Luxury car manufacturer Rolls-Royce has revealed its first electric vehicle and pledged to phase out combustion engines by 2030.
The car will be called Spectre and is expected to go on sale in late 2023.
Through teaser images released today, it’s clear that the Spectre will be a two-door coupe with a very similar body shape to the current Wraith. However, the details of its design are hidden by a graphic with a famous quote from company co-founder Charles Rolls.
As part of the BMW Group, the company could have accessed the new electric vehicle platform being developed by the German firm, but instead it has stuck with its own architecture.
Rather than build bespoke EV underpinnings, the aluminium architecture that debuted on the Phantom in 2017 – and also used on the Cullinan and Ghost – will be adopted by the Spectre. It was developed from the outset to be able to accommodate combustion engines as well as alternative forms of propulsion.
Powertrain details have not yet been revealed. However, because Rolls-Royce doesn’t like to share parts with other manufacturers, it’s unlikely it will directly borrow the latest electric motors and batteries developed for the new BMW iX SUV.
That being said, it’s likely that these will form the basis of the Spectre’s powertrain system, but with Rolls-Royce-specific software settings. The top-spec iX makes 516bhp and 765Nm of torque, with a range of over 340 miles.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chief Executive Officer, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, said: “Today is the most significant day in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since May 4, 1904. On that date, our founding fathers, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce, first met and agreed that they were going to create ‘the best motor car in the world’.
“Today, 117 years later, I am proud to announce that Rolls-Royce is to begin the on-road testing programme for an extraordinary new product that will elevate the global all-electric car revolution and create the first – and finest – super-luxury product of its type. This is not a prototype. It’s the real thing, it will be tested in plain sight and our clients will take first deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2023.”
Rolls-Royce has been experimenting with electric powertrains in recent years, building the 102EX and 103EX concepts. It says these prompted questions from clients asking when a production version would come, as electric power is the ‘perfect fit’ for Rolls-Royce.
Another day, another new electric vehicle. However, while it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the new zero-emissions models being released right now, this one’s actually quite important. That’s because the iX is BMW’s flagship electric SUV. It’s the one that showcases all of the technological advances and what we can expect from the firm’s future EVs.
Each manufacturer seems to be taking a slightly different strategy with its new wave of EVs, and for BMW that means creating the ‘i’ sub-brand. The iX will sit at the top of the SUV branch, which currently has only the iX3 below it.
The BMW iX is new from the ground up, with a new platform designed to be used solely by electric vehicles. This means it can be designed for optimal placement of the batteries and motors, which improves weight distribution and interior space.
It also uses a mix of materials to keep weight low while retaining strength, as well as using more sustainably sourced materials as part of the firm’s new sustainability focus. As the technology flagship, it boasts hugely impressive technology, from advanced driver assistance to the latest infotainment system.
Power comes from two electric motors, one on each axle, which provide all-wheel-drive. There are two versions available, called xDrive40 and xDrive 50. The former has a power output of 321bhp and 630Nm of torque, while the latter (which we’re testing today) has 516bhp and 720Nm of torque.
Considering the fact that this is a big, heavy SUV, that power output does a great job of catapulting it forward – the 0-60mph sprint takes just 4.4 seconds – with the instant torque giving it that ultra-responsive punch of performance we’ve come to love from electric motors.
It has big batteries with a huge range, too. The xDrive40 has a 76.6kWh battery with a range of 231 to 264 miles, while the xDrive50 has a massive 111.5kWh capacity providing a range of 341 to 391 miles. They can be charged at 150kW and 195kW respectively, giving a 10-80 per cent charge time of just over half an hour for both.
Heavy batteries mean electric vehicle suspension tends to be very stiff to deal with the weight. However, BMW must have employed suspension engineers with degrees from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry because magic is the only explanation for how an electric SUV can ride this well.
This is probably the best-riding EV on the market right now. BMW-owned Rolls-Royce is announcing its first EV this week and I wouldn’t be surprised if the pair have worked together on air suspension technology that has ended up in the iX – it’s that good.
