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Lotus creates new 3-Eleven for road or track

Only 311 of new lightweight Lotus two seater will be crafted by hand in England

Published: June 27, 2015, 11:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:52 PM

Lotus 3-Eleven Race version

It’s no big surprise when a manufacturer unveils a new model and make it available in two versions and Lotus is doing just that with the new 3-Eleven … it’s introducing a Road and a Race version.

Lotus is heralding the 3-Eleven as its quickest and most expensive series production car to date, with testament to the former being a supercharged 3.5-litre V6 making 450 hp (and max torque of 332 lb.ft. available from 3500 to 6500 rpm), and the latter supported by an out the door price of £82,000 for the Road version (about $159,000 Canadian) and the Race version coming in at £115,200 ($223,500).

In true British sports car tradition, the 3-Eleven is an open cockpit two seater. Less traditional is that it doesn’t have a windshield, doors or a passenger seat. The windshield and passenger seat can be added for road use (but can be easily removed on track days).

Lotus 3-Eleven Race version

The Race version is based on the Road version (which is already blessed with a lightweight aluminum-intensive structure and composite body panels), with the addition of a more aggressive aero kit (increasing downforce up to 215 kg at 240 km/h), a six-speed sequential gearbox (the road version gets a six-speed manual) and FiA approved driver’s seat with six-point harness.

The chassis features Lotus’ extruded and bonded aluminum sections, and lightweight double wishbone suspension front and rear. For handling prowess to the driver’s desires, the car features Eibach springs with adjustable dampers, and an adjustable front antiroll bar.

Coming in at under 900 kg, the Race version makes an impressive 500 hp per tonne, which allows it to accelerate to 100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds and to reach a top speed of 280 km/h. The Road version can actually hit 290.

To maintain traction, a limited slip differential is standard and so is traction control. The car rides on aluminum 18-inch front wheels shod with 225/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, while the rear 275/35ZR19s on 19-inchers. The Race version uses Michelin Cup 2 tires.

“We always say that to make a sports car better, you make it faster and lighter,” Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer for Group Lotus plc said at the car’s introduction at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed. “This new car is capable of embarrassing far more expensive rivals. It condenses our engineering know-how into one, hard-core package, and is so focused that it won’t suit everyone. This is a perfect demonstration of the faster and lighter concept, something which will be crucial to all Lotus cars in the future.”

The cockpit puts function over form but does feature a thin-film-transistor display that can be tailored for road or track use, depending on the type of information the driver desires to be fed. A quick-release steering wheel is standard issue, as are sport seats with four-point harnesses. The Race version gets a data logger, fire extinguisher and battery kill switch.

The car goes into production in February 2016, with deliveries to start in April. There will only be 311 cars made by hand in Hethel, England.