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Steane Klose | Oct 30, 2008

Caterham is renowned for lightweight high-revving open-cockpit affairs, so when news arrives that they've turned up the wick on two of the more popular models, you'd better pay close attention. Revisions have been made to the best-selling Superlight R300 and the more commuter-friendly Roadsport 175 that will widen your smile for all the right reasons.

The old Rover mill has been replaced by the R500's Ford Duratec 2.0L which provides the R300 with 130kWs and 189Nms. While the Duratec is a far better bet than the Rover mill, these figures are hardly breathtaking, but when you remember the Superlight R300 weighs a minuscule 515kgs, it all starts to make sense. How does a power to weight ratio of 252kWs/tonne sound? Yeah, we're smiling too.

A close-ratio six-speed gearbox will channel the anger through a set of super-light aluminum wheels shod in Avon CR500 tyres. Get the launch right and the R300 will pull a 4.5-second sprint to 100km/h and will give that SS driver in the next lane something to think about.

The complete kit can be yours for a touch under AUD$61,000, though if turning a spanner sounds like a chore, then the chaps at Caterham can send it your way pre-built for around AUD$68,000. Being a track-focused model, the R300 can also be optioned with a limited-slip-diff, a Stack data-logging system, and a dry-sump oil setup.

If track-day shenanigans are not your style, then the Roadsport 175 may be more up your alley. For AUD$53,500 (AUD$61,000 pre-built), you get the same engine and power output with a longer-ratio five-speed gearbox. You'll also receive wet weather gear and a heater in lieu of carbon-fibre, track-based suspension and aggressive brakes.

Performance wise, the R300 and Roadsport 175 offer a whole lot of car for the money and would be a delight to drive on the track or over your favourite stretch of twisty stuff. If only the options list included a supercharger and a better life insurance policy.

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