Away from the magic carpet ride, the iX is a generally pleasant steer. There isn’t too much body roll in corners so it’s actually quite fun to drive down a twisting road, while the steering is light enough to make urban driving a breeze. It’s also surprisingly relaxing in heavy traffic thanks to the high driving position and plenty of glass that improves visibility.
When it comes to the iX’s styling, it’s probably best described as challenging. If you’re looking at the photos and thinking hideous might be a better description you wouldn’t be alone, but the general consensus amongst those attending the launch in Munich is that it looks much better in person – and it actually grew on many of us over our two days with the cars.
Its best angle is at the rear, where the designers have been uncharacteristically restrained. Here you can see its wide wheel arches, while the slim tail lights give it an ultra-modern look. The front takes more getting used to, but its proportions are all in check, with the sharp lines giving it an aggressive look.
The side profile is less successful, with the rear section above the wheels in particular being an awkwardly large bulge of featureless metal.
While the exterior might be an acquired taste, the interior will win you over from the moment you jump inside. The iX feels huge inside, owing to the flat-floor construction and tall sides. The dashboard also looks like it stretches out miles ahead of you behind the ultra-wide screens.
The materials are all of the highest quality and the driving position is absolutely spot on with loads of steering wheel adjustment.
Those screens are the highlight, though. They debut the next generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with improved touchscreen operation and voice control features. The curved display has two screens, one replacing the traditional instrument binnacle and the other being the infotainment system – they both work fantastically well, with intuitive operation and high resolutions.
With the iX pitched as BMW’s new flagship electric vehicle, it had lofty targets to hit. It’s fair to say it’s achieved every single one of them. Not only is it supremely comfortable but it’s also surprisingly fun on a winding road, while the xDrive50 model provides exhilarating performance in particular.
The high-performance model also has a hugely impressive range that should provide comfortably more than 300 miles per charge in real world driving, while also being spacious, premium and technologically advanced inside.
If the only thing putting you off is the way it looks, we’d recommend going to see one in the metal. It’s not the prettiest SUV on the market, but it’s certainly a grower – and if you’re still not keen the driving experience should make up for it.
Honda has announced that its latest Civic Type R will arrive next year.
It’s the first time that the company has confirmed the existence of a new model, though has been very limited with any details surrounding the upcoming Type R.
In a small post, Honda revealed just two pictures of the new model wearing heavy camouflage, along with the caption ‘Development of the best performing Honda Civic Type R continues’.
The new Type R will now be put through performance testing at Germany’s Nurburgring. The ‘Green Hell’ has become the benchmark testing ground for performance models.
Though Honda has yet to announce further details regarding the new Type R’s powertrain, it is believed to do without any form of electrification. Instead, it’s most likely an adaptation of the current car’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, albeit with additional power and torque.
Despite the heavy disguise, it’s easy to see some of the Type R’s aerodynamic features. At the rear sits an uber-large wing – just as its predecessor had – while the Civic’s now-iconic three-outlet exhaust is present and correct too.
Given that the next-generation standard Civic has yet to arrive in Europe, it’s likely that the Type R will hit the road sometime in the middle of 2022.
Seat has tweaked its compact Arona crossover. TED WELFORD finds out what it’s like.
The compact crossover segment really is about fit to burst, with nearly every mainstream manufacturer offering something in this market. Yet – just like how you can always make room for pudding – there’s space for more, with the Hyundai Bayon and Toyota Yaris Cross arriving in the last few months alone.
But with so much competition, a crossover really needs to be good to stand out. That’s something Seat’s Arona has never struggled with, with its fun driving experience and smart styling tempting thousands of customers to buy it since its launch at the end of 2017. Yet, with no real updates since then, the Arona was just starting to show its age in places – hence this update.
