2018 Caterham 620S review
Our Rating

4/5

2018 Caterham 620S review

Caterham's more forgiving version of its range-topping, hardcore R is here, but how does it cope on the road? We find out.

Introduction

Gotta go fast? Unless you’re a blue hedgehog, then you’d usually have to part with a fair amount of money. Take a look at the Bugatti Veyron —  its’s famously one of the quickest cars ever built but cost the best part of £2 million.  Too steep for you? Well, there’s always the Caterham way. The 620S that we have here can hit 60mph in under four seconds — yet costs a comparatively meagre £44,995.

The 620S we had featured the SV chassis, which makes the vehicle wider and more accessible to taller drivers. In addition, the lightweight sports car gets a smattering of design cues to help it stand out from the crowd, including a nose with an air intake embedded in it – an easy way to differentiate this car from the rest of the Seven range. The biggest changes from the standard Seven here are mechanical; the 620S’ supercharged motor is supremely powerful (we’ll get to that), while the S pack brings a softer, more road-focused suspension setup than the one you’ll find on the more hardcore R version.

Performance

The 620S’ engine is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a 2.0-litre supercharged unit, producing 310bhp and 296Nm of torque.

Ok, so you can buy premium saloons with more power, but bear in mind the Caterham weighs just 610kg — resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 508bhp per tonne. That’s more than the Ferrari Enzo or McLaren 650S —simply a breath-taking at this price point. All that fury is sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and can power the 620S to a top speed of 145mph.

Ride & Handling

Behind the wheel, the 620S can only be described as a dramatic experience.  Seriously well-tuned steering means minimal hand movements on the wheel to direct the Caterham exactly where you want it. The five-speed gearbox is smooth to operate (though can feel notchy when cold), while the softer suspension is exactly as you’d want on UK roads – not too firm for the bumps, but not so soft as to leave the car feeling wallowy.

Then there’s the performance. Nothing can prepare you for the way a car with over 300bhp and weighing just 610kg fires itself down the road. The twin-outlet exhaust howls in a close to demonic way, rising to a near-deafening tone under heavy acceleration. There’s very few cars quite like it on the road today.

Interior & Equipment 

Much like anything else in Caterham’s range, the 620S doesn’t offer a lot in the way of creature comforts. The S pack does bring a heater — boosting the car’s comfort levels — while a 12V socket means that you can charge a smartphone – though that’s about it. The biggest benefit from the inclusion of the S pack is a full windscreen, hood and sidescreens, which all make the car far more useable in typical British weather.

The lack of any real features doesn’t make the Seven’s cabin a dull place to be, however. The driving position is spot-on, while the carbon-fibre dash looks and feels well-made. The variety of toggle switches may be difficult to decipher at first but using them soon becomes second nature after time.

There are swathes of options to choose from if you want a little luxury. Heated carbon-fibre seats will no doubt appeal to those who want to be a little warmer, while that wider SV chassis is a good option for those who want a little more space in the cabin. In truth, anyone over six foot will struggle for room in a ‘regular’ Caterham, which is why the SV chassis is such a handy option.

Cost 

This isn’t the place to go if economy is high on the shopping list. The 620S will return an estimated 30mpg on the combined cycle, though this will drop harshly under heavy driving — and if you own a Caterham, we expect that to happen a lot. That said, the S model benefits from a larger fuel tank than other Seven models – so touring is a more viable prospect. 

As mentioned, you don’t get a lot of toys for your money. The key attributes are all mechanical – the car’s overall cost is spent on the engine, chassis and gearbox. As standard, you get a lovely Momo steering wheel, black leather seats and a four-point racing harness, as well as the previously mentioned windscreen and sidescreens. The 15-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in sticky ZZS tyres, while a limited-slip differential comes as standard too.

Verdict

The Caterham 620S is a genuine giant killer, capable of taking down nearly any supercar on sale today. However, if you want something that can deliver big thrills without the razor-sharp edge you’ll find in the 620S, cheaper offerings in Caterham’s range can provide that.

Though the 620S benefits from many features designed to make it more comfortable, it remains overwhelmingly spiky to drive, with traction close to non-existent in the wet. Though a shade under £45,000 may seem good value considering the performance, in truth you’d be just as happy with a lower-powered Caterham at half that price.

 

The stats

Model: Caterham 620S

Price: £44,995

Power (bhp): 310

Torque (Nm): 296

Top speed (mph): 145

0-60mph: 3.4 seconds

MPG (combined): N/A

Emissions (g/km): N/A

Road tester: Jack Evans

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