Caterham Seven 485S SV : Charismatic crackles, crisp clarity

Caterham Seven 485S SV
(Photos: Caterham Cars)
Strapped tight with a four-point harness and chill wind rushing through the hair, as an aggressively crackling, popping, and growling soundtrack barks from the side-mounted exhaust, the Caterham Seven 485S driving experience is indeed exhilarating, engaging, engrossing, and elemental. Viscerally undiluted in its driver-car connection, the 485S is uncomplicated in concept yet sophisticated in execution. Virtually a stripped-down supercar-slaying featherweight road racer unburdened by frivolity or excess, it is brimming with crisp controls, responsive reflexes, and direct dynamic clarity.اضافة اعلان

An antidote to cocooned, heavy and over-processed modern cars, the Seven 485S traces its roots to the 1957 Lotus Seven, which has been continually developed since Caterham Cars took over Seven’s production in 1973. Thoroughly enhanced, it is true to legendary Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s lightweight “less is more” ethos for performance, efficiency, and dynamics. An evolutionary car rather than re-creation or re-interpretation, the modern Seven remains devoid of any luxury, driver aid, or convenience superfluous to the driving experience — including braking and steering assistance — but shares no component with historical models.

With form following function, the iconic bug-eyed Seven’s long, low, and narrow bonnet houses the engine behind the front axle and semi-exposed in-board double-wishbone front suspension. Its cabin is just ahead of its De Dion semi-independent rear axle; the Seven’s major weights are concentrated within its wheelbase for balance, while wheels are pushed out far for stability.

The Seven’s self-perpetuating lightweight sensibility adds lightness to components required, including affordable small 195/45R15 tires with low un-sprung weight being able to provide necessary grip.

Trim and razor-sharp even on its 65th anniversary; the Seven uses light but stiff tubular space-frame construction and an aluminum body. Offered in road-oriented S or track-honed R specification, it weighs only 575kg, even when specified with a marginally heavier optional wide SV body for larger, taller drivers.

Engine options range from Suzuki-sourced 85HP turbocharged three-cylinder to a 310HP supercharged version of its mainstay Ford Duratec engine. The Seven is perhaps, however, most compelling in top naturally-aspirated 485 guise.

Introduced in 2013, the Seven 485S remains in production as Caterham’s most powerful export model ever, and is propelled by a fervently urgent and rev-hungry naturally-aspirated two-liter four-cylinder engine. Boasting 30HP over its domestic British market 420S relation, the 485S employs precise electronically-actuated individual throttle body induction, a revised engine head design, and high 13:1 compression. Producing 240HP at a sensationally high-strung 8,500rpm and 206Nm torque at a peaky 6,300rpm, the 485S SV’s acceleration, power density, and power-to-weight are on par with exotic supercar contemporaries, like the 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider.

Rocketing through 0-100km/h in around 3.4-seconds and capable of 225km/h, the 485S’ fire-breathing soundtrack meanwhile rises from throaty growl to raspy bark and urgent howl as revs climb. Charismatic acoustics include a medley of exhaust crackles and pops on throttle lift-off and gear shifts. Eagerly high-revving, the 485S likes to be wrung hard and rewards the driver with intensely progressive delivery as it unrelentingly rips through to stratospheric sweet spots. Being so light, it pulls hard from low revs and delivers muscular mid-range versatility. Meanwhile, dry-sump lubrication ensures constant engine oil flow through hard-driven corners.

Rear-wheel driven through an aggressively close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, the 485S’ intuitive clutch and throttle balance perfectly to manage slip and traction on launch, while exact throttle control, linear delivery, and long-legged rev range allow one to re-apply power out of corners with transparency, fluency, and precision.

Uncorrupted, direct, and communicative, its quick 1.93-turn unassisted steering is heavy when parking but delivers a nuanced feel for road and position as it lightens with speed. The unassisted brakes are stiff but are highly effective, with superlative feedback.

A distilled drive that concentrates attention, instills alertness, and rewards good driving, the 485S’ handling precision, control, and confidence are little rivaled. Turning in with mosquito-like reflexes, immediate responses, and layers of feel, the highly connected 485S delivers taut body control, dynamic balance, and reassuring road-holding. At the same time, a limited-slip rear-differential enhances agility and distributes power to the wheel with the best traction through corners. Fluid and forgiving over imperfect roads and stable at speed — despite wind noise and dated aerodynamics — the 485S’ low weight and superb suspension fine-tuning also provide a forgiving ride quality.

A squeeze even in SV guise, one lowers into a focused, body-hugging driving position with legs stretched and only concise movements needed for a small steering wheel and stubby short-throw gear lever. Functional inside, the 458S features an upright carbon-fiber dash, thinly padded leather upholstery, and limited luggage space. Detachable vinyl side-screen “doors” reduce wind buffeting and retain heat, but vibrate too much as effective side mirrors mounts. An optional clip-on vinyl rain roof is supported by rear safety roll bars, but restricts otherwise excellent road visibility and adds little cabin security.

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