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Lotus unleashes the fastest Exige ever

Exige Sport 380 weighs nearly a tonne less than Sport 350 it's based on

Published: November 24, 2016, 10:00 PM
Updated: November 28, 2016, 5:20 AM

Lotus Exige Sport 380

Lotus has introduced a new Exige at the top of its line-up, in the new Sport 380 — the fastest and most aggressive Exige ever — with improvements in power, aerodynamics and weight reduction (the hallmarks of Lotus performance).

It starts with weight reduction that brings overall weight to almost a tonne (1,100 kg curb weight and 1,066 kg dry), thanks to a carbonfibre body over an aluminum structure. Then, factor in the 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 that puts out 375 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque, and you get zero to 100km/h times of 3.7 seconds. Top speed is about 286 km/h.

“We have built upon the foundations of the excellent Exige Sport 350 and developed a perfectly proportioned, intuitive and attainable supercar for real roads,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc. “The cut in weight is nothing short of drastic and, combined with the hike in power and its enhanced agility, we’ve created something exceptional — far greater than the sum of its parts. The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own.”

Among the unique features are hand-made carbonfibre body components above and beyond those found on the 350 — front splitter, front access panel, rear wing and rear diffuser surround. All totalled, it adds up to a savings of 2.7 kg. The features add to aerodynamic enhancements, as do front canard wings ahead of the wheel wells and air blades behind the rear wheels. Combined, they supply 140 kg of downforce at top speed (a 60% gain over the Sport 350, without increasing drag)

The polycarbonate rear window trims another kg from the typical glass window, forged wheels and grooved brake discs take off a combined 10 kg, a lithium-ion battery also save 10 kg, and the carbon race seats save 6 kg. Combining rear lights and insetting fog lights shaved off another 0.3 kg. An optional Titanium exhaust takes off another 10 kg.

The optional Carbon Exterior Pack swaps out the soft top for a carbon roof panel and adds a distinctive carbon louvered tailgate. The swaps are neutral with the roof panel adding 2 kg to the overall weight, while the louvered tailgate takes 2 kg away.

Lotus Exige Sport 380 shifter

And partly for weight savings and partly for show, the interior features the floor mounted aluminum 6-speed