Motor Mouth

The Caterham Seven Roadsports 125 is certainly a head-turner, but would you roar up at work in one? Sathnam Sanghera did.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

There comes a point during every test drive when you have to ask yourself: am I going to drive this thing to work? Given the state of the London Underground and the weather, the answer is usually yes. The only two models I deliberately left in the garage were a yellow Porsche 911 Turbo (some things colleagues never let you forget) and a midnight-blue Rolls-Royce Phantom (never arrive in a car the chairman can't afford).

But the arguments were finely balanced with the Caterham Seven Roadsport 125. The morning was dark, cold and autumnal and BBC London was reporting delays on the Northern line. But a weekend with the car had taught me that the lack of power steering, servo-assisted brakes and ABS, combined with slim tyres on 14-inch wheels, meant that, if it rained, I might career to my death underneath a bendy bus.

Then there was the roof. In the event of precipitation, I'd have to wrestle for half an hour with plastic and fasteners: some Ikea cabinets are easier to assemble. If it stayed dry, the wind-buffeting would leave me with a Simon Cowell bouffant for the rest of the day, while the three-point seatbelt would crease my suit so badly that I'd look like a hot cross bun.

Other problems: carrying anything more than a briefcase was going to be difficult, given the lack of space; my legs were going to burn while my torso froze, given the car's erratic 'heating' system, which was impossible to switch off entirely or switch on entirely; and given the car's 50-year-old bug-eye looks and explosively loud 1.6 litre, 125 bhp Ford sigma engine, it would be impossible to arrive with any subtlety. Getting dressed up as Mr Toad and pulling up outside reception tooting poop-poop! would be more dignified.

I still took it in, though. Why? Well, first, there are few things grimmer than standing underneath a stockbroker's armpit for 45 minutes on the Tube on a Monday morning. Second, there's almost nothing more fun to drive at legal speeds than the Caterham Seven. Lord knows there are more comfortable and more practical cars. And there are faster cars - faster Caterhams, even. But the entry-level 125 is just on the right side of sane. And I wanted to squeeze every last minute of driving pleasure out of it.

I'll take one...
Amazing on country lanes.
Head-turning.
Thunderous exhaust note.
Pretty good value.
Thanks but no thanks...
Difficult on motorways.
Difficult in rain.
Difficult in city traffic.
Fiddly roof.

SPECIFICATION
Caterham Seven Roadsport 125 £15,995 (components for self-build);
£18,495 (factory-built)

Engine 1,595 cc
Power 125 bhp at 6,100 rpm
Torque 120 lb ft at 5,350 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual
Fuel 38 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 no published data
0-62 mph 5.9 sec
Top speed 112 mph

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