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Thread: CSR vs 420R

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default CSR vs 420R

    I am starting this thread at the request of a new member to this forum who wanted to know how different the CSR is compared to other Caterham chassis'. I figure there is more than me who can comment on this topic so have made it a thread. Hopefully Josh and Bruce chime in given their deep knowledge as dealers.

    There are three basic Caterham chassis for sale today:

    1) The S3 - the narrow body. De dion rear end
    2) The SV (or S5) - the wide body. 4 inches extra in the cockpit in length and width. De dion rear end.
    3) The CSR - essentially the same identical dimensions as the SV but has a different chassis design with more bracing and triangulation intended to make it stiffer. Also it is designed for inboard front suspension and independent rear suspension. There is also the option of traditional flat dash or "curvy dash". While my current car has the curvy dash, I prefer the flat dash for its traditional looks.

    The S3 or SV come in a variety of model designations broadly associated with hp/weight - 270 (135hp), 310 (150hp), 360 (180hp), 420 (210hp), 485 (250hp), 610 (310hp).

    The CSR usually comes as a CSR 200 or CSR 260 with the numbers linked to amount of hp, i.e. 200 or 260hp. However, there is nothing stopping a buyer from installing their own engine spec with hp of their choosing, e.g. a 210hp CSR.

    For driving impressions, the CSR feels like a bigger car with its more sophisticated suspension. Bumps do not throw it offline. Its quite soft in its feel - very comfortable if not better ride comfort compared with most daily driver types of cars. If you hit a bump while turning e.g. pothole on a road or kerb on a track, then the rear end stays planted on line.

    By contrast the regular S3/SV chassis with the de dion are not quite as planted over bumps and move around more - a more lively feel. Some people like this feel, some do not.

    A comparison I participated with a few people in the UK at Donington quite a few years ago was if you took an S3, SV and a CSR with identical hp (200), identical tires and wheels (15inch), then what was fastest around the track with identical drivers (and a few drivers participated). The fairly consistent result no matter the driver was the CSR was marginally fastest followed by the SV then marginally behind was the S3. The SV had it over the S3 by virtue of the wider track even though there was a very slight weight penalty. The CSR had it over the SV by virtue of its rear end suspension composure. I want to stress that these were marginal differences. A different driver might be able to achieve a different result. However, there was no question in my mind that the CSR made it much easier on the driver to go faster - you feel more confident about driving at the limit and carrying more speed.

    But these are not massive differences. 10-20hp could make difference. Switch from 15 inch to 13 inch wheels makes the CSR even faster. There are a lot of factors that can determine a test result like the one above.

    That said, the CSR is a touring monster, very fast point to point on second hand road surfaces.

    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration - engine and dry sump install time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (restoration - engine rebuild)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (will repaint to original color in 2020)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (fettling after long period of storage)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2019


    Great, concise, comparison. Thanks.
    I wonder why Caterham didn’t stick with CSR?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    South Bay, CA


    Vote from me for CSR. I’m not experienced with the various chassis, but the CSR is very comfortable on the street. I can keep up with any other vehicle on rough road so long as I don’t fear hitting the sump. With the doors on my wife almost fell asleep on a short blat. I’m only 1k miles in, but it hasn’t bitten me yet.


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