Darcy Foster • Caterham is back Down Under after a two-year production hiatus, with three models on offer locally for the 2020 model year.
The announcement comes after the small British company pulled out of the Australian market for 2018 and 2019, largely due to the introduction of the World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP) emissions rules in Europe.
Introduced in September 2018, WLTP is the new standardised test dictating the emissions of new vehicles in Europe, replacing the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Though WLTP only relates directly to the European market, its effects have been felt throughout foreign markets – including Australia, where many European carmakers have been forced to reshuffle their ranges because of supply-related issues.
The regulations have forced many brands to alter their ranges or axe certain vehicles from their Australian lineup, with Volkswagen dropping the Golf GTI manual and Skoda putting the Octavia RS 135 TDI out to pasture. Audi has also suffered, although its supply lines appear to be opening up coming into 2020.
Niche manufacturers like Caterham, which had successfully homologated its vehicles against comparatively less strenuous NEDC test, were forced to reconsider which cars were being built and where they were being sold, as they worked to make their ranges compliant with emissions regulations under the tougher new WLTP test.
The result, in Australia, was two years away from our market which – even by Caterham's standards – offers minimal volume.
Although Caterham offers a broader range overseas, Australian Design Rules (ADRs) mean the range is limited to three models locally.
The entry-point into Caterham’s new local range of no-frills motoring starts at $73,700 before on-road costs with the Seven 275.
The Seven 275 features a 1.6-litre, Ford-derived four-cylinder engine which produces 100kW, and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
For the spicier Caterham recipe of more power and less weight, the price hikes to $114,000 before on-road costs with the Seven 485 S.
Powered by a bigger 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 177kW on tap, the Seven 485 S is able to sprint to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, a full second and a half faster than the Seven 275.
The range-topping Seven CSR is priced at $115,000 before on-road costs and is a more track-focused version of the 485 S with go-faster bits such as inboard front suspension, an adjustable front anti-roll bar, and bespoke 15-inch wheels.
2020 Caterham pricing
- Seven 275 - $73,700
- Seven 485 S - $114,000
- Seven CSR - $115,000
All prices exclude on-road costs.