Just recently, Caterham confirmed its desire to become more mainstream by producing traditional sports cars, SUVs and even city cars, thanks in part to its new collaboration with Renault. This doesn’t mean that Caterham will give up on its roots of producing lightweight, small-displacement-engine vehicles built specifically for track use. This is made evident, as the British auto firm has just announced an all-new variant to its Seven lineup. This new variant is dubbed the Seven Supersport R.
The Supersport R takes what Caterham has done with the Supersport and straps 25 percent more power to it, making it one of the most impressive models in its lineup. Caterham boss, Graham Macdonald, had glowing compliments about the Supersport R, as he said: “The performance of the car is very impressive but, teamed with the accessibility of the suspension specification that works so effortlessly on the road and track on the base model, it is well-balanced, satisfying and fun in terms of the driving experience it offers.”
While Macdonald’s comments are striking, he does have just a little bit of a bias when it comes to the Supersport R, so let’s have a look at it and see if it is all Macdonald says it is.
Click past the jump to read our full review of the Caterham Seven Supersport R
Exterior and Interior
On the outside and inside, the Supersport R is exactly what you would expect of a Seven-based racecar, as it is very simple and uses only the components required to make it track worthy. Helping keep the body as light as possible, Caterham installed a composite aero windshield, and custom-built half doors, tunnel top and boot cover.
On the inside you get a set of composite racing seats and a custom-built dashboard. This lightweight interior combined with the minimalist exterior helps keep the Supersport R’s base weight to a svelte 535 kg (1,179 pounds).
You can opt for a carbon-fiber dash board, rear wings and nose cone to help lower the base weight a little. Also optional on the body is an SV chassis, which is slightly wider for better grip. On the inside, you can also toss in a set of leather adjustable seats for added comfort while you tear up the racetrack. A set of optional 4-point racing harnesses help keep you in compliance with varying racing series and a Momo quick-release steering wheel helps the driver get in and out of the cramped cabin a little easier.
Engine and Drivetrain
Under the Caterham Seven Supersport R’s hood is a 2.0-liter Ford Duratec engine that pumps out 180 horsepower at 7,300 rpm and 143 pound-feet of torque at 6,100 rpm. That may not sound like much, but when you consider its light weight puts it at an incredible 2.92 kg (6.43 pounds) per horsepower, you can tell this is bound to be one incredible machine.
Once you link this engine up to the Caterham 5-speed gearbox and drive the power to the rear wheels via its limited-slip differential, you get a car that rockets to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and hits a top speed of 130 mph. Sure, those aren’t supercar numbers, but the Caterham lineup is designed to take on other lightweight, small-displacement-engine vehicles, not Ferraris and Lambos.
To help increase its performance, Caterham offers up an optional 6-speed gearbox, large-diameter muffler and an interim catalytic converter bypass pipe. The bypass pipe itself should be enough for a few ponies.
Engine and Drivetrain Specifications:
|Engine|| 2.0-Liter Ford Duratec Four-Cylinder |
|Horsepower|| 180 Horsepower at 7,300 rpm |
|Torque|| 143 Pound-Feet of Torque at 6,100 rpm |
|Transmission|| 5-Speed Manual (Standard) or 6-Speed Manual (Optional) |
|Drive Style|| Rear-Wheel Drive |
|Acceleration (0-60 mph)|| 4.8 Seconds |
|Top Speed|| 130 mph |
Optional Drivetrain Add-On Equipment:
- Large Diameter Muffler (No Cost)
- Temporary Catalyst Bypass Pipe
Suspension and Braking
One of the focal points of Caterham’s racecars is to make them handle impeccably, and the Supersport R is definitely equipped to do so. On the rear corners, it has a De-Dion suspension setup with race dampers and on the front end it features a wide-track, adjustable double-wishbone suspension setup with another set of racing dampers.
Also on the corners are alloy wheels helping keep its unsprung weight as low as possible — lower unsprung weight ultimately leads to better handling. Wrapped around these lightweight rims are super-sticky CR500 racing tires, which keep the Supersport R adhered to the tarmac with great effectiveness. To the inside of each wheel is a disc brake setup to help drag the Seven Supersport R to a halt. You can opt for a set of ventilated front discs with 4-piston calipers for a little extra braking power.
