August 16 2013

The new Caterham 620R!!!

RMA Track Days talks about the new Caterham 620R

What is it?

The most potent and hardcore Caterham Seven yet to wear a set of number plates and a tax disc. The Caterham 620R replaces the R500 and immediately outdoes it with an absurd 580bhp/ton power-to-weight ratio – 60bhp more than a Bugatti Veyron and 20bhp more than a McLaren F1. It goes on sale later in 2013, priced at £49,995.

Technical highlights?

This is the most extreme of a long and illustrious line of bonkers Sevens. Powered by a supercharged 2-litre Ford Duratec engine developing 311bhp and 219lb ft of torque. In keeping with its hardcore brief it also features a six-speed sequential transmission with flat-shift, so you can keep your right foot pinned as you pull through the gears. Wide-track front suspension, a De Dion rear axle and adjustable motorsport dampers all round provide the optimum chassis with which to make the most of that mouth-watering powertrain.

At first glance the 620R is just like any other Seven, but delightful geeky details abound. The nose cone features an extra intake, complete with an array of small, serrated, tooth-like fins along the opening’s leading edge. A pair of dive planes mounted to the sides of the nose cone make an effort to reduce lift, while the wing-section wishbones reduce drag. Magnesium wheels wrapped with super-sticky 13in Avon ZZR rubber give the 620R the look and stance of a race car, as does the extreme camber angle of the front wheels. This particular car comes equipped with an aeroscreen, seats and interior panels in carbonfibre, so it’s about as full-on as a Seven comes. That’s perfect for track driving, but not so hospitable for road driving.

What’s it like to drive?

Caterham claims it’ll complete 0-60 in 2.79sec, and an impromptu experiment on a quiet country lane suggests this is a conservative figure. Traction is the limiting factor all the way through first gear, especially as there are no electronics to tame the wheelspin. We hope to obtain a full set of acceleration figures soon, but there’s no doubt that the 620R is one of the most accelerative production cars in the world.

The suspension is perhaps a little too stiff for bumpier roads, but there’s a level of compliance that rounds off the sharpest edges, so the wheels stay on the ground admirably well for such a flyweight car. The steering is physical, but at just 1.93 turns lock-to-lock, a roll of the wrists sees you round most corners. The sequential transmission demands positive inputs, but there’s something totally addictive about the crack-crack-crack as you work up and down the ’box. It really gets you in the zone and the shifts come literally as fast as you can move your arm.

There’s no denying that you can hit silly speeds at will, but because you reach them in the blink of an eye you can grab your fun in an opportunist manner denied to bigger, longer-striding cars like a Nissan GT-R or Porsche 911 GT3. And because the Seven is so small, you can enjoy it on a greater variety of roads, scribing a neat, smooth line on faster sweeping roads or slithering and sliding your way round tighter tangles of corners.

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