This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed is heating up with some exciting debuts, and one of the most exciting comes from the same small outfit that’s been faithfully making its version of the iconic Lotus Seven since 1973. The Caterham Project V is a fully-fledged fixed-roof all-electric coupe that weighs an entire human less than a Subaru BRZ. Yep, it’s a Caterham alright. Oh, and this isn’t some sort of one-off concept — we might actually see a production version on sale in 2025.
Despite currently being a concept of sorts, the Caterham Project V isn’t just a rolling shell because that’s not what Caterham does. Slung deep within the carbon fiber and aluminum structure sits a small 55 kWh net capacity battery pack, but because the Project V weighs so little and has a small frontal area, it’s allegedly good for 249 miles of range. That works out to 4.52 miles per kWh, right up there with some of the most efficient EVs on sale today. Best of all, because the battery pack isn’t enormous, it doesn’t need the latest and greatest in DC fast charging technology to juice up quickly. A common 150 kWh charger should be fine.
Efficiency is great, but what about power? Will this thing keep up with a Porsche Cayman? Well, a 200-kilowatt motor on the rear axle produces 268 horsepower in common terms, which is good enough for a claimed sub-4.5 second zero-to-62 dash. That’s good enough to stick with a base 718 Cayman on the straights, but in Caterham tradition, the Project V should hold an advantage in the corners.
Adjustable double wishbones all around seem completely on-brand, as do sizable fixed calipers and established Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Because the car only weighs 2,623.5 pounds and has regenerative braking, the discs don’t need to be terribly large, so forgive them for looking small behind staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels.
On the outside, the Project V does look like a sports car built in England by a small company, and I mean that as a compliment. There’s a whiff of Noble M600 to the greenhouse, a dab of Ginetta G10 to the front end, and just the faintest memory of MG TF to the pronounced trailing edge of the trunk lid, all buried beneath gorgeously flowing fenders. The Project V lacks the Italianate mid-engined swoopiness of a Lotus Emira, but I reckon that’s a good thing. It’s still a reasonably pretty car, but it also has a distinct identity to it. That’s hard to bottle these days.
On the inside, Caterham has set this thing up as a three-seater in a 2+1 arrangement, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Sitting behind the driver in a tiny sports car sucks, so why not ditch one seat and stagger the remaining one for greater space? Should you wish for an extra seat, a 2+2 configuration is available, although the weight gained by the extra place isn’t specified.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time Caterham has tried something drastically different from the Seven. Back in 1994, Caterham announced the 21, a gorgeous two-seat roadster marking 21 years of the company. With a zero-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds and a more practical body than the Seven, it should’ve been a hit, but demand never lived up to even the modest 200-unit sales expectations. However, the world has changed a lot over the past few decades, so I have a feeling that the Project V will be different.
Caterham claims that when the Project V goes on sale “towards the end of 2025 or early 2026,” it should sticker for “less than £80,000.” That’s a lot of money, but it lands the Caterham Project V in an interesting range. In Britain, that sort of money gets you a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 with around £6,700 in options, or a Lotus Emira, and it undercuts the BMW M3. Of course, you likely won’t be able to buy a new combustion-powered Cayman by that point, which sets this new Caterham up for a new frontier. Of course, should you wish to go back, Caterham will also supply you with an iconic Seven. Past and future, one company, same time. Isn’t choice wonderful?
(Photo credits: Caterham Cars)
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