2015 has been a busy year for Caterham thus far, as the Brits updated the Roadsport, Superlight, and Supersport versions of the Seven, while also renaming them based on the same power-to-weight ratio used for the entry-level 2014 Caterham Seven 160 and range-topping 2013 Caterham Seven 620R models. Also, Caterham introduced a choice of two performance packs for each model. Now that the new 2015 Caterham Seven 270, 2015 Caterham Seven 360, and 2015 Caterham Seven 420 are already in showrooms, the brand is launching yet another new car.

Meet the Superlight Twenty, the limited-edition, track-ready model built to celebrate an iconic sports car from the 1990s.

Packed with several carbon-fiber body parts and an array of suspension updates, the Twenty comes to the market as the spiritual successor of the Superlight 1.6. Launched in 1996 as an even lighter, more powerful, yet more affordable version of the Seven, the Superlight 1.6 will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016. With the Twenty, Caterham aims to celebrate the two decades since it introduced the car became one of the company’s most coveted models, while also inspiring the development of current products.

The Superlight Twenty will debut at the 2015 Goodwood Revival before it goes on sale later this year in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, it won’t be offered in the U.S.

Continue reading to learn more about the Caterham Superlight Twenty.

  • 2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    6-speed close ratio
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    135
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5 sec.
  • Price:
    29995
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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Although it is not as quick as the 620R, the Superlight Twenty sports an aggressive exterior that speaks volumes of its track-focused character. Virtually an unpainted version of the 620R, the Superlight Twenty is packed with carbon-fiber components, including the front cycle wings, the rear fenders, the nose, the aero screen that replaces the standard windshield, and the mirror caps. The body is finished in bare aluminum, as was the original Superlight’s, which saves 13.2 pounds, according to the car’s lightweight approach. However, paint is available as an option, as is the "weather equipment," which is Caterham talk for its rudimentary soft-top.

Interior

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Interior
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The interior looks a little more modern than the original Superlight 1.6’s, but the overall layout is still spartan. The simple dashboard is equipped with the usual gauges and switches, but the instrument cluster is unique to this model. Both the key and the gear knob feature a "Superlight Twenty" motif, and the floor is finished in a titanium-like color.

Another exclusive feature is the numbered plaque on the passenger side of the dashboard. Each metal plate is numbered from 1 to 20 and features "Superlight Twenty" lettering, and the years 1996 and 2016, marking the nameplate’s 20th anniversary. The carbon-fiber seats are borrowed from the Seven 620R, but adorned by special embroidery, and a Momo racing steering wheel round out the Twenty’s race-spec interior.

A heater is the only option available for this model’s interior.

Drivetrain

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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Just like its predecessor, the Twenty is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. But while the original Superlight 1.6 featured a modified, Rover K-Series unit, the Twenty is equipped with the familiar Ford Sigma powerplant. The four-banger cranks out 135 horses, which represents a 24-horsepower improvement over the previous model. The output is identical to the Seven 270, which means Caterham simply transferred the engine from the car that replaced the Roadsport 125 in 2015.

The engine mates to a six-speed, close-ratio gearbox and a limited-slip differential, pushing the Twenty from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 122 mph. This makes it a tenth-second quicker than the Seven 270, suggesting the Twenty is actually a lighter, carbon-packed version of the 270. Keeping the Twenty on its best behavior are a sport suspension pack and a set of performance tires. A lightweight flywheel replaced the standard unit.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine
Output 135 HP
Transmission 6-speed close-ratio

Prices

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Interior
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The Superlight Twenty retails from £29,995 (around $46,300), which makes it slightly more expensive than the Seven 420, priced from £26,995 (about $41,700), but significantly more affordable than the range-topping 620R, which fetches at least £49,995 (around $77,200). Production will be limited to only 20 units, all of which will be sold in the U.K. The aforementioned sticker is for factory-built models. If you’d like to assemble the Superlight Twenty yourself, the car costs £26,995,

Competition

2011 KTM X-Bow R

2011 KTM X-Bow R High Resolution Exterior
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Developed specifically to give the Caterham Seven a run for its money, the X-Bow has evolved into a full lineup of vehicles, including three roadsters and a race-spec coupe. At 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the X-Bow R is much too powerful for the Twenty, but the least-powerful X-Bow, the 2014 KTM X-Bow GT, rated at 285 horses, isn’t as track-prepped as the Superlight. Should you opt for the X-Bow R, it will take you to 60 mph in only 3.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 144 mph, both superior to the Twenty’s. On the other hand, the X-Bow R is a lot more expensive than the Caterham, at more than £64,850 (around $100K) and lacks the heritage of the Seven.

