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Details Emerge On Caterham's New Model Plans


Caterham Supersport

Caterham Supersport

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Last September we told you that Caterham, builders of iconic-and-minimalist Lotus 7-based roadsters, had formed a new standalone engineering venture called Caterham Technology and Innovation, Limited (CTI).

CTI will undertake advanced projects for automotive and aerospace customers, it will design new roadster models based on the current Caterham 7 and it will also develop an entirely new sports car line, to broaden Caterham’s global appeal.

As CAR explains, the new sports car model will be a radical departure for Caterham. It will use both a fixed roof and doors, and will ultimately be produced in coupe, convertible and a yet-to-be-named variant.  Caterham insists that the car will be all-new from the ground up, and not based on the existing Seven.

The challenge for CTI is designing a car with modern amenities, that still stays trues to Caterham’s light-and-affordable design philosophy.  That said, don’t expect them to be watered-down versions of the Seven, performance-wise.

Ansar Ali, Caterham head, told the British magazine, “Our cars are going to be raw; they’re going to be drivers’ cars.” Ali said of existing models, “They are a real experience to drive and there’s a lot of drama, which we want replicated in any future product.”

Just don’t look for that drama in the United States, since the limited market doesn’t justify the cost of federalization. In other words, the new Caterham sports cars may have available air conditioning, but they won’t necessarily have the advanced airbags and electronic stability control required to sell cars in the United States. On the plus side, we will get a spec racing series using Caterham SP/300.R race cars in 2013.

Since Caterham doesn’t have an existing “design language,” the company has approached several design firms to pen both a new car and a new style. Design proposals have been submitted, but nothing has been finalized as of yet.

Expect the cars to be two-seaters, with a curb weight below 2,200 pounds. Ali would prefer a front engine, rear-drive layout, but a mid-engine, rear-drive layout is also being considered. Power will likely come from four-cylinder engines to keep weight down, and expect higher-trim versions to get forced induction.

Caterham has a lot on its plate these days (including running the former Lotus F1 Team, now called the Caterham F1 Team), so don’t expect to see a prototype before 2013. If the project stays on schedule, the new Caterham model should hit the market in 2015, built in a yet-to-be constructed U.K. factory.
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