Refreshed at the exact same time as the Ibiza supermini – which the Arona is based on – even in terms of facelifts, this is a rather mild one. While we’ll explore the design changes later, the main one is that the front fog lights are moved higher up, nearer the grille.
Inside, things get a revamp with the Arona getting a new touchscreen with the same interface as the one you get on the latest Leon. Boasting a slicker-looking display and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s certainly a welcome addition to the Arona.
In true Volkswagen Group fashion, the Arona gets no changes to the engine line-up, with a range of 1.0- and 1.5-litre petrol options to choose from varying in power from 94bhp to 148bhp. The most powerful option is restricted to the sportier FR trim levels.
Our test car is the version that’s predicted to be the best-seller – a 108bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, which we’re trying with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, though a six-speed manual is available.
Its 0-60mph time of 10.6 seconds is respectable, while flat out it would reach 118mph. In terms of efficiency, Seat claims it will achieve around 45mpg (which seems quite easily achievable), along with CO2 emissions of 137g/km. On paper at least, the manual is slightly better on fuel.
Seat has always succeeded in bringing a bit of dynamic sparkle to the driving experience of more ‘ordinary’ cars and the Arona is no exception. In fact, it’s surprisingly good fun to hustle along, with its sharp steering making it easier to place through quicker drivers than the vast majority of rivals. There’s very little roll through the corners, either, while it generally drives similarly to the Ibiza supermini – quite the compliment. It is partly because you don’t get the same lofty driving position as you do with other crossovers, though.
The slight downside is that the ride sits at the firmer end of the spectrum, especially when riding on the 18-inch alloy wheels. While comfortable at higher speeds, around town it can seem a bit unsettled, while the gearbox can prove to be a bit hesitant at times.
The majority of the changes you’ll see on the Arona affect the front end. As we’ve mentioned the fog lights have moved from the usual place they reside in the front bumper corners to adjacent to the grille. We can’t help but feel they looked a bit better where they were before, though. New silver trim also helps this Seat offer more ‘rugged’ presence, while a new range of alloy wheels and colours give greater visual impact.
But the Arona continues to be a really stylish crossover, with its bold LED headlights (full-LED from FR upwards), sharp crease lines and generally neat proportions continuing to appeal. The option for the top half of the car to be painted in a different colour adds to the style as well.
But most of the day-to-day changes you’ll spot with the Arona are when you jump inside. A new dashboard design gets softer materials, while coloured trim that runs end-to-end of the car helps to uplift quality.
A larger 8.25-inch touchscreen is now standard fit, while our test car gets the top 9.2-inch screen. Offering much-improved graphics, it’s slick to use, while seamless wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto avoid the need to have messy wires on show.
But in terms of space, the Arona doesn’t really offer any major advantage over the Ibiza. Though the 400-litre boot offers 50 litres more than its sibling there’s really not a lot more space for passengers in the back compared to the Ibiza.
Standard kit remains one of the Arona’s strong points, with even entry-level SE cars getting eco-LED headlights, cruise control and the aforementioned 8.25-inch touchscreen. SE Technology would possibly be the pick of the range, as this adds the larger 9.2-inch screen, along with a useful wireless smartphone charger and rear parking sensors.
Our Xperience Lux test car sits at the top of the range and comes laden with equipment – including park assist, digital dials and leather and microsuede upholstery, which was a particular highlight.
It’s a testament to just how good the Arona was beforehand that such light tweaks are enough to keep it sitting alongside the class best. It still looks the part and is one of the best crossovers to drive on the market as well, while the interior tweaks help to lift the cabin ambience.
While there are roomier options available in this class, if that’s not a top priority, the Arona is a model that’s certainly deserving of your attention.
DARREN CASSEY gets to grips with Porsche’s latest high-performance 4×4.
The Cayenne was a bit of a game changer when it was introduced to the Porsche line-up in the early 2000s. At the time, Porsche was slowly digging itself out of a sales hole, but while diversifying its line-up away from just sports cars might have upset purists, it played a huge part in turning the firm’s fortunes around.
