M sometimes everything just fits together: the weather, the mood, the car. The sun has prevailed, only a fine veil remains of the previously thick cloud cover. The trees on the roadside shed their green, brown and gold colored leaves. The Swabian Alb invites you to curve dance.
The Caterham Seven 485 CSR whirls up the leaves on the roadside, catches some leaves in the footwell. Others get caught between the chassis and the exhaust and are roasted there. Pebbles flicker between the semis and the carbon wheel cover. The airstream brushes through your hair. The roof is unbuttoned, the side doors are unhooked.
The focus is on the driver
You don't even need a turn signal. You could also just stick your left arm out like you would when riding a bike. But the Swabian Alb is deserted around noon. Not a soul far and wide. Like in the stadium one hour after the end of the game. Perfect conditions.
The curves are laid out in the landscape, winding to the left, to the right, tightening, opening. And the Caterham Seven 485 CSR plays with them. Light as a feather, precise like a laser, spontaneous like a reflex. You lure it with curves, turn it on using the steering wheel, watch how the snout with the two bulging eyes bends over there.
The waste heat from the engine penetrates through the gills of the hood. The air above shimmers. The body leans outwards, the 485 goes to great lengths, pushes with its rear end and hisses on the straight.
The 485 CSR (Clubsport Racing) is CaterhamsTop model for the European market. It's a sports car that is as seldom found as a four-leaf clover and which is based on a tried and tested recipe for sports cars: keep the weight low and focus on the driver.
Weight: only 580 kilograms
This red flounder weighs only 580 kilograms (empty weight), but leaves the driver behind malochen. Power steering? Brake booster? After all, they don't offer cake in a gym. The Caterham saves you the trip and the monthly costs. The three pedals demand as much from the calves as the leg press.
The CSR sucks its 240 hp (176.5 kW) from a two-liter four-cylinder. And now it's getting nostalgic, ladies and gentlemen: The maximum power only knocks on the crankshaft at 8,500 tours. In other words: The Ford Duratec engine wants to be turned like a child in a carousel. The more revolutions, the greater the fun.
Below 2,000 tours, i.e. at half throttle, the Caterham twitches and jerks in one tour. In principle, the purist behaves like a racing car. But let's be honest: the 485 CSR is one for the road. But it is almost impassable in these lower regions.
Activate sport mode, enjoy: the Ford engine wakes up after 3,000 tours, it rustles and grumbles in the front section. Just before the 4,000 mark, the exhaust flaps open. From 6,300 revolutions, 206 Newton meters spread over the rear axle. That doesn't sound like much at first, but one of the Caterham's still feels a lot of respect.
Trucks like skyscrapers
Just as the eyes eat while eating, so do the ears when driving a sports car. The screams get louder with every turn, the noise more and more intense, the four-cylinder screeches tinny from above. You wear the rear fenders practically like shoulder pads, feel like part of the rear axle, drag your butt on the asphalt. Low-flying has rarely aroused such great feelings.
You sit in such a Seven maybe 15 to 20 centimeters above the ground. You look under the guardrail. You stare at the wheelhouses of our photo vehicle, a Volvo V60 Polestar. Trucks are skyscrapers against him. You go around it with a wide arc. Better safe than sorry. But with every straight line, with every curve you get closer to the Seven, gain more and more trust, put aside your worries and enter into a friendly relationship with him.
Getting started is a procedure. First you put your right leg in the footwell. Then you crouch down, slip in with your upper body first, and let yourself fall onto the leather seat in carbon look before you pull your left leg along. Everything is much easier if you lift the feather-light doors using the two bolts and put down the emergency cover. The Momo steering wheel can also be removed. Peel it in like a racing car, then put the steering wheel back on. It has to click into place twice before it can start. The removable steering wheel has a second advantage: There is no better theft protection.
Low-flying aircraft with residual comfort
In the dictionary, next to the word 'ancient' there could be a picture of Seven. The steering wheel does not have an airbag. The round instruments with the dark gray dials, the white needles and numbers are analog. The only digital thing is the odometer. The windshieldhold four screws. The dashboard, covered in Alcantara, has no touchscreen, but only two round instruments and 13 switches - for indicators, windshield wipers and the headlights.
It vibrates in the cockpit, you shiver with it while the CSR slams across the autobahn. You watch how the front wheels rebound on bumps as they plunge into potholes. A wishbone at the top, a wishbone at the bottom, internal Eibach dampers that are activated via push rods: all of this seems so far away and yet feels so immediate. Because the front section makes up two thirds of the vehicle, but on the other hand you can see and feel every movement.
The four-cylinder catapults the Seven up to 225 km /h. Without a windshield, even 240 km /h are possible. The CSR does not start to fidget at high speeds. Under the dashboard, hot air flows into the cockpit, heats up the driver - and mixes in a bit of the smell of gasoline.
The low-flying plane can take the motorway, but it prefers to let off steam on the country road. We look for more curves, sweep over them and enjoy. The Caterham Seven 485 CSR does not put a filter over its actions, but merges them with the reaction. With your right hand you balance the gray gear stick through the three to four centimeters short alleys. It cracks, the stick clicks into place, there is a diabolical crash in the exhaust on the right flank. Fourth gear, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, 8,000: the vacuum chases the speed, bang, next gear.
Even in the city, the Caterham retains the remaining comfort. Radio? There is not any. Sat nav? The driver has to search the streets himself: Flashback to old times. Such a Caterham sees itself as a place of refuge in a digitized world. A third or fourth car when everything just needs to be right again on a sunny day.