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Caterham hopes for F1-inspired sales boost

Well catered: The Roadsport SV 175 is one of four Caterhams offered in Australia.

Two-year sales drought broken for Caterham in Oz as F1 team arrives at Albert Park

15 Mar 2012

AFTER a two-year sales drought in Australia, British kit-car brand Caterham, which keeps alive the concept of Colin Chapman’s iconic Lotus Seven road-going racecar, is looking forward to making at least four local deliveries in 2012.

Awareness of the brand is likely to build with its debut as a race team in the Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne this weekend, just as its future in Australia comes into question while the government decides whether to impose mandatory electronic stability control (ESC) on low-volume manufacturers.

The local importer has made some adjustments to the line-up, which now opens at $57,275 plus on-road costs for the Roadsport SV 120 (up $2795).

Caterham Australia’s range tops out at $89,465 for the track-oriented Superlight R300 SV, which has received a specification upgrade in return for a $4110 price increase.

The Roadsport SV 175 and CSR 175 remain priced at $73,510 and $85,435 respectively.

Importer for Caterham cars in Australia, Chris van Wyk, who sells Caterhams in factory-built form only, told GoAuto that the resumption of sales appeared to be inspired by the switch to Caterham signage on the former Team Lotus F1 cars.

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“Since then we started taking orders,” he said. “I don’t know if it was coincidence but I am very excited with the Caterham team making its debut at the Australian grand prix this weekend and I hope that will help the brand-building.”

Additional to the single Caterham registered in February, Mr van Wyk expects another to arrive later this month.

“We have two more in production so we will score at least four this year,” he said. “If I could do six a year that would be terrific.”

The cars sold comprise two CSR 175s, a Roadsport SV 175 and a Superlight R300 SV, all of which are powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ford Duratec petrol engine producing 125kW of peak power and 177Nm of torque.

No buyers have yet gone for the entry-level 85kW/155Nm Roadsport SV 120 variant, which is powered by an efficient 1.6-litre Ford engine that dodges the luxury car tax.

The 590kg Roadsport SV 120 cracks triple-digit speeds in six seconds and can achieve a 190km/h top speed, while the more powerful but 10kg heavier Roadsport SV 175 completes the sprint in 4.9 seconds and can reach 205km/h.

Roadsport models are designed to offer slightly more road-going practicality without sacrificing too much in the way of racetrack ability, while the Superlight is a more uncompromising track tool.

Caterham’s quickest product in Australia is the Superlight SV R300, which weighs just 540kg including fluids and can blast to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds on the way to a v-max of 212km/h.

Australian customers are not offered the ballistic R400 or R500, which get tuned-up versions of the R300’s engine, reducing the respective 0-100km/h times to 3.8 seconds – or a blistering 2.88 seconds.

The most technically advanced Caterham sold here is the CSR 175, with its aerodynamic advancements, F1-style inboard front suspension, adjustable anti-roll bar and fully independent rear suspension.

Caterham says the CSR’s unique suspension set-up provides improved ride comfort and traction while its status as the most evolved version of the original Lotus Seven design helps it to provide similar versatility to the Roadsport models.

Its 625kg weight blunts the performance of the Ford engine a little, but 100km/h still comes up in a respectable five seconds and its top speed is just a fraction lower than the Superlight.

2012 Caterham Seven pricing:
Roadsport SV 120$57,275 (up $2795)
Roadsport SV 175$73,510 (no change)
CSR 175$85,435 (no change)
Superlight R300 SV$89,465 (up $4110)

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