Now there’s a baker’s dozen of Cayenne variants on sale, with the latest being this: the Cayenne Turbo GT. Just because it’s an SUV doesn’t mean Porsche won’t bless it with monstrous performance, and the GT takes this to the model’s most extreme yet.
It’s based on the Cayenne Turbo but gets a bit more power, styling tweaks and mechanical upgrades that make it better in corners. It’s 17mm lower to improve the centre of gravity, the air suspension is more rigid, the active roll stabilisation has been tweaked with performance in mind, and the front axle upgrades improve turn-in.
It also has wider tyres to improve grip, with the Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres developed specifically for the car. This is a big, heavy car to be driving at pace, so it gets ceramic brakes as well.There’s also a faster-shifting gearbox and a titanium sports exhaust that’s lighter and more heat resistant. The list goes on…
The engine is a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, and it has been comprehensively worked on by Porsche’s excellent GT department. It’s technically the same unit found in the ‘regular’ Turbo, but has new and reworked connecting rods, crankshaft, pistons and more, all modified to cope with more power.
The result is a quite incredible 631bhp, a figure that would have seemed astonishing in the most lustworthy supercars not too long ago. Now it’s casually dropped into an SUV along with 850Nm of torque. The all-wheel-drive system aids grip off the line, contributing to the 3.1-second 0-60mph time, while the top speed is 186mph.
Unsurprisingly, fuel economy is fairly low on the agenda. You’re looking at 20mpg and CO2 emissions of 319g/km.
While the power output might seem remarkable for an SUV, the really incredible thing is the way the Cayenne Turbo GT drives. The engine dominates the experience, aggressively dumping torque to all four wheels and catapulting you forward with that glorious V8 note filling the cabin.
Then you pitch it into a corner at speed and realise it turns in with the immediacy of a lightweight sports car. The changes that have been made to improve handling have worked wonders – if it wasn’t for the high driving position you could easily forget you’re in a heavy 4×4.
Often these performance SUVs struggle to hide their weight, making up for cornering restraint with brawny straight-line performance. The Turbo GT could obliterate more exotic machinery in a straight line, but its cornering abilities make it stand out from its rivals as a genuine practical performance alternative to a super saloon.
The Cayenne has never been the most elegant of SUVs, with the front end in particular looking high and bloated. That’s still true here, though there are a few touches, such as larger air intakes and a unique front lip, that give it a more aggressive appearance.
However, once you get past the front end things improve drastically. This being based on the coupe body shape means the roof slopes towards the rear, giving it a sleek appearance, while the prominent roof spoiler hints at the performance on tap.
Other upgrades that accentuate the Turbo GT’s performance credentials include a carbon roof, 22-inch alloy wheels, carbon rear diffuser, and prominent exhaust tips.
Even with the sloping rear roofline, the Cayenne feels big inside. But despite its family car beginnings, there are plenty of sporty upgrades that make it clear this is a serious driver’s car, such as cosseting sports seats, Alcantara upholstery used throughout, and splashes of carbon-fibre.
Aside from this, the look and feel is top notch, with the widescreen infotainment display dominating the dashboard. Here, it sports the firm’s latest communication system, which adds Android Auto functionality and further Apple CarPlay functions.
It’s easy to be dismissive of performance SUVs. They go against the very principles of performance car manufacturing, often compensating for poor driving dynamics with powerful, shouty engines.
But as they increase in popularity, manufacturers are spending more time perfecting ways to defy physics, and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT might just be the class leader in this department.
It has ludicrous shove from its glorious V8 engine, but it’s the way it handles that surprises and delights. It turns out sports car dynamics and SUV practicality don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
MG has revealed a wild new concept car designed for inner-city driving for the digital-first generation.
Called MG Maze, the compact two-seater is said to ‘explore a vision of future mobility’.
It has been designed by SAIC Design Advanced London, the UK-based design studio of MG’s Chinese owners. The Maze has the tagline ‘Get Out & Play’ and brings together the concepts of real world mobility and gaming.
