Caterham technical director Jez Coates doesn’t look happy. He wasn’t particularly pleased about adding a windscreen to his 495kg Superlight (an £855, 14.4kg option), but add my, ahem, 100kg-ish bulk and its 283bhp per tonne drops to under 230.
No matter, this is still a very quick car, though not in the universe-rearranging manner of the loonier R400s and R500s. Also different to more extreme Caterhams are the tyres. The 13in rims look tiny, but 175-section rubber provides just the right amount of grip to exploit the Superlight’s delicate balance. Talk of oversteer and understeer is largely irrelevant, because with adjustable spring seats and anti-roll bar means it’ll do either depending on your individual setup.
If it looks familiar, that’s because the Superlight was first introduced a decade ago, but as more powerful versions arrived the basic car dropped off the price list. With the R400 and R500 replaced by the new CSR, demand for a cheaper trackday Caterham has returned, and so has the Superlight.But it’s not a clone of the original. A stock 1.8-litre K-series replaces the old car’s tuned 1.6. The headline figures are little altered –140bhp and 124lb ft plays 138bhp and 118lb ft - but where tuned K-series lumps often tend to cough and stutter around town, this one feels docile and tractable as a base-model MG TF’s.