Let me begin this review with a disclaimer: I’ve never driven a Caterham, or anything of a similar vein before. And while I’ve experienced many a higher power-to-weight ratio (in the form of most modern superbikes), it’s certainly never felt this… extreme. So, apologies in advance for the sheer enthusiasm of my review, but this thing is absolutely bonkers. In a good way, of course.
My first impression was borne of confusion. Confusion as to how the four-point seatbelt did up, confusion as to how to start the car and, overwhelmingly, confusion as to how the hell anyone bigger than my 5ft 7-inch, sized 10-self managed to fit into the carbon-fibre bucket seats. But fit they did, and the potent little 420R proved a firm favourite in the GRR office. However, it was I that drew the short, sporty, yellow straw to take the Caterham home on at the end of the week, ahead of our weekend track debut at a GRRC Autosolo…
Powered by a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine, and putting out 213PS (157kW), the 560kg Caterham 420R is named for its horsepower-per-tonne ratio, which makes it one of the most powerful Sevens available – second only to the 620. It’s available in two iterations: the road-biased ‘S’ and the track-focussed ‘R’. Given the nature of Sunday’s competition, we were testing the R version.
While the 420 itself is priced from £34,490, the example we had on test added more than £12k of options, taking the total price to £47,475.02. Admittedly, that sounds like an awful lot for what is essentially an overgrown go-kart, but when you consider the supercar level performance, the price pales into obscurity right?