Caterham Supersport

'If Mr Toad were in the market for a new car, this would be it'

Price: from £19,995

Engine capacity: 1.6-litre four-cylinder Ford Sigma

Power output (bhp@rpm): 140@6,900

Top speed (mph): 120

0-62mph (seconds): 4.9

It's got a four-point racing harness, a bright-red starter button and racing seats. It doesn't have air conditioning, power steering or even a radio, and you have to pay extra for a windscreen. This bonkers-looking machine is the Caterham Supersport and it's about as close as you can get on today's roads to Mr Toad's wind-in-your-hair sports car of The Wind in the Willows. And what better place to test the latest kit car from south London than at the Goodwood Festival of Speed? So last weekend I dug out my driving gloves and headed to Sussex.

The long, bendy lanes on the way south to Lord March's racetrack are the perfect place to test it. I set out early to dodge the traffic and the Supersport is in its element – it's designed with empty Sunday morning roads in mind. It's a lighter, more powerful version of the classic Caterham Seven (unless you pay a £2k premium, you have to build it yourself), which means it gets the same power-to-weight ratio as the Jaguar XK-R and it will get you to 60mpg in a very sprightly 4.9 seconds.

Hitting a long bend at 40mph would be dull in a Ferrari, but in the Caterham it's an electrifying experience and every mechanical element of the car is at work. This is real driving. And if you want to have some real fun, simply squeeze the throttle as much as you dare, flick the wheel and the back will come out with ease. It's not something you could do safely in a 700bhp supercar.

It's not for the faint-hearted, though – the wind batters you, driving rain can lash you painfully, there's a near-constant reek of petrol, and flying stones will really sting on unprotected flesh – but as the engine warbles, then rises in tone, you know you are in a proper driver's car. You need to work the wheel and pedal hard to get what you want but in return it's a joy to throw around.

Later in the weekend I have to pop around the M25 for a family do. The motorway isn't its natural home and there are several hairy moments with lorries. Putting the roof on means you'll be deafened and then slowly cooked by the exhaust. And getting out after a long journey is likely to break your back worse than the effort of climbing in.

Men (and women) of a certain age will love this car, though – I spent the afternoon blitzing up and down country lanes as each member of my extended family clamoured for a go. Its shape reminded them of their old Austin-Healey frog-eyed Sprites, while its retro switches and toggles took them back to a happier, Bakerlite-tinted age. Best of all, you don't even need to build one yourself. Caterham now hires out the slightly less powerful Roadsport version for the day (£175). And if you go on to buy one, it will take that off the retail price. For a slice of true motoring pleasure, I can't say fairer than that.

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

    PMLD Teacher

    Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

    Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

    General Cover Teacher

    £120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?