440kg. That’s roughly how much a thoroughbred horse weighs. It’s also how much the new Caterham Seven 170 weighs.
That makes the 170 the lightest production Seven of all time and the lightest production car on sale, and it even tips the scales at around 10kg-20kg less than the Renault Twizy quadricycle.
The boutique British brand says it has made its long-running Seven compliant with Japanese Kei class regulations by popping in a smaller engine, which in turn has reduced the car’s weight.
A spokesperson for Caterham Cars Australia said the Seven 170 won’t be sold in Australia.
“Unfortunately, the Seven 170 is based on the Series 3 chassis, which is not ADR compliant. It is too small to satisfy the ADR!” said the spokesperson.
“We can only get the larger SV chassis, which accommodates drivers up to 6’ 6” in height.
“Presently we offer the Seven 485 S and the Seven 485 CSR only. The next available production slots are in 2023.”
The Seven 170 is powered by a Suzuki-sourced 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing 63kW of power and 116Nm of torque, resulting in a power-to-weight ratio exceeding 126kW-per-tonne (or 170hp-per-tonne, hence the name).
It’s also smaller than the standard Seven, if that’s at all possible, due to new front and rear wings. Overall width is just 1470mm, or 125mm narrower than a Kia Picanto.
Its tyres are also skinny, with the Seven 170 riding on Avon ZT7 185/60 R14 footwear.
The only transmission is a five-speed manual, while there’s still a live axle at the rear.
It’s available in two variants: the road-going S and the more track-focused R.
The S comes standard with leather seats, side screens, a heater and a windscreen, while the R scraps those and features a sportier suspension tune, limited-slip differential, composite race seats, and four-point race harnesses.
In the UK, the Seven 170 S rings in at £22,990 ($43,234), with the R costing an extra £1000 (A$1880). That means undercuts the next cheapest Seven by around A$18,000.
Caterham has long used Ford-sourced engines for its Seven, which makes the Seven 170’s Japanese powertrain somewhat of a departure.
However, it makes more sense when you consider the company was purchased by Japanese vehicle distributor VT Holdings earlier in 2021.
VT Holdings had been the company’s importer in Japan since 2009. It claims to sell around 120 Caterham vehicles annually in the region and also imports vehicles from Lotus and Royal Enfield.
“VT Holdings is proud to welcome Caterham to the group. We have not only purchased a globally renowned performance car manufacturer but [also] become custodians of a motoring legend,” said VT CEO and former race car driver Kazuho Takahashi in April 2021.
“We will protect and develop the Seven to meet the legislative challenges that lie ahead.”