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The new Caterham Seven CSR 200

First view of the 200bhp CSR 200 - first thing that hits you is that heat shield!

CSR 200 name is a departsure from the previousnaming trend of quoting bhp/tonne to the actual bhp developed - less confusing for some I guess.

Many features on this car have been specifically developed to sell abroad (47% of Caterhams are for the export market) and this heat shield is a requirement in some countries - many will no doubt remove it as soon as they can!

New front wings now sit much closer to the wheels and tyre, and have a shape influenced by the wind tunnel, helping to reduce drag and front lift. A neat, flush side repeater light is incorporated.

And of course the new front suspension. Push-rod operated inboard units developed with assistance from Multimatic Inc. aim to improve aerodynamic performance, and visually cleans up the front considerably.

Ground clearance on these show cars was obviously not representative! Clearance at the rear of this car was 20mm below the rear exiting exhaust box!

Nose cone houses a larger radiator, and an underside intake and an outlet duct on the top are said to improve airflow management.

Push-rod front suspension.

Neat - but not quite totally in-board?

And then the big shock! A totally new cockpit design! I knew that there was going to be some detail changes, but the extent of the redesign was a shock to most I think!

The blue car shown here is the more road orientated car, with the OPTIONAL dash, which bolts on to the chassis. The silver car was shown with a more 'normal' (to us) carbon dash and stack system. The blue car is shown with items (such as the massive exhaust cover) which will be required for sale abroad.

The red dash was indeed used to create the biggest 'shock/wow' factor - a black dash would blend in much more obviously.

One of the keys to the dash is that you can now stand in the passenger footwell on the floor - not the on the seat - as the dash is further forward - aiding entry and exit.

In my opinion the colours chosen for the show car do not show the interior at its best, but were chosen to highlight the design - fair enough on a show car.

Thing is, we are all (mainly) either current 'users' or clued up fans. Note when I said 'normal' (to us) above when talking about a carbon dash with stack system. Fact is, to most future potential customers, coming from the wider range of target market Caterham are now aiming for, a 'normal' dash has indicator stalks, air vents and no toggle switches. If you are coming from another performance car, such as a Porsche or Ferrari perhaps, then previously you climbed into this very expensive but quick car, only to see Halfords switches and Maplin parts - at least now it looks higher value.

No doubt that this is the area that will cause the most controversy amongst owners and new buyers alike. However - the new dash is an option, and the 'old' design will still be offered.

A quick 'photoshopped' picture showing what the interior might look like with a 'calmer' colour scheme.

New column stalks means that the miriad of toggle switches have disappeared from the dashboard. In fact only 3 buttons remain, situated just in front of the handbrake.

Another colour change by me - this time with gunmetal coloured chassis tubes and black leather - no idea if this will be an option in reality by the way!

Switches by the handbrake are for hazard lights, heated screen and fog lights. A red start button sits to hand, just behind the gear lever.

Purpose designed steering wheel must satisfy modern crash tests, so a central pad is required.

Testing the all important driving position.

A storage bin is situated just in front of the gearlever - a useful addition in my opinion.

Of course it may not be to everyones taste - but that is why it is an option. A vitally important option for Caterham as it helps to satisfy regulations and standards for export and sale to overseas markets.

A useful use of otherwise wasted space - pop your iPod, Road Angel or phone here! Not recommended for cups of Latte though!

Attention to detail is very good on the new CSR - look at the seatbelt labels in the above picture - no longer embroidered patches, which soon become dirty and frayed, but now twinshot moulded rubber badges.

My 'Proof of attendance' picture!

Plenty to discuss! You can also see the front lip under the nose cone in this shot. This also helps to reduce front lift. Perhaps a little 'stuck on' at the moment, although of course a number plate will cover it in many cases.