Suspension and Braking Specifications:
|Front Suspension|| Wide-Track, Adjustable Double-Wishbone W/ Racing Dampers |
|Rear Suspension|| De-Dion Setup W/ Race Dampers |
|Brakes|| Four-Wheel Disc |
Pricing and Release Date
Another thing that Caterham prides itself in is providing these sorts of racecars at relatively bargain-basement pricing. The Seven Supersport R is no exception, as it comes in at just £24,995 ($39,854 at the current exchange rates), if you want to build it yourself, or £27,995 ($44,638), if you want Caterham to build it for you.
From what we can tell, the Seven Supersport R is currently available for purchase.
|Self Built|| £24,995 ($39,854) |
|Fully Assembled|| £27,995 ($44,638) |
The only true competitor to the Caterham Seven Supersport R is the KTM X-Bow “Clubsport.” The X-Bow has the same focus as the Seven Supersport – lightweight and low displacement – but the X-Bow “Clubsport” takes it a bit farther, by dropping a 177 kW (240-horsepower) Audi 2.0-liter engine in its super-light body. While we do not know the precise track specifications – 0-to-60 time, top speed, etc. – we can only assume that it is a tick faster than the Caterham, particularly in top speed. However, the Caterham does have one huge advantage over the KTM X-Bow, and that is the fact that the X-Bow “Clubsport” carries a base price of €67,188 (£53,569 or $85,415 at current exchange rates). That makes it nearly double the price of the Caterham, which is a huge deterrent for new racers looking for a car to start off with.
With Caterham well entrenched into the world of lightweight racing, you can rest assured that any model it introduces is ready to go and high-quality. KTM, on the other hand, is still finding its foothold in the racing realm, so you may find yourself with a faster, but lower quality, racecar. Remember, we are stressing the “may” part of that statement, as we have not had any seat time in either car yet.
We suggest testing both and really figuring out what you need in a racecar before making a final choice. Either one is a great car, but the KTM’s price just throws us a bit of a curveball.
Only 535 kg
More powerful than the Supersport and R 300
Sub-5-second 0-to-60 sprint
Still underpowered when compared to the X-Bow
The Seven’s body is really getting dated
The options could be very expensive
CATERHAM ADDS TO SEVEN RANGE WITH SUPERSPORT R
Caterham has added to its iconic range of Sevens, giving the acclaimed Supersport a steroid-induced brother – the two-litre Supersport R, which packs 180bhp and track-bred dynamics.
Like the standard Supersport, the new edition has many circuit-orientated performance essentials, but gains a bigger engine and a five-speed gearbox to boost outright performance significantly.
Designed to sit immediately above its 1.6-litre sibling in the Seven range, the new adaptation’s 2-litre Ford Duratec engine has proven its durability and performance on the track, having been developed during three years in Caterham’s R300 race championship.
Competitively priced at £24,995 (incl tax) in self-build form or £27,995 fully-built, the new model benefits particularly in mid-range ‘punch’ and features a 25% power increase on the Supersport, as well as 5bhp more than the R300 road car.
Caterham Cars announced a bold new joint venture engineering partnership this week with Renault, which will result in a range of brand new vehicles, starting with an ambitious ‘everyday’ sportscar that will deliver the brand’s ‘accessible fun’ philosophy to new markets. But the Supersport R shows the firm’s continuing commitment to develop the iconic Seven, which it has been engineering and building for nearly 40 years.
Caterham Cars’ Chief Executive, Graham Macdonald, said: “The Supersport’s formula has struck a chord with driving enthusiasts and we are confident that, by extending the range to include an R model, we will be able to build on the original’s success.
“The performance of the car is very impressive but, teamed with the accessibility of the suspension specification that works so effortlessly on the road and track on the base model, it is well-balanced, satisfying and fun in terms of the driving experience it offers.”
The front-mounted Caterham-developed Ford Duratec engine pairs up with a limited-slip differential to further enhance its performance credentials.
Meanwhile, grippy Avon CR500 tyres, Supersport dampers and race springs ensure the car’s handling is highly-focussed but still supple enough for the road.
Weighing just 535kg, the new vehicle extends the Supersport line, which already includes road and track versions of the 1.6-litre model.
Inside the cabin, a bespoke Supersport steering wheel, integrated change-up light, composite race seats and four-point race harnesses complete the track-inspired experience. Naturally, an aero screen comes as standard.
The Supersport R’s DNA stems from the Caterham Supersport Championship, which is the fourth rung of its motorsport ‘ladder’ and is Caterham’s fastest-growing series.
Please visit www.caterham.co.uk or call 01883 333 700 for more information.