The idea behind the Maze is a response to the global pandemic, which has forced many of us to stay at home for prolonged periods, rarely venturing further afield than our home regions.
To encourage people back out into their environments, it essentially gamifies urban travel, by creating achievements that can be unlocked by visiting ‘digital street art’ located at landmarks such as local structures and buildings.
The Maze is a fantasy concept rather than an actual window into the future of MG’s model line-up, so details about its powertrain and mechanical make-up are thin on the ground.
However, it is said to be capable of ‘the utmost agility and functionality in busy urban environments’ while also featuring the latest technology.
The exterior body is a transparent shell, said to emulate the design of high-end gaming PCs that show off the intricate circuitry inside. In this instance, the shell exposes the cabin and mechanical aspects such as the suspension.
It’s inside where the fantastical features really take off, though, with floating seats and infotainment displays, while the car is controlled by the user’s smartphone rather than a wheel.
Carl Gotham, Advanced Design Director at SAIC London, said: “With Maze we wanted to consider what the future of a car community might look like, building from MG’s fan base and following. The move to digital is unstoppable, so we wanted to create a concept that connected this digital realm to the physical one that gives us the real joy in driving.
“Exploring the idea of ‘mobile gaming’, we used MAZE as a platform for people to get out and rediscover their environment in a new and relevant way, opening up new experiences with their city.”
Genesis is really kicking into gear. It may have only made its European debut back in May, but it is already forming quite the fleet of offerings for UK buyers. Latest to this line-up is this – the GV70. Sitting underneath the larger GV80 in the firm’s range of SUVs, it enters into a furiously competitive segment which means that, from the off, this is a car fighting an uphill battle.
But Genesis hasn’t sent it into combat unequipped. This is a car packed with safety features, the latest technology and a pair of refined engines. The question is – can it tempt buyers away from more established brands? We’ve been finding out.
As we’ve already highlighted, this is one hectic market for the GV70 to enter into. You only need to mention a few names – Audi’s Q5 or the BMW X3, for example – in order to see how formidable the competition is, but given the level of features included in the GV70’s arsenal we’d say it’s come well equipped to fend these off.
It’s got a huge 14.5-inch central infotainment screen, smart cruise control and a whole variety of safety assistance systems all included in its starting price which, at £50 under £39,500, significantly undercuts what you’d pay for an equivalent BMW. And you get more kit in the Genesis, that’s for sure.
There’s the option of a diesel and a petrol engine with the GV70 – there’s no hybrid or plug-in hybrid option here – and it’s the former we’re looking at today. It’s a turbocharged 2.2-litre bringing 207bhp to the table alongside a perfectly palatable 440Nm of torque. Regardless of which engine you opt for you’re getting all-wheel-drive in the GV70, with power sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Performance is largely what you’d expect from this type of unit, with 0-60mph dispatched in 7.7 seconds and 133mph flat-out.
Genesis has, from the off, put an emphasis on comfort in its cars. That’s pretty apparent in the GV70, too, given its ability to shrug off larger potholes and road imperfections. At lower speeds, it can feel the tiniest bit unsettled, but gather momentum and it settles down impressively well. It’s good on the motorway, too. The addition of all-wheel-drive means there’s an added safety net of traction, though on our dry, tarmac route this wasn’t really put to the test.
The diesel engine feels like a good fit for this car as well. It’s punchy and quiet, providing more than enough acceleration when required. The suite of safety features isn’t too intrusive either – save for the lane departure – while the blind-spot detection housed within the screen ahead of you is genuinely useful and provides an extra layer of security when moving.
There are a couple of design traits integrated into all Genesis models to tie them together. Think of it like BMW’s kidney grilles, or the roundel-style rear lights on a Jaguar. Up front, these include the split-design headlights which aim to recreate the ‘wings’ of the Genesis badge, while the ‘G-Matrix’ grille is another continuous feature throughout the line-up.
