back to article Caterham 270S: The automotive equivalent of crack

More power is always good, so the question is: how much better is the Caterham 270S than the Caterham 160 we reviewed a while back? The answer is "not a lot". And the real improvement isn’t the power, it’s the gearbox and the sound. This is surprising. Caterham nomenclature is based on power-to-weight ratios, with the car …

  1. Herby

    Now that ElReg is...

    getting into geeky automotive reviews, they could employ Jeremy Clarkson. I understand he is available.

    Maybe ElReg can get access to a nice track as well. You know lap tests and all that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now that ElReg is...

      The pity is that being (once upon a time) a techy web site, you'd have thought they'd have made more of the Caterham kit options other than just mentioning that the "options" includes £3k for factory assembly. There's something the leeches at BMW haven't thought to charge extra for yet.

      My heart's with self assembly, my head says "don't be an idiot!". Luckily for the head, my wallet doesn't presently have £16k for a hobby two seater.

      1. Vic

        Re: Now that ElReg is...

        My heart's with self assembly, my head says "don't be an idiot!".

        I used to work with a guy who was building one - 3 years ago, he reckoned it was ready except for £600 worth of stuff he couldn't afford at the time...

        Vic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now that ElReg is...

      Top Gear look down on Caterham owners, pretty sure they called them anoraks or something.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Now that ElReg is...

        Takes about two weeks to make one from kit. Friend did exactly that. Others can take much longer. Took me some months to make a Westfield 25 years ago, but that included sourcing a lot of parts myself. Caterham kits have most of the bits you need already.

        My Locost still isn't finished and I started it over ten years ago. But then I did make the chassis and build the engine from bits. (ex. FFord engine, +60 overbore, twin dellorto 40's, stage 3 head, high lift cam etc).

        Building these things is fun, unless you have children. When you never have time.

        1. Dave Stevenson
          Happy

          Re: Now that ElReg is...

          Buy the kit - much more fun, and you get to know the car.

          I built mine about 8 years ago, and it took me about 2 months in evenings, weekends, and about 8 days off work. At the time they reckoned 80-100 hours for someone with basic engineering skills, and with everything being new it's all relatively easy - really big boy's Meccano (although with slightly fewer pictures than ideal in the build instructions).

          I've still got the car and it still makes me smile when I drive it.

  2. J P
    Go

    A scarily appropriate comparison

    Way back when in the BC years (Before Children) I used to sprint someone else's historic racecar. Even without the capital outlay on the vehicle, I worked out that just the fuel, licence, and entry fees made it a more expensive hobby, in terms of "thrill minutes per pound" than a cocaine habit*. No idea how addictive cocaine actually is, but time on track certainly haunts you forever.

    *Using figures from the Daily Mail for drug costs, before you ask.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: A scarily appropriate comparison

      I was secretary of the Austin Healey Card Club (New Forest) for a while. My brother had a Sprite IV with a 1340cc engine in it. That was fun auto testing.

      Back then most Caterhams were kit-built and the motor was usually a donor Crossflow out of an old Escort.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A scarily appropriate comparison

        > I was secretary of the Austin Healey Card Club (New Forest) for a while.

        Sounds like a lot of fun. Right up there with numismatic and philatelic clubs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A scarily appropriate comparison

      "*Using figures from the Daily Mail for drug costs, before you ask."

      What, reader's offers?

  3. Ru'

    "The front double wishbones and coil springs over Caterham Bilstein dampers let the wheels bounce independently" seeing as cars have had independent front suspension (even in the US!) pretty much for most people's living memory, what is the point of this sentence?

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      " ... what is the point of this sentence?"

      So they could use the words "bounce independently".

      Look, I'm a man, what am I thinking about 90% of the time?

      1. Ru'

        Re: " ... what is the point of this sentence?"

        ...So they could use the words "bounce independently"

        Oh, thanks. Must've caught me during the 1% I'm not thinking about these things. Bit tenuous though, still.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Lotus 7 design is very old and at the time it was something to behold?

