New mod­els a change of gear for Cater­ham

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

THE tiny Bri­tish sports car com­pany that will help bring Alpine back from the dead is fi­nally ac­cel­er­at­ing into the 21st cen­tury.

Cater­ham cars is now plan­ning a model range that will in­clude SUVs and city run­abouts along­side its tra­di­tional 1950s-in­spired sports cars.

It is also well ad­vanced with its work on a joint ven­ture with Re­nault that will re­vive the Alpine name in 2016 on a sports car to be shared be­tween the com­pa­nies, in a deal sim­i­lar to the one that spawned the Subaru BRZ and Toy­ota 86.

Cater­ham has just shown its new­est model, the AeroSeven Con­cept, but it’s the model ex­pan­sion that’s the real news.

‘‘In the very near fu­ture, the Cater­ham name will sit proudly on crossovers, city cars as well as a range of sports cars for ev­ery­one,’’ says Tony Fer­nan­des, the cochair­man of the Cater­ham Group.

‘‘Cater­ham will show it­self to be a pro­gres­sive, open and en­trepreneuri­ally pow­ered car brand that will de­liver and sur­prise in equal mea­sure. It has been a Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tion for the last 40 years, and au­to­mo­tive se­cret in many ways.

‘‘We may be a small voice now, but we’re on our way to engineering a de­cent set of lungs.’’

Cater­ham is best known as the mod­ern maker of the old-school Seven that was orig­i­nally de­signed and de­vel­oped by Colin Chap­man, the bril­liant engi­neer who was the driv­ing force for the Lo­tus team in For­mula One and road cars.

The AeroSeven Con­cept picks up the orig­i­nal think­ing from Chap­man’s time and drives it for­ward in a car that still has a front-mounted en­gine and rear-wheel drive, even if it’s the first Cater­ham with techno tweaks in­clud­ing trac­tion and launch con­trol.

Fer­nan­des says the AeroSeven pulls tech­nol­ogy from through­out the com­pany, in­clud­ing the carbon fi­bre ex­per­tise of the Cater­ham F1 out­fit.

There is no pro­duc­tion plan for the AeroSeven yet, and the Aus­tralian boss of Cater­ham says he has only just heard about the SUV and city car projects.

‘‘It’s ex­cit­ing news. It’s just nice to see there are de­vel­op­ment funds,’’ Chris van Wyk tells Carsguide.

‘‘It used to be a case of sur­vival, but all of a sud­den there are doors open­ing to us ev­ery­where.’’

Fer­nan­des is the driv­ing force be­hind the AirAsia air­line, now claimed to be the most prof­itable in the world, but is also de­vot­ing plenty of ef­fort to Cater­ham.

‘‘The joint ven­ture with Re­nault to pro­duce an all-new sports car for both the Alpine and Cater­ham brands demon­strates our clear in­tent on do­ing this right, do­ing it sen­si­bly, but above all, do­ing it the Cater­ham way,’’ Fer­nan­des says.

‘‘And, be­cause we’re a flat com­pany, we’re a quicker com­pany. When we say we’re go­ing to do things in­ter­nally, we do them. We­don’t pro­cras­ti­nate.’’

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