterham Seven 360R ext

Steering wheel off, step on seat, swivel around and lower myself in. Wheel on. Legs straight, with left patella rubbing against the warm transmission tunnel. Left elbow on handbrake fulcrum, right elbow unsupported but allowing hand to hover over the unlabeled switches. I know the indicator toggle and British Leyland switches well enough though. Packed with added R, mine included a limited slip diff, uprated brakes and suspension, a lighter flywheel and race seats with harness.

Caterham Seven 360R

The wheel’s petite 28cm diameter (just shorter than the 30cm ruler that wouldn’t fit in your school pencil case) and 1.93 unassisted turns lock-to-lock is all that’s needed to direct the 360. No arm twirling is required and the steering is hardly heavy.

Parp. Woosh. Shunt. Click. Prevailing throttle cackle. Non-overdrive top gear driveline shunt. Pinsharp turn-in. Sat-above-the-rear-wheel speed-hump grumpiness. Great fun.

As it stands this is a £24k track day car (£27k should you want it built for you), and one so focused that it would sit in a collection of other cars, bikes, boats and planes. And the odd yacht. It’s fit for purpose and purposely fit for a dry day on the track. I’d have one, as my fifth car you know….

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