Lotus unleashes hard-core Exige
British sports car maker Lotus has unleashed the fastest, meanest Exige ever. Dubbed the Exige Sport 380, it packs a 280 kW power punch, yet weighs only 1 066 kg. The result is a supercar-slaying two-seater, Lotus claims.
The new flagship Exige model is an evolution of last year’s Sport 350, but improves on that car’s performance by trimming the mass and increasing the power, while enhancing aerodynamics.
Key features include extensive use of lightweight carbon fibre components, including the front splitter, rear wing, rear diffuser and racing seats. Other weight-saving measures include a lightweight lithium-ion battery, and lightweight forged alloy wheels. The total weight saving comes to around 26 kg, compared to the already trim Sport 350.
Power comes from a further developed version of the supercharged Lotus 3,5-litre V6, with the 280 kW delivered at 6 700 rpm. The 410 Nm torque peak is reached at 5 000 rpm. The extra urge is thanks to increased boost, a reprogrammed ECU, revised exhaust and high-pressure fuel pump.
A six-speed close-ratio gearbox with an open-gate design and short, sharp shift action is standard, although an auto box with shift paddles is an option. Naturally, drive is to the rear wheels only. Selectable driving modes tweak throttle response and traction control settings.
The Sport 380 gains an optimised aero package improves airflow over, around and underneath the car. Highlights include a new front spoiler, fixed rear wing, carbon barge boards and twin canard winglets ahead of the front wheels. Downforce is 140 kg at the Sport 380’s maximum speed.
Lotus is punting the newcomer as a purist sports car offering an undiluted (read intimidating and ferocious) driving experience. Given its mind-boggling power-to-weight ratio of 263 kW/ton, that’s no surprise. The Sport 380 despatches the 0-100 km/h sprint in 3,7 seconds, and reaches a 286 km/h top speed, Lotus claims.
But as with all Lotus cars, the real thrill should be in the handling of the car. The steering remains unassisted, promising a direct, analogue steering response, while Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres add vital grip. Braking is via AP four-piston callipers and grooved brake discs.
The UK price tag for this ultimate Lotus Exige is £67 900, which translates into around R1,2-million, before taxes, import duties and shipping.