  4. Disko
    Joke

    Not a word

    on fuel economy

    1. Conor Turton

      Re: Not a word

      Not a word

      on fuel economy

      If you're worried about fuel economy then you're buying the wrong car if you get this. You don't buy these cars to go eco-driving. You buy them to screw the nuts out of them on twisty B roads and the track.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: Not a word

        I had a Tiger Super Six with a very tuned engine, I could manage 20mpg if I drove it sensible and like a granny. So in reality I got about 6mpg.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Not a word

      > on fuel economy

      I heard the Motobility approved model gets good milage ...

    3. Dave Stevenson
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not a word

      (yes I did see the joke alert icon!)

      I've got a 1.6l Rover K-series powered Seven and normally get mid to high 30 MPG out of it when on the road, so actually not as hideous as it could be. Put your foot down sharpish and you can drop that number, particularly on a track.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

    ...and puts a few gauges over on their side of the dashboard.

    Nice motor, though.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

      A 100kW 1.6L is a nice motor?

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

        In something that weighs half a ton, yes, yes it would be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

          Yep, it's the weight that makes it.

          Brother in law has an R400 which he bought second hand for track day "playing" and it overtakes pretty much everything with ease. Porche's "best effort" racer for consumer purchase weighs 1.3 tons (that's the lightened version) and costs 3-4 times as much - it's very very hard to beat a Super 7 on power to weight without spending an awful lot of money.

          It's basically grown-up cart racing ...

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

        Depends on the weight. 80kW can make even 800kg go pretty good (especially with a suitable gearbox). I drive that regularly (got 2 of these - my old car, now SWMBOs, and a car we have abroad) and it rarely feels underpowered even when lugging 2 adults, 2 kids, 3 suitcases and a filler of bags, coolbox odds and sods up a 10 degree gradient.

        100Kw in 500kg is manic driving territory.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

          "100Kw in 500kg is manic driving territory."

          I'd agree that. I have about 150kW in 800kg in a kit car (five cylinders, just to be awkward) and it's, yup, manic.

          Now if only I could sort out the, um, enthusiastic torque steer...

          1. jeffdyer

            Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

            FWD Kit Car?

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

              Yeah, Quantum. It was designed for about 50kW of Ford Fiesta power.

          2. Steven Raith

            Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

            Hell, 90kw in an 1100kg car can be fun if the power delivery and chassis are right.

            And the colour is correct

            Steven "relax, it was a private road and it's the only standing start I've ever made the car do" R

      3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

        Sorry guys. I was trying to be funny but I'm not even sure where the hell it was going.

        Of course I'd jump at the opportunity to drive one of these! While my own car is slightly faster in a straight line and slightly cheaper it's never going to be as nice to throw around the track.

      4. Montreal Sean

        Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

        Have you ever driven around a track in a Formula 1600 car?

        You'll never look at a 1.6L 4 pot the same again.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: It's good to see Caterham thinks of the passenger...

      the passenger can then join in the fun by being your "engineer"...

  6. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Be seeing you...

    ... (makes peeping-through-hole hand gesture)

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    30k for a bare bones car?

    Must be nice to be able to sell on cult perception.

    Don't get me wrong, that's a very cool car, but the price is ridiculous.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: 30k for a bare bones car?

      "Don't get me wrong, that's a very cool car, but the price is ridiculous."

      Ahem: "The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys." - unknown

      And this is very much a man's toy.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: 30k for a bare bones car?

        30k with all the extras. just over half that for one that will still scare you enough if you want. If you really want to be scared shitless then buy a secondhand CBR900 for 5k that will kill you even quicker.

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Brrmm Brrmm

    I ahve driven the original Lotus 7s with a couple of different engines, 1.6 crossflow and a donor from a Mk1Lotus Cortina, I still think even today, if you like driving there is nothing that will put flies on your teeth quicker this side of a GSXR750.

    However last week I got to be a passenger in a KTM XBow, supercharged and with the KTM upgrade to somewherearound 460 GeeGees it was awsome the engine sound alone would make you wish you had compromising photos of your bank manager.

    Although faster than a 7 I will still not rate it as having a bigger grin factor because it doesn't, also new it is about £80K this one was second hand as new for only £31K so it was a steal, the KTM is a lot sexier looking than the 7 but for the price it should be, if you get a chance for a spin in one, snatch the keys before the owner can change his mind.

