While today’s roadsters may be more powerful than ever, as cars continue to become further sophisticated the basic driving experience becomes ever diluted. Caterham comes to the rescue with a new base model Seven. The Caterham Seven 160 is free of all the ‘drive-by-wire’ technology of modern cars, in-fact there is very little of anything.
The 160 is powered by a tiny turbocharged 660cc three-cylinder engine made by Suzuki and more commonly seen in vehicles shuck as the Wagen R, Jimny and Alto for the Japanese market. With extensive tuning by Caterham the power output is increased from 64hp to 80hp while also boosting fuel economy and reducing vehicle emissions. This lightweight engine slots into a pared down chassis providing nimble handling and sprightly performance taking it from 0-60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. The top speed is 100 mph which is probably plenty for a car that brings you so close to the elements.
Like the original Lotus Sevens the 160 uses steel wheels and simple live-axle rear suspension which along with skinny tyres should make it an entertaining drive. Inside the the dashboard is race car simple with dials and rocker switches while the high transmission tunnel separating the two bucket seats houses a five speed manual gearbox.
The 160 is launched with the UK market in mind while a 165 model will also be made for the Continental Europe countries that require the EU5 emissions standards.
It is usually the case with roadsters that the most basic, unsophisticated model is the best to drive and this may be the case with the new seven. The Caterham Seven 160 is priced from £14,995 GBP in component form for those who enjoy bolting together their new car while a fully built car comes in at £17,995 GBP. Production is expected to start in January 2014, with the first cars being delivered in the Spring.
Click here to see the Caterham Cars in our Buyers Guide.
BMW have officially released the first images of the new 4-Series Convertible which will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The BMW 4-Series replaces the 3-Series Coupe and Convertible with the aim of setting these more sporting cars apart from the 4 door 3-Series cars. It will initially be offered in the US as the 428i and 435i with a 420d diesel engined alternative added for the European market.
The BMW 4-Series Convertible continues the use of a folding hardtop roof that divides into 3 pieces and is stored in the top half of the luggage space. BMW have increased the sound deadening to further cut wind noise when the roof is up. The roof folds in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 11 mph. BMW have followed Mereceds-Benz with the use of hot air blowers mounted into the front seats to warm the occupants on chilly days, potentially increasing the number of occasions the roof can be dropped.
While it may not look a great deal different from the car it replaces the 4- Series is longer, wider and lower to the road. Like the Coupe the BMW 4-Series Convertible will be offered in a choice of 5 trim levels (SE, Sport, Luxury, Modern and M Sport), but limited to 3 for the US: Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport. The M Sport trim seen here gives us some clues to what the up-coming BMW M4 Convertible might look like. The well appointed interior has changed little from the coupe. Luggage space is cavernous with room for large cases or a set of golf clubs even with the roof down. BMW have added a button to electronically raise the roof a little to aid access when folded.
In order to improve emissions and fuel economy BMW are increasingly using turbo-chargers with smaller sized engines and despite impressive performance figures the 4-Series has followed this trend. Unlike the straight six cylinder engine of past 328i models the 428i has a TwinPower Turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder while the 435i gets a TwinPower Turbo 3.0-litre inline six. Each will have the 8-speed sport automatic transmission as standard, at least in America and the 428i comes with the option of the XDrive all-wheel drive system. The 435i will manage 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds while still offering a combined mpg of 37.7.
As BMWs become more sophisticated and technology-packed the challenge to keep the feeling of a raw, driving machine becomes greater. As a result of the added tech the convertible weighs in at 1,755kg for the 420d and 428i and a hefty 1,815kg for the 435i. BMW promise sophisticated chassis technology and near perfect 50:50 weight distribution but we’ll have to see how it performs when we get the chance to test drive one.
The BMW 4-Series Convertible will be available to buy from Spring 2014 with prices ranging from $48,750 USD for the rear-drive, 428i Convertible and £36,675 GBP for the 420d.
Australian owned Moke International have returned the classic Moke shape to production with a discretely modernised design. The minimalist concept remains but a modern drive-train with a choice of manual or automatic gearbox and a better braking system bring things up to date. The cars will be available in both left and right hand drive. Manufacturing is being done in China by Chery International and Sicar Engineering.
