Caterham 420 R Born For The Track, Brilliant On The Road.
Caterham’s 420 R is a race car through and through, yet equally at home blasting along all types of roads. Jeremy Webb enjoyed himself on the back roads of Hampshire and got plenty of attention.
You know the saying, this is the most fun I have had with my clothes on?
Well driving the Caterham 420R was. At least the only one I am going to tell you about. When you have a 210BHP rear wheel drive car for a few days, it becomes your focus of attention and you want to spend as much time with it as possible. Even with a cold nip in the air, I found excuses to go for a drive. One little excursion ended up being a three-hour drive around the B roads of Hampshire.
Caterham's philosophy has always been to build lightness into their cars. This may sound odd but when you set out to keep a car as light as possible and then fit it with a powerful engine, you soon understand what this brings. Great power to weight ratio that means speed and more speed.
The car weighs just 560kg and has a power to weight ratio of 375bhp per tonne.
Handling and braking are superb too, as lack of weight means less stress on the brakes, and the ability to flick the car around at will. The 420 R, meaning R configuration is capable of 0-60mph in 3.8 secs and on to 136mph. You maybe thinking this is not a high top speed but when you are sat inches from the road, low down and exposed to the elements, your senses are heightened. Your mind tells you, you are going a lot faster than you are.
All this power from the naturally aspirated 2 litre Ford Duratec engine means the backend can step out at will, so journeys can be eventful or highly enjoyable. Your definition of which is how you set out to drive. Because the 420 can be driven sedately around town and even used to go shopping all be it with limited room for the groceries. Even with the wider bodied model option, I was in space is tight as you are hugged in your seat. But this is more a car you buy which can be driven to a track and then allowed to show off its superb mix of power, handling and balance on the circuit. Pull on a helmet, fasten the race harness and blast around to your heart's content.
The back to basics approach means there is no power steering or assistance with the clutch, so when first setting off you have to get used to driving the 420. The five-speed gearbox on the model I drove was glorious and reminded me how much fun manual cars are to drive. You are in total control of the changes and can flick up and down at will, pressing the accelerator in sync, to power out of corners.
Caterham provides a vast range of options and accessories for their cars, so owners can tailor the car to suit them. This also applies to the colours the shells can be painted. I would not mind what colour I had as I would be far too involved in driving the car and enjoy seeing the faces of others as the Caterham cars attract a lot of attention. Visually and audibly the 420 R looks and sounds superb. I would not hesitate to have one as a second vehicle, finances allowing for it.
The base model starts at £32,900 S=Sports R=Race configurations are available.
Caterham Cars. http://uk.caterhamcars.com/
Words and Photos by Jeremy Webb. More images on Roadtestsandreviews.co.uk. Instagram @jemweb