Caterham gets Suzuki power

Caterham has confirmed that its new entry-level Seven will be powered by a three-cylinder 660cc Suzuki engine, not the Ford Ecoboost we tried out last year. Set to cost less than £17,000, Caterham claims the new model will be the 'lightest Seven ever', not to mention the most efficient too.

Take the live axle from this (possibly)...
Take the live axle from this (possibly)...
The turbocharged Suzuki motor has been breathed upon by Caterham Technology & Innovation and while it all sounds quite high tech the firm is making much of the back to basics approach of the new car. And when Caterham says basic you can bet that's exactly what it means.

"We needed a particularly light powertrain but it had to be a unit that suited the characteristics inherent to all Sevens," says Caterham boss Graham Macdonald in the press release announcing the car. "Suzuki is a leader in producing compact vehicles with extremely efficient engines and that is clearly a shared passion. Thankfully, after lots of hard work, we have a package that works brilliantly."

Numbers are sparse in the Caterham press release but Macdonald does say: "Unfussy and easy to run, it is designed to give a neutral, supple ride yet carrying the sporting edge and turn-of-speed expected from any Seven."

...and add the turbo 660cc three-cyl from this...
...and add the turbo 660cc three-cyl from this...
We wanted more information though, so we pestered Caterham. And we got some additional technical information, revealing that the new car has 'carry over' Seven S3 narrow track front suspension and a relocated steering rack to - depending who you ask - 'refine steering feel' or make room for the intercooler.

It also reveals that the new car will use a Suzuki-sourced live axle fitted with CTI designed trailing arms and Panhard rod, which explains one way in which costs have been kept down.

So how much power will it actually have? Well, it'd seem Caterham has had a right old rummage around the Suzuki parts bin and a protracted virtual equivalent on the firm's Japanese website here in the PH office leads us to believe the engine is the turbocharged version of the K6A three-cylinder fitted to a range of JDM Kei cars. In standard form it makes 52hp and 56lb ft, the turbocharged version used in the Lapin and Wagon R Stingray (yeah!) upping that to a heady 64hp and 70lb ft. And that beam axle? Well, the pint-sized Carry pick-up has a dinky leaf-sprung, live-axle set-up, five-speed manual and uses a version of the K6A engine... create an affordable, back to basics Seven create an affordable, back to basics Seven
Now, if Caterham can get the new car to sub-500kg (an R500 is officially 505kg, a basic Roadsport 1.6 550kg) to live up to that 'lightest Seven ever' design goal that equates to 128hp per tonne with that 64hp at a nominal 500kg, compared with 228hp per tonne for a 125hp 1.6 Roadsport. But you'd have to hope CTI can tickle a bit more power out of it and in the additional info supplied the car is referred to as the 'C180'. That'd mean 90hp at 500kg as a ballpark but even 80hp and 150-160hp per tonne would have it on a par with a GT86 or MX-5 and, in a stripped back Seven, enough to have some fun.

More concrete information when we have it but if you're keen orders open in the autumn with first deliveries before the year is out. The official release can be seen here.



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Comments (297) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Rakoosh 06 Aug 2013

    I'm not a power mad type person and well into the whole add lightness but that sounds a little low... hopefully the super charger adds a bit more oomph to that?

    Not saying you need it necessarily but would be nice...

  • photoangell 06 Aug 2013

    A slightly later version of the engine fitted to the Suzuki Cappuccino - great fun little engine and plenty of tuning scope. Will be interesting to find out exactly how and where Caterham have breathed on it.

  • huwp 06 Aug 2013

    Having run a 125 Sigma powered 7 for the last 6 years with 228 bhp/ton I can't see much attraction in the power-to-weight ratio quoted in the article for a car with the Suzuki engine.

    Still, if Caterham think there's a market for it good luck to them.

  • TheRoadWarrior 06 Aug 2013

    ph said:
    In standard form it makes 52hp and 56lb ft, the turbocharged version used in the Lapin and Wagon R Stingray (yeah!) upping that to a heady 64hp and 70lb ft.
    12hp from boosting the engine, is it even worth it??

  • ewenm 06 Aug 2013

    Looks like a good entry point to Caterham ownership. I suspect Caterham hope owners will later upgrade to one of the R-cars.

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