The classic BMC Mini Moke first went into production in the early 1960s as a utility vehicle based around standard Mini mechanics. The initial aim was to target military and commercial users, however its lack of ground clearance limited acceptance. Unexpectedly it caught on as a fashionable passenger car with thanks not least for featuring in the cult TV series The Prisoner. The lack of weatherproofing limited sales for the British climate and BMC (later Leyland) found warmer climates more suitable. The Moke became popular as a hire car on island holiday locations around the world. Production moved to Australia until 1981 whereupon it uprooted again for Portugal where sales finally dried up in 1993.
Moke International aim to begin sales some twenty years later starting with Australia with the car soon to be available in Thailand and the Caribbean with further distributors being sought around the world.
Mecum’s Chicago auction will be offering a unique classic Corvette which was the personal car of one of the most influential car designers in history.
Harley Earl is one of the great icons of the car industry and perhaps the most influential person in American car design. He had a ground-breaking ability to understand the power of aspirational car design. In addition to inventing, among others, the concept car and the 1950s tail fin he is also responsible for the development of the Corvette. Initially developed as a secret design project it got the go-ahead for production and went on sale in 1953. Harley Earl continued to develop the car until he retired in 1958.
Five years later General Motors saw fit to recognise Earl’s achievements by presenting him with this one-off 1963 Corvette Convertible. He kept the car at his Florida home and used it as his daily drive for two years including use as the parade car at the 1965 Daytona 500 when he served as Grand Marshall.
The factory styled blue Stingray Convertible is one of only four built with the custom side exhaust system. It also has a unique dashboard with dials for both the driver and passenger. The car which has been confirmed authentic by GM has been restored to the same specifications as when it was presented to its original owner.
The car is due to be auctioned at the Schaumburg Convention Center, Chicago auction among a 1000 car lineup between October 10th-12th 2013.
As the Mercedes-Benz G-Class finally comes towards the end of its production lifespan, a range of final editions are being launched and perhaps the most desirable is the Mercedes-Benz G-Class Cabriolet Final Edition 200.
Although only ever built in small quantities the Mercedes G-Class Cabriolet has been in production for 34 years giving it classic status. The Final Edition 200 is a long way from the utilitarian original however with its metallic black exterior paintwork, power roof and leather and poplar wood trim. The design interior features sand colour faced black heated seats as standard along with matching diamond stitched leather on the doors and an AMG performance steering wheel. When the weather allows the sound and heat insulated beige fabric roof will fold away behind the two rear seats in 30 seconds. A chrome finished radiator grille and titanium grey 5-spoke alloy wheels finish the look.
Powered by a 5.5 litre V8 engine the G-Class Cabriolet has plenty of power and despite its opulent cabin is still an impressive off-road performer with a low range ratio and locks on all 3 differentials.
The sad news is that the end of the line has been reached with all 200 of the Final Edition already sold.
Caterham launched their new concept car today at the Singapore Grand Prix and have given an insight into their roadmap for the future.
The new Caterham AeroSeven Concept is a thoroughly modern take on the kind of sports cars Caterham have made for the last 40 years. While it may look like an all-new car underneath the carbon-fibre skin is the very capable Seven CSR platform and the 240ps (237bhp) engine developed by Caterham Technology & Innovation for the recently launched Caterham Seven 485.
The AeroSeven Concept, which draws heavily on production methods used by the F1 team, will also be the first ever Caterham model to be fitted with traction control. Good or bad this Caterham moving into the 21st century. The clamshell body styling also indicates a potential pathway for future cars.
The Group Co-Chairman, Tony Fernandes told that they aim to develop the name into a global car brand with not only sports cars but also crossovers and city cars among their range. Perhaps a development of their relationship with Renault from which a new sportscar will be created for both the Alpine and Caterham brands.
The new concept however shows that they do not intend to leave behind their established customer base and aim to develop “a range of accessible sportscars for the lifestyle buyer to the thrill-seeker”.
Sophisticated electronics feature heavily for the first time in a Caterham with the AeroSeven with fully variable traction and launch control functions, a dashboard graphical display unit and a race-inspired steering wheel incorporating ‘Road’ mode, ‘Flash-to-Pass’ and ‘Pit Lane Speed Limiter’ functions. Caterham is also analysing the feasibility of using Bosch’s race-derived anti-lock braking system.