Is it fast?
Any object that weighs roughly the same as 10 petite ladies and that comes with 140 horses-worth of thrust is going to be fast. Terrifically fast. And so it is that the Supersport’s 1.6-litre Sigma engine will throw the 7 to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds. Because it’s geared for sprinting, the Supersport tops out at 120mph.
Is it sexy
We’ll call the 7 classic-looking, not sexy. Either way, the Supersport is a car that gets noticed everywhere and by everyone. It’s about as low as a Range Rover wheel is tall, and as unrefined to look at as Rooney – that’s no bad thing, however; the Supersport is a track day tool, not a Chelsea tractor, much in the same way that Rooney’s a talented right foot, not a scholar.
What’s it like to drive?
With so much focus placed on the 7 as a driver’s car and track day weapon, it’s unsurprisingly one of the most involving machines you’ll ever drive. Traction control, power steering, ABS and automatic headlights? Give over. Not even the bucket seats have any padding, so the behaviour of the Supersport is totally in your hands.
Luckily, the Supersport works with you, rather than against you. The pin-sharp and rapid steering makes every change of direction instant and telegraphs every bump and crease in the road through your fingertips. The SS’s solid race-prepped suspension allows the 7 to change direction fearlessly and with zero (and I mean zero) body roll.
Once you’re used to the tight five-speed sprint-ratio ‘box (this takes a few miles to adjust to) and small pedal box, you’ll quickly reap the benefits. Acceleration is brutal, loud and brilliantly manly, and the way the SS tackles corners is simply mind-boggling; sticky tyres combined with steering and suspension like this means you can push hard through bends, but when you do want to play, a solid right-foot stab will get the tail out in an instant. Because it’s so balanced and light, the 7′s an incredibly easy car to control a drift with, which makes driving it even more pleasing and involving.
How about the inside?
Right, where to start. There’s a radio, two airbags, a few switches and dials, four point harnesses and a tiny (removable) steering wheel. The seats are no more than composite shells (so bring a cushion for longer journeys) and the doors are made out of plastic. To expect any more equipment from a car like this would be like ordering a triple-shot espresso, then adding three sugars, cream and powdered chocolate.
Will my mates rate it?
The question should be: are your mates brave enough to get in with you? If so, then yes, they will think that the Supersport is the fastest, most exhilarating car on the planet. The noise, the acceleration and the way this thing scrubs off speed in an instant will get anyone’s heart rate into triple figures within seconds. The fact that you sit so impossibly low also helps to magnify the experience; 30mph feels like 50mph, 70mph feels like 100mph and so on…
Show me three used alternatives
For driving purity, it takes a lot to top the Series 1 Elise 111S. Introduced in 1999, the Rover K-Series 1.8 produced 143bhp giving the Elise a 0-62mph time of 5.4sec and a top speed of 134mph. Around £10k gets you a tidy 2000 model.
Like the idea of the Lotus, but after a little more poke? The Elise-based VXR220 will set your pants on fire, then slap you in the face. Its turbocharged 2.0 produces 217bhp (this one’s been tuned to 246bhp) giving the VXR a 0-62mph time of just 4.2sec and a top speed of 149mph. Around £15,750 bags you one.
Amazingly, there is a vehicle out there that’s more basic than the back-to-basics Caterham. The Ariel Atom really is a track day rocket thanks to its 158bhp Honda engine (0-62mph in 4.5sec) and no-frills approach to life. A 2005 model like this will set you back £19k. Tempting.Caterham 7 Supersport Review: Driving In Its Purest Form,