Saturday, September 21, 2013

Caterham Aeroseven Concept Debuts, Has Face Straight out of Mushnik’s Flower Shop

Caterham Aeroseven concept

Looking to capitalize on all the hub and bubbery that surrounds a Formula 1 event, Caterham Cars today unveiled the AeroSeven concept in Singapore, host city to this weekend’s F1 grand prix. The AeroSeven concept’s provocative styling, including a formidable maw ready to devour anything in its path, is all in the name of aerodynamics, but—despite the yellow radiator surround serving as a familiar brand signpost—the final product bears more than a passing resemblance to Audrey II, the carnivorous flower from Little Shop of Horrors.

Based on Caterham’s Seven CSR platform, the carbon fiber–bodied concept will indeed reach production in 2014, rolling out of the firm’s Dartford, U.K., facility next fall. The concept is powered by a Ford-sourced, 237-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder Duratec engine making 152 lb-ft of torque at 8500 rpm, which also powers the European-homologated Caterham Seven 485. Additional power plants are being evaluated for suitability in production. Packaged with the maker’s Caterham Engine Management System, the AeroSeven concept is the first Caterham ever to be fitted with traction control (a fully-adjustable program, at that) and a launch-control function. Combined with the six-speed manual transmission, the company’s estimates peg the rear-wheel-drive car as executing the 0-to-62-mph sprint in less than four seconds. Research into adding ABS is ongoing, but given that the Aeroseven already tosses many of the marque’s sacred simplicity cows out the window, we say go for it.

Caterham says the prime function of the adventurous bodywork—note that it has actual fenders—is to increase downforce while vastly improving the drag coefficient. The fundamental shape was created with input from Caterham F1 Team performance director, John Iley, but it may change some once Caterham starts building them for punters.

Fortunately, the AeroSeven’s prodigious front orifice will be of little concern once seated in the driver’s seat. In addition to an entirely new rollover structure to aid safety and improved aerodynamic performance, the AeroSeven gets an exclusive steering wheel with driver-focused functionality, and a high-res, center-mount digital display that displays engine speed, gear selection, engine vitals, and vehicle speed, among other things. In a nod to the Caterham’s track intentions, the wheel features controls for Road mode, Flash-to-Pass, and Pit Lane Speed Limiter functions.

In addition to prophesying its own production version, Caterham says that the AeroSeven concept also points to its styling direction for future models, including the all-new sports car being developed in conjunction with Renault. Indeed, Caterham has aspirations of becoming more than just a supplier of austere, performance-focused cars for hard-core adrenaline junkies and track rats.

Caterham Aeroseven concept

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