For those really serious about their driving, the famous supercar-slaying R500 moniker is back with the arrival of the all-new Caterham Seven Superlight R500.
The latest model from the British sportscar manufacturer takes the minimalist, lightweight Seven philosophy to a new level with more power, sharper handling and for those venturing on track the option of launch control and the Caterham Motorsport engineered sequential gearbox.
Weighing just 506kg and producing 263bhp, R500 is the most potent race-tuned production Seven yet.
The Series 3 chassis flagship model blasts out 520bhp-per-tonne and is capable of propelling itself from 0-60mph in 2.88 seconds, delivering a pure adrenalin fix for those committed enough to strap themselves into the Kevlar race seats.
The original R500 was legendary, with the old Rover K-series powered machine rewriting performance records for 0-60mph and 0-100-0mph times. This new variant has been equipped to supersede its predecessor by embracing the very latest in lightweight engineering techniques and technology.
Lurking under the lightened bonnet is the all-alloy 2.0 litre Ford Duratec engine. Fed by its roller barrel throttle bodies, the normally aspirated, four-cylinder mill is tuned by Caterham Powertrain (CPT) to unleash a monster; 263bhp with a heaving 177 lb-ft of torque transmitted to the rear wheels. The relentless acceleration is transmitted through each ratio by either the standard 6-speed gearbox or the optional Caterham Motorsport engineered sequential transmission.
To help reign in such extreme performance are race-developed Avon CR500 tyres and a suspension set-up that includes weight saving aero wishbones and fully adjustable dampers. Bringing things ferociously to a halt are four-piston calipers clamping on vented discs at the front and lightweight twin piston rear calipers.
Performance upgrades for the R500 aimed squarely at the track day market include a sequential transmission, launch control, a gulping Carbon Induction Airbox and Eibach Springs and dampers derived from the Caterham C400 race series.
The R500 isn’t just about big performance statistics though; refinements and Seven firsts feature throughout and help distinguish it from its stablemates.
In true Colin Chapman spirit, engineers sought to add lightness to the chassis in order to improve the overall performance.
To shed a massive 9kg from the already featherlight chassis utilised by the R400, Caterham left no bolt unscrewed - more carbon and Kevlar feature than previously, thinner body panels have been utilised right through to aluminium rear light housings.
Discreet exterior styling tweaks carried over from the flagship CSR models offer both form and function - the carbon winglets increasing downforce and the cat’s tongue grill aiding cooling and aerodynamics. A carbon leather boot cover and clear rear lights are also new.
Housed within the revised chassis is keyless ignition, a quick-release Momo steering wheel with integrated indicator switches and an innovative dashboard featuring flush fitted switchgear, ACES sequential gear change lights and a new Stack display with scrolling text. The carbon dash is also finished with a detailed engraved plaque to show each car’s number.
On sale immediately, the factory built Superlight R500 starts at £36,995.Published 14 April 2008