Some automakers build super-luxury cars and nothing else (see: Bentley and Rolls-Royce ). These companies couldn’t care less if 99.9 percent of the world can’t afford their cars, they will just keep on building them. Well, Caterham is similar to Bentley in the fact that it builds nothing but cars designed to go really fast on a track and it has no issue asking you for tens of thousands of Pounds for said vehicles.
With the Superlight R500 slowly getting up there in age and the R300 just not cutting it for some racecar drivers, Caterham knew it needed something with a little more oomph. Well, it gave us a little sneak preview just a few weeks ago by releasing an unfamiliar sight: a “Supercharged” badge on the back end of a Caterham racecar.
To date, Caterham has been content with taking small displacement, naturally aspirated engines and turning them into racecar engines. This addition of a supercharger will be the first time that Caterham has ever used forced induction. Now, Caterham has chosen to let us in on this new, mold-breaking model, the Superlight R600.
To read all about the Superlight R600, click past the jump.
Interior and Exterior
The Caterham Superlight R600 is keeping pace with all the R-Series, as expected. It boasts the same basic interior and exterior styling of the R300 that came before it. This means it is truly a racecar inside and out. The only differences between the all-new R600 and the R300 that it supersedes are that the R600 is missing the bug-eye headlights and side-exit exhaust, and it features a nearly full rollover cage.
With the body being a carryover, we assume that the R600 boasts the same carbon-fiber rear wings, composite seats, and Momo steering wheel that the R300 boasts.
Engine and Drivetrain
Just like the R300 and R500 before it, the R600 comes fitted with a 2.0-liter Ford Duratec engine – yeah, the same 2.0-liter Duratec found in Ford Focuses around the world. Don’t mistake this for the 140-horsepower powerplant found in your 2007 to 2012 Focus, this beast has been reworked by the folks at Caterham to pump out a stout 275 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Those power numbers are a 4.5 percent jump and 13 percent jump from the top-of-the-line Superlight R500, respectively.
Since there is not much more that Caterham can do to the guts of the Ford powerplant, it had to resort to bolting up a supercharger to the engine to reach these increases.
All of these ponies are ushered to the rear wheels via a 6-speed sequential gearbox. In this rear end sits a Titan limited-slip differential to help the tires maintain optimal traction through the twist and on acceleration. We think it’s safe to assume that the R600 boasts the same 3.62-to-1 final drive ratio, but there is no confirmation on this.
Unfortunately, and as expected, Caterham has held the rest of its cards regarding this powertrain close to its chest. So for now, this is all of the information we have on the R600’s engine and drivetrain.
Engine and Drivetrain Specifications:
|Engine Type||Supercharged 2.0-liter Ford Duratec 4-cylinder|
|Engine Output||275 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque|
|Transmission||6-speed sequential gearbox|
|Differential||Titan Limited Slip|
Suspension and Handling
Unfortunately, Caterham has yet to offer up what kind of suspension and handling goodies are under the R600’s body. Our assumption would be that it features the same 15-inch Superlight alloy rims, ventilated front disc brakes with 4-piston calipers, and Superlight Suspension that the R300 features. We’ll await confirmation on this, however.
Pricing and Release Date
Caterham has yet to stick the Superlight R600 with an official price, but it anticipates a base MSRP of £44,995 ($72,477 at the current exchange rates). As per usual, we expect Caterham to offer up a laundry list of optional equipment like it has with every other model it has sold.
Caterham has also not released it official debut date, but we figure it will hit the market in late 2012 or early 2013.
What About My R300?
Caterham has a solution for you R300 owners that are upset at the fact that this new model crushes it on the track. It is offering owners an upgrade for the R300 to bring it up to the Superlight R600’s specifications. Unfortunately, Caterham has yet to give us a price on the upgrade.
The Caterham Superlight R600 is going to hit the market about the same time as the all new KTM X-Bow, which will now feature creature comforts, like doors and a windshield. There is plenty of speculation on the upcoming KTM X-Bow, but nothing is confirmed about the drivetrain. There are a few rumors abound that it will boast a 5-banger engine, but that is all speculation.
As it sits now, the current KTM X-Bow and its 220-horsepower Audi FSI engine and its 3.9-second 0-to-60 mph time just can come close to what the Caterham will run. With the rumors also pegging the new 5-cylinder engine nearer to 300 horsepower, we may be taking a whole new ballgame when the revised X-Bow finally arrives.
- 4.5 percent and 13 percent bump in horsepower and torque
- A racing pedigree like no other
- Very affordable
- Will require tons of maintenance
- Still not street legal nor easily purchased in the U.S.
- Caterham guards its performance information like a brick of gold
Gallery Caterham Superlight R600
Caterham launches premier Superlight R600 series
- Fastest Caterham Seven race car to date
- First supercharged production Seven
- Extreme performance from 275bhp Seven
Iconic British road and race car manufacturer, Caterham Cars, has developed its most extreme race-ready Seven to date – the Superlight R600.
With stunning performance potential and all the character of existing Caterham circuit cars, the new supercharged incarnation of the Seven will represent the top echelon of the Caterham racing spectrum in the Superlight R600 Championship from 2013.
Powered by a supercharged, 2-litre Ford Duratec engine, producing 275bhp, the R600’s dedicated championship will further extend the Caterham Motorsport ‘ladder’, currently topped by the hugely successful R300 series.
The R600 race car, expected to cost around £44,995 (incl VAT), will be the first Seven ever to feature forced induction technology, making it the fastest ever production Seven and a natural progression from the advances made with Caterham’s sports prototype, the SP/300.R, which uses a similar power plant.
Caterham is expecting at least a16-car grid for the debut championship season in 2013, with 30 cars anticipated to compete the following year.
Simon Lambert, Caterham’s Chief Motorsport and Technical Officer, said: “Caterham racing just got even more interesting.
“As the fastest Seven we’ve ever built, this will provide our existing R300 racers with a real step up and a new and exciting challenge, even for experienced drivers. The R600 represents an increase in aggressiveness, although the linear power delivery of the supercharged engine makes it superbly driveable, much like the R300.”
A clear development from the Academy, Roadsport, Tracksport, Supersport and R300 race cars, the R600 will transfer driving characteristics inherent to all Sevens but will be more aggressive – with 200lb-ft of torque, it represents a 13% increase on the current top-of-the-range road-going Seven, the legendary Superlight R500.
Meanwhile, 275bhp is directed to the rear wheels through a six-speed, sequential gearbox.
The headline specification also comprises a Titan limited-slip differential and Avon radial slicks or wets, for increased traction and quicker lap times.
The latest variant of the Seven can be bought as a new car or existing R300 owners can upgrade their vehicles to R600 spec. Exact price will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
As Caterham’s brand profile continues to rise, thanks to its addition to the Formula One grid, the Company will also look to gather together its flourishing series of domestic championships – from the entry-level Academy to the premium new championship – to create dedicated, festival-style Caterham race days.