With their bare-bones layouts, tubular steel chassis, and high power-to-weight ratios, Caterham’s Seven series of retro two-seater sports cars were already some of the lightest cars on the market. But now the British company has outdone themselves with their latest model, the Seven 170, as it’s the lightest production car the marque has ever produced.
The Caterham Seven 170 weighs in at a scant 440 kg — that’s about 970 lbs. For a little context, a Fiat 500 weighs in at more than 2,300 lbs. Ditto a Mazda Miata. So the fact that Caterham has been able to produce a fully-functioning production car that both looks and performs great (more on that in a bit) and weighs less than a thousand pounds is pretty remarkable. As you probably guessed given the extremely low weight, the Seven 170 is powered by a tiny engine: a 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder powerplant from Suzuki. The engine makes just 84 horsepower and 86 lb.-ft. of torque, but thanks to the insanely low weight, the car has a pretty impressive power-to-weight ratio of over 170 hp per ton. That helps propel the Seven 170 to a 0-62 mph time of just 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 105 mph. It’s also extremely economical, with the lowest emissions of any Caterham vehicle to date and an even smaller carbon footprint than economical hybrids like the Toyota Yaris 1.5. The car even complies with Japan’s popular Kei car regulations, in case any Japanese drivers are looking for a microcar with a bit more pizzazz.
The Caterham Seven 170 is available in two versions: the road-going “S” and the track-focused “R.” The 170S goes for comfort, with a windshield, wipers, leather seats, and other niceties, while the pared-down 170R loses the windshield and gains a carbon fiber dash and four-point racing seats. Both versions feature a five-speed manual transmission and 14” wheels. The Seven 170 starts at £22,990 (~$31,500) in kit form and can be configured on Caterham’s website.