Autocar writers' cars of 2021: Caterham 170 R

Autocar writers’ cars of 2021: Caterham 170 R

Some prefer the Ford engines, but I absolutely love the cartoon turbo noises that the Suzuki triple makes. Everything you do with the accelerator is accompanied by a different flavour of whoosh, chirrup or chuff. The carburettor-like snort you got from the throttle bodies in the now-discontinued Super Seven certainly has its appeal, but the 170 demonstrates how turbos can be a feature rather than something sucking all the character out of an engine.

My colleagues put it ninth (out of 11) at Britain’s Best Driver’s Car (aka Handling Day), and given that stage was set on quiet Welsh roads and an empty track, I can see why. However, for a Sunday blast on local roads, few things are as entertaining as the little Caterham. I drove it 300 miles back from North Wales, and although that wasn’t a brilliant experience, it would have been substantially improved if it had been the 170 S, with normal seats and belts, rather than the harnesses and buckets in the 170 R. Pertinently, it hardly dented my appreciation for the 170 and a longer journey to get to a great driving destination wouldn’t bother me.

In the other feature, in the magazine, about our cars of the year, I chose the Alpine A110 Légende GT. I stand by that: it’s more complete and I would happily run it as my only car, but as far as memorable experiences go, the Caterham is hard to beat.