Combined on the GV70, we’d say they’re pretty successful in creating a car that looks interesting. Of course, looks are down to the individual, but we’d say that the GV70 stands out against the current crop of SUVs well, bringing a new take on what is now a rather well-trodden layout.
You’ll find all manner of high-end materials inside the cabin of the GV70, from soft, waxy leather to pin-sharp displays. Sure, there are a few buttons taken from parent company Hyundai – but this is a method prevalent across the entire industry, so you can’t really blame the GV70’s creators for this. They’re integrated well into the overall design, too.
Rear-seat space is a touch tight – particularly if you’re sitting behind a taller driver – but boot space is decent if a little behind rival offerings, coming in at 542 litres with the rear seats in place, or 1,678 litres with them down. For context, you’ll get 550 and 1,600 litres respectively from a BMW X3.
Standard equipment is where the GV70 really gets into its stride. Our ‘Luxury Line’ car’s 14.5-inch central touchscreen is large and easy to use, though its width does mean you’ll need to stretch across to reach icons further away – or use the rotary controller.
All GV70 models boast 19-inch alloy wheels from the off, electrically adjustable driver and passenger seats, a rear-view camera and an electronically operated boot, to name but a few highlights. Each car comes with a five-year warranty and five years of servicing and roadside assistance, too.
Additional ‘packs’ can be added to bring extra equipment, with the blind-spot view monitor – which relays a live image of your blind spot to the display behind the wheel – a great aspect of the Innovation Pack.
If Genesis wanted an easy win, it was never going to find it in the SUV segment. However, the GV70 is well-rounded enough to keep its head above what is very choppy water, bringing a fresh new take on an established layout. Go easy with the optional packs and there’s no reason why it can’t bring good value for money, too.
The relatively simple engine choices keep things easy, while the servicing and warranty safety nets add extra peace of mind. Considering a BMW or Audi? It might just be worth taking a look at the GV70 instead.
Triumph has created a new limited-edition motorcycle inspired by one used in the upcoming James Bond film No Time To Die.
Called the Tiger 900 Bond Edition, it takes direct influence from the Tiger 900 used in a series of action sequences in the new 007 movie.
Lee Morrison, No Time To Die stunt coordinator, said: “The Tiger 900 is the most confidence-inspiring bike, it allows you to really push the ride as far as you want, you can take as many liberties as you want; stand up sideways drifting in third gear, slow wheelie it, slide it Supermoto-style. I honestly think it’s one of the best bikes I’ve ever ridden, it’s fantastic.”
Limited to just 250 examples – with each individually numbered and accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity – the Tiger 900 Bond Edition receives a matt black paint scheme and 007 graphics, as well as a billet-machined handlebar clamp.
A blacked-out styling package brings a black finish to the frame, headlight finishers, side panels and sump guard – among other components – giving the bike an understated look.
Each bike gets a unique 007-theme startup animation on the screen, while the heated rider and pillion seat receives special Bond Edition branding.
To enhance the Tiger’s go-anywhere abilities, the Bond Edition also wears Michelin Anakee Wild off-road tyres, though factory fitted Bridgestone Battlax tyres are also included. An Arrow Silencer with a lightweight brushed stainless steel body and carbon end cap is also included.
Caterham has a new entry point to the Seven range – the 170S. JACK EVANS finds out what it’s like.
The rich and varied world of the Caterham Seven. Though it’s essentially based around one car, Caterham’s line-up has kept expanding to include headline-grabbers like the supercar-beating 620R or the middle-ground 420. The 310 has won acclaim for being one of the more approachable cars in the Seven range, too.
There’s now a new entry point to the range – the Seven 170. Acting as a replacement for the 160, it aims to provide a fun, low-cost door into the Caterham world – but what is it like? We’ve been finding out.
Distinctive Caterham looks aside, the 170 has quite a number of differences compared with the rest of the range. It’s got a turbocharged Suzuki-sourced engine, for one – more on that later – which really does transform the whole experience.
