When Caterham Cars bought the rights to build Colin Chapman’s iconic Seven, the small British company also embraced his ethos. That’s how, in the same week that we test drove the 2.5-tonne Lotus Eletre, Caterham has unveiled a new featherweight electric coupe.
The Caterham Project V, which could go into production as soon as 2025, keeps things light and simple. The swoopy bodywork, sculpted by new design director Anthony Janarelly, is all carbon fibre and sits on an aluminium chassis to save weight. There’s definitely something of the Alpine A110 and Porsche Cayman in the styling, which tells you everything you need to know about Caterham’s ambitions.
Crucially there is simplicity, too, with a compact 55 kWh battery and a single 272-hp electric motor driving the rear wheels. That gives the Project V the potential to reach 62mph from rest in 4.5 seconds (the same as the Eletre S) and a top speed of 143mph. Caterham is targeting a range of 249 miles, and says that, thanks to clever thermal management of the battery, a 20-80 per cent charge can be achieved in 15 minutes on a 150 kW DC fast charger.
The Project V concept is a 2+1 with a central rear seat, although a 2+2 would be optional, says the company. The cabin is pretty minimalist with a centre screen offering smartphone mirroring for entertainment and navigation, plus a digital instrument cluster for the driver. Thankfully there are conventional controls for ventilation and other features.
It sits on double wishbone suspension with fully adjustable geometry, plus there’s electric power steering and disc brakes all round to ensure it drives with the agility Caterham customers would expect. Normal, Sport and Sprint modes adjust power delivery and steering calibration at the driver’s request.
The car’s construction and relatively small battery combine to keep its weight to less than 1,200kg, and Caterham also reckons the price needn’t be too heavyweight either, suggesting £80,000 as a starting point.
“Project V is not just a concept or design study, we’ve conducted engineering and production feasibility throughout the development process,” says Bob Laishley, CEO of Caterham Cars Ltd. “An electric Caterham of any shape and size has to stay true to what sets us apart from everyone else: being lightweight, simple and offering an unparalleled driving experience; that’s our DNA.”