Rickitt’s Rides – The Caterham Seven 360

Adam Rickitt Adam Rickitt

In the third of his popular monthly motoring reviews, Hollyoaks’ star, Adam Rickitt, test drives …….

The Caterham Seven 360

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Fact File

Caterham Seven 360.    Price: £29,990

0-60: 4.8 seconds.    Top speed: 130mph

Power: 180bhp Ford Duratec 1999c.    Weight 560kg

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Does this legend of the track still have a place on our roads?

Styling

First launched back in 1973 the Caterham is based on the classic Series 3 Lotus 7.

Over the years there has been a styling tweak here and a tweak there, but in truth only a pipe smoking obsessive enthusiast would notice.

That said though, the car has a real historic feel to it, wonderfully removed from the modern air tunnel designed sports car, and from the moment you see it you know it has been designed for one reason only…racing!

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Most surprising was how comfortable the car is.

Yes, it’s the first time I’ve driven a car where the sales team has to show you how to actually get in it. Truth be told, take up Yoga and don’t wear skinny jeans if you want to maintain any semblance of modesty.

As you’d expect with such a stripped-down racer, there isn’t much luxury to go around. The heater is like having an asthmatic 90-year-old wheeze on you….no radio….no windows…no door handles…and a steering wheel the size of something removed from your kid’s push car.

That said, the seats are comfy, and you are cocooned in place with everything laid out perfectly to enable minimum disruption when you crank the revs.

Handling

Let’s be honest, this is why you buy this car.

In some respects, I picked the best and worst conditions for my test. The day I picked it up we were deluged with monsoons only a British summer can offer.

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Driving the car in the wet was frankly petrifying. Getting off the line involved a prayer to the gods of motoring and constant apologies to fellow motorists, as wheel spin and a wayward rear end greeted every green light.

Even at 60mph, wheel spin still kicked in with every gear change, so that by the time you arrived you felt worthy of a medal for bravery in the face of adversity.

That’s not to say it wasn’t fun testing it to the limits though!  

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Can you fit your wife in the boot? Well, there isn’t a boot! So, on this occasion, Katy had to find something else to do. 

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Even more so on day two when the weather broke, and the road dried up. Suddenly this car began to make real sense.

In an era of bloated luxury sports cars, this stripped back racer clung to the road in every corner no matter how far you pushed it.

Like a greyhound stung by a bee, it darts in and out of traffic, and despite what the seemingly tame 0-60 might say, the sense of speed it delivers is unlike anything else on the road today.

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Verdict

The Good – Being based so much on the fundamentals of speed, namely lightness, the car is a maniac to drive.

The speed and handling are undeniable, and given space in the road, and even a sliver of sunshine, more fun than you will have in any other car on the market today.

The Bad – You drive this car for the fun factor, so don’t expect the luxury even a humble Ford Fiesta would provide. But then, if that’s your main criteria, you wouldn’t have even read this far in the article!

Conclusion

I have always been a bit dubious of ‘Track Day’ cars; the idea of spending tens of thousands on a car just to drive it around a racetrack once a year.

In the Caterham though I now understand it.

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Never in my life have I craved so much an open road, free of other cars, traffic lights and speed cameras.

The Caterham is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to be driven to the limits. Trust me.

Though you will enjoy every second, and if you can’t wait for a day at Oulton Park, I guarantee you will find yourself setting your alarm clock for 2am so traffic free runs will enable you to drive this car the way it should be enjoyed….at full throttle!

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