    I have been promised a drive in a couple of weeks time, I hope it happens.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Brrmm Brrmm

      I had a tame drive in an ATOM which was bad enough, then a passenger whilst the owner gave it some boot, that was mental enough for me. Speaking as an ex GPZ900 rider back in the 90s ive done my share of silly things but these small racers are pretty hairy when pushed.

  9. Simon Rockman

    I had a dream about this car a few nights ago

    I dreamt I was driving the blue one (the 160) and had struggled to get in with the roof on, then I'd been driving it for a bit and realised that the doors were missing and that someone must have stolen them when it was outside my house, and then I wondered how anyone would sell Caterham doors.

    1. KA1AXY

      Re: I had a dream about this car a few nights ago

      The types who steal them only think of what to do with them after they've stolen them.

      // not great minds...

    2. Ralph B

      Re: I had a dream about this car a few nights ago

      In my dreams I'd love to have a Caterham, however, for real life reasons I bought an MX5 instead.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I still want...

    ..a Tiger Z100

    http://www.tigerracing.com/z100.php

    Proper mental.

  11. Alister Silver badge

    Hang on...

    All are available in road-biased “S” or track-biased “R” versions

    Is this a typo, or British cussedness, surely "R" for Road and "S" (Sport) for track would have made more sense?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hang on...

      "R" is for Racing.

      from the Caterham website:

      The ‘S’ pack is geared towards the casual road driver and includes creature comforts such as a fully-carpeted cockpit, full windscreen, hood and side screens and leather seats.

      Meanwhile, the ‘R’ pack is more track-focused and is stuffed full of race-inspired goodies that will make every drive you take an event, whilst retaining its road car status. It includes a limited-slip differential, sports suspension, a four-point race harness and many other race-orientated upgrades.

      A few car makers use different suffixes to denote faster-than-standard versions of their cars... the Honda Civic Type-R and Mini Cooper S come to mind.

      1. Alister Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Hang on...

        from the Caterham website:

        The ‘S’ pack is geared towards the casual road driver and includes creature comforts such as a fully-carpeted cockpit, full windscreen, hood and side screens and leather seats.

        Ah, so it's "S" for civilised, then...

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Hang on...

        Jaguar have used both, just to be awkward ( XJS, XKR )

    2. PotShot

      Re: Hang on...

      (S)port & (R)acing?

  12. nedge2k

    Re: Your phone works on electricity

    Never ceases to amaze me how much of a rip off caterham are. 30k for that vs 25k for a Zenos E10 with a 200bhp engine or 25k for a Toyata GT86 if you want more creature comforts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your phone works on electricity

      Quote : "Never ceases to amaze me how much of a rip off caterham are. 30k for that vs 25k for a Zenos E10 with a 200bhp engine or 25k for a Toyata GT86 if you want more creature comforts."

      ...and the Caterham will pull down the pants of both of those on track or road. It will also be worth significantly more in 5 years time after depreciation has kicked in.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Your phone works on electricity

          but you don't NEED to get the extras, it is essentially a kit car. Simply source and put them in yourself afterwards - if you need to. Or you can get caterham to build and make sure it is safe for you if you like.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: Your phone works on electricity

      It's the difference between large scale manufacture and small scale.

      On the other hand, there are cheaper ways to make a 7 like car.

  13. s. pam
    Megaphone

    Far too little horsepower for the money!

    Pah.

    My 200Bhp Caterham is for sale, for less money!!!

    You could have far more smiles and an insanely fast Caterham SV with the VHPD racing engine for less or equal dosh with a load of spare bits and bobs. Go onto blatchat dot com and search for "2002 SV VHPD For Sale" and you'll get one heck of a deal!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Far too little horsepower for the money!

      But you'd be driving a "fat boy".

    2. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Far too little horsepower for the money!

      Only one I found was a touch over £17k?

      Not that I coudl see anymore as I don't have permisison to read the thread and I'm not signing up just to see the advert!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "Crawley 270s" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

  15. R Callan

    What have you got against the sound of triples. Do you not remember the sound of Tridents or Jotas in race trim? That unearthly howl at high revs. Yumm.

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