Caterham Cars has come a long way since it took over the manufacturing of the minimalist Seven from Lotus founder Colin Chapman in the early 1970s. To see that you have only to check out the AeroSeven performance concept road car, unveiled on the first day of practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
It's the first car designed with significant input from all the Caterham departments, and signals the group's direction in terms of engineering , as well as a hint to its styling direction for future models, including the all-new sports-ar being developed in conjunction with Renault for release early in 2016.
FULLY INDEPENDENT SUSPENSION
It's also the first Caterham with traction control, using a newly developed in-house engine management system that's fully adjustable form the driver's seat.
The chassis is based on that of the potent Seven CSR, featuring fully independent rear and F1-style inboard (pushrod) front suspension, with uprated dampers, springs and anti-roll bars. It has a naturally-aspirated two-litre Ford Duratec engine that's been tweaked by Caterham to deliver 176kW at a dizzy 8500rpm, driving the rear wheels (of course) through a Caterham six-speed manual gearbox - although Caterham is looking at other engines as well.
ALL-CARBON FIBRE BODY
It's clothed in an all-carbon fibre full body (rather than an open-wheeler as per the Seven) designed with help from Caterham F1 team performance director John Iley to increase downforce while reducing drag and improving straight-line stability at high speeds.
The concept has a power-to-weight ration of more than 295kW per ton and is capable of 0-100km/h in less than four seconds - and first deliveries of the production version are slated for the third quarter of 2014.
The cockpit features an all-new fully active graphic display unit developed in-house, that combines all the instrumentation in one high-resolution, centrally mounted display of engine speed, gear selection, vehicle speed, traction and brake settings, fuel and oil levels.
In addition, the F1-style steering wheel carries controls for 'Road' mode (the default setting is 'Race' mode!) 'Flash-to-Pass' and a pit-lane speed limiter function.