TopGear.com22 October 2013

Old, slow, cheap and… brilliant?

Is the 80bhp, 490kg bargain bin Caterham 160 actually the finest in the range?

This is the new Caterham Seven 160. It produces just 80bhp, and costs just £17,995, but might just be the finest Caterham you can buy.

OK, so the deranged R500 and 620R might go quicker - a lot, lot quicker - but this back-to-basics edition is what Caterham is really all about: simple, lightweight, cheap fun.

Very cheap and very light. The Seven 160 costs just £17,995, making it the cheapest Caterham, and weighs just 490kg without fluids or driver. That ‘160' refers to the Seven's rough power-to-weight ratio, which is the same as a Toyota GT86's.

The 160 celebrates 40 years of Caterham Sevens, and keeps things as simple as the originals. There's a live rear axle, anorexic 155-section tyres and 14-inch steel wheels.

The engine is a 660cc kei-car three-pot borrowed from Suzuki, boosted by a turbocharger to lift power from an embarrassing 64bhp to a devastating 80. Torque? 79lb ft. We didn't know they made dynos capable of detecting such tiny amounts.

But despite the humble outputs, the 160 isn't embarrassingly slow. Running through a five-speed manual ‘box also supplied by Suzuki, it'll get from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds (1.1 seconds faster than a Toyota GT-86) and on to a top speed of 100mph. It should, driven carefully, manage over 50mpg.

If you're overcome with a case of the James Mays, you can even build your own, saving £3,000. Sort of. DIY kit-form cars are only available in the UK, and Caterham reckons it'll take 80 man-hours to construct.

Unless you're Top Gear, that is...

Look out for our first drive later today 

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