A glorious sunny day with near-empty roads, a car with quick acceleration and handling. The perfect combination for me to have some fun driving the Caterham 270 R around West Sussex and Surrey for what turned out to be several hours of adrenaline-fuelled pleasure.
The Caterham 270R is a basic car, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully I mean it lacks the comforts and safety systems modern vehicles have. The only driving aids you have are yourself, the brakes and a four-point harness.
The 500kg weight of the 270R with the 1.6-litre Ford engine equates to 135 bhp to the rear wheels, which are easily spun. All part of the fun driving a Caterham.
The R stands for Racing, it has uprated brakes and suspension, a lightweight flywheel, harnesses and stripped back seats. The body is narrower than the S version which is the designated road version. It comes with a five-speed gearbox, I feel it needs a sixth gear, and you can have the six-speed box fitted as an option for around £2000.
In this age of AI and push towards autonomy, driving the Caterham is so refreshing. Many modern drivers wouldn’t be able to cope with its lack of driving assistance. The clutch is heavy, and you need to balance use with deftness on the accelerator. The gears are short sequence through a racing box, but for me so simple and smooth, it is a delight.
On the roads around Horsham and into Surrey I had a superb time pushing the Caterham and getting the most from its incredible handling. It is as rapid as a Cheetah, changing direction with similar ease. The A24 is a twisting road offering useful sections which are fast and challenge the cars’ grip, equally valid on the A272 across to Petworth a historic town in West Sussex.
It is certainly worth a stop with excellent shops and plenty of historic buildings, including Petworth house. Moving on from Petworth I headed towards Milford where you don’t get chance to use the full potential 122 mph top speed of the Caterham; then again, no one gets to push the needle to the max unless you’re on a race track.
The Caterham 270R packs a decent 0-60 mph time of 5 seconds, which you can get a sense of on the roads I drove. For those wanting a purer race experience, there’s plenty of options available including a roll cage, six-speed box and much more.
The circuit I did has the usual British roads with undulation and inferior surface in places.
The Caterham 270R dampens the ride but riding so low with harder suspension doesn’t lead to the most comfortable of rides, this, however, is outweighed by the sheer pleasure from driving the Caterham.
It got me hooked and the smiles you get from driving the Caterham 270 R last long after you have parked it.
For more information on the Caterham 270R, visit www.caterhamcars.com.
Read more motoring-related articles in our dedicated section here.