Find out more about the KTM X-Bow R here.

2015 Caterham Seven 270

2015 Caterham Seven 270 High Resolution Exterior
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It may seem strange to compare the Twenty with another Seven, but the 270 is actually the best alternative to this limited-edition Superlight. It has the same 135-horsepower, 122-pound-feet engine under the hood, and the R Pack adds the same lightweight flywheel and sport suspension offered with the Twenty. Moreover, the six-speed transmission with the limited-slip differential is also available. Sure, the 270 doesn’t have that many carbon-fiber body elements or the 620R-sourced seats, but it’s only a tad slower to 60 mph at five seconds flat, and it starts from only £19,995 (about $30,900). Given the Twenty is bound to sell out in no time, the Seven 270 seems like a great option for those who can’t rush to grab one of the 20 available Superlights.

Read more about the Caterham Seven 270 here.

Conclusion

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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With vehicles such as the Ariel Atom, KTM X-Bow, 2016 Rezvani Beast, 2016 BAC Mono, and 2014 VUHL 05 up for grabs nowadays, the superlight sports car market is more crowded the ever. But despite most of these cars being quicker and more powerful than most Caterham Sevens, the brand’s less aggressive products still receive a lot of attention, mostly because they continue to be built based on Colin Chapman’s fundamental principles of performance through low weight.

With a heritage that goes back more than half a century, the Seven is indeed a special car, while the Superlight, a nameplate launched just 20 years ago, has already become a legend in its own right. Caterham has evolved dramatically since the Superlight 1.6 first arrived in showrooms, and the Twenty, which is both lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, is solid proof of the brand’s evolution. It might not be as quick as a KTM X-Bow, but it’s better suited to hit the track as a race car, and, more importantly, its design is a timeless classic.

  • Leave it
    • Limited to only 20 units
    • Not coming to the U.S.
    • Significantly slower than the 620R
    • Buy the Seven 270 if you don’t care much about carbon-fiber
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

Press Release

Caterham has revived the spirit of one of its most illustrious Sevens - the boisterous 1.6-litre Seven Superlight – with the launch of a new special edition model.

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Interior
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Just 20 of the special edition cars – launched at this weekend’s Goodwood Revival ahead of the 20th anniversary of the original Superlight in 1996 – will be built.

The original Superlight’s production run ceased in 2004, but it heralded a new era of purposeful, track-biased Sevens designed to offer even more performance and low weight at a pared down price point.

Despite its ultra-minimalist character – even for a Seven – the Superlight went on to become one of Caterham’s most coveted models, selling some 200 examples while in production.

Priced at £29,995*, and sporting a similarly extreme spec sheet to that of the original, the Superlight Twenty receives a 135bhp 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine, 6-speed close ratio gearbox, ‘Sport’ suspension pack, lightweight flywheel and a limited slip differential.

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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The bodywork benefits from numerous carbon fibre components, including its cycle wings, rear wings, nose and minimalist aero screen. The body is finished in bare aluminium, as per the original Superlight, which saves six kilograms further contributing to the ultra-lightweight approach.

The new vehicle also gets a numbered dash plaque, unique gauges, key and a gear knob bearing the ‘Superlight Twenty’ motif and is equipped with a titanium coloured chassis, carbon interior panels and specially-embroidered carbon sports seats found only on Caterham’s flagship model; the Seven 620 R.

The special edition is only available as a Series 3 chassis with a limited list of options; in keeping with the minimalistic theme of the model. Just paint, weather equipment and a heater are available.

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: “When Caterham created the original Superlight, it was a big hit. We sold every one we built and it inspired the development of future models.

“As well all the five-star reviews and animated feedback from customers for its driver appeal and roisterous character, it always represented excellent value by being a genuinely accessible performance car bargain – which is why we’ve tried to recreate that magic by celebrating the 20th anniversary of its launch.”

By no means the fastest Seven produced to date – the new model will hit 60mph in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 122mph – it is however one of the most visceral performance models Caterham has built since the original. Every Seven meets slightly different driver demands, but perhaps more than any other in the range, the Superlight Twenty epitomises Colin Chapman’s fundamental principles of performance through light weight.

Macdonald continued: “Those unable to buy one first time around now have the opportunity to snap up one of a limited run of vehicles – it’s not an exact replica of the original but it’s most definitely cut from the same cloth and we know customers will love it for all the same reasons.”

2016 Caterham Superlight Twenty High Resolution Exterior
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The order book for the Superlight Twenty opens immediately, priced at £29,995*.

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