31 October 2008

Red, cross

Caterham's new R300. Slightly less lethal then the R500

Caterham R300

There are, we concede, occasional moments when the Caterham R500 - with its 500bhp per tonne, sub-three second 0-60mph time and total absence of any creature comforts – might be considered just a bit much.

The rainy, frozen cold moments where you might just fancy something more cosseting, more luxurious and more, er, unmurderous.

So how about the new Caterham R300? Think of it as an R500 that’s just a fraction less likely to result in your impending deadness.

Powered by a new two-litre Ford Duratec engine instead of the old Rover unit, the R300’s four-pot puts out 175bhp and 139lb ft of torque. With a kerbweight of just 515kg, that means a power-to-weight ratio of 339bhp per tonne and a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds – still quick enough to show a clean pair of heels to anything tardier than a serious supercar.

Deliveries begin next spring, while prices start at £25,000 if you’re prepared to build it yourself, or £28,000 if you’re lazy.

We know it’s easy to get bogged down in the myriad variations on essentially identical Caterhams, but we reckon this might just be the best blend of performance and handling for those of us who aren’t blessed with the on-the-edge car control skills of Double-0-Stig.

If you’re worried by the lack of a proper roof, can we recommend a sturdy umbrella?

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