Much like the rest of the Seven range, however, you can now specify it in either road-going ‘S’ or track-focused ‘R’ layouts – the former of which we’ve got here – while you’ve got the option of either having it built for you at Caterham’s factory for a fee or, if you’re handy with the spanners, you can build it from the comfort of your own home.
Sitting underneath the 170’s bonnet is an engine of distinctively compact proportions. At just 660cc, it’s far smaller than any other engine in the Seven range while at 84bhp, its output is quite small too. Sourced from Suzuki, it gives the 170S a power-to-weight ratio of 180bhp per tonne, or 190bhp per tonne in the lightweight ‘R’ version.
Zero to 60mph is dealt with in 6.9 seconds and flat out the 170 will manage 105mph. Though these figures may not set the performance world alight, as with all Sevens the on-road experience is heightened due to your proximity to the road and the world around you. At just 465.5kg, the 170 is a true featherweight too, and actually takes the title as the lightest Seven in the range.
The 170 starts up in an uncharacteristically quiet fashion. With other Caterhams, pressing the red button on the dash ignites a snarling, metallic blare from the exhaust but with the 170 it’s a far more subdued affair. The differences don’t end there, either, as the little Suzuki engine chugging away ahead of you isn’t as keen to zip to the red line as other engines in the range, which leaves you to drive in a more relaxed, laid-back manner.
The ride is good, mind you, and this only elevates this unhurried, carefree style of motoring. It’s completely different to anything else in the Caterham range but that’s no bad thing, it’s just quite the change. The turbos flutter and whistle ahead of you while you make progress, but the engine they’re attached to doesn’t really appreciate being hustled – it’s at its best when being whisked along at easy speeds.
Well, it looks like a Seven, doesn’t it? Out on the road, there are few people capable of ignoring the little 170 which, despite its compact size, never fails to attract attention or a smile from a bystander. It stands out from the rest of the Seven range thanks to its 14-inch polished alloy wheels with Avon ZT7 tyres, while our car also came with LED headlights and rear lights which are a real plus for the Seven as it makes you far more visible to traffic at night.
It’s worth noting that the 170 actually complies with Japan’s Kei car regulations, meaning that not only is it the lightest Seven, but the smallest. In fact, it’s 105mm narrower than anything else in the range.
Though sparse, what is inside the cabin of the 170S is finished beautifully. The diamond-stitched seats on our test car were an excellent addition, which completely transformed the look and feel of the cabin. The Momo steering wheel, as it is in all Caterhams, feels excellent, and the narrower-than-usual layout means that even average-sized people may struggle to get their feet on the pedals comfortably.
The 170S brings regular seatbelts, too, which are the ones to go for if you’re planning on using your 170 regularly – the three-point harnesses found on ‘R’ versions can prove annoying if you’re jumping in and out frequently.
As you might imagine, there aren’t a huge amount of extras aboard a Caterham. You’ll find no ultra-wide infotainment system nor a crystal-clear digital dashboard. Instead, revel in the standard-fit heater which cascades warm air onto your legs, or the chunky dashboard buttons which control aspects such as lights.
The gauges are completely analogue but are clear and easy to read, though in typical Caterham fashion you need to lean a little to your left in order to read the fuel levels properly. Nothing is out of place or badly made, mind you, and in the world of overcomplicated dashboards it feels wonderfully stripped back.
The Caterham 170S is an interesting prospect. For those who haven’t yet experienced a Seven, it’ll prove as a great entry point to the firm, giving a flavour of what’s on offer without any real edge. Those who have already been in quicker and more potent Caterhams may find themselves wanting more, however.
The Suzuki engine completely changes the Seven experience. Rather than pushing for each and every corner like your life depends on it, the 170S encourages you to take a more relaxed line, enjoying the experience and making the most of the great outdoors. If a slower – but still exciting – turn of pace is what you’re after, then the 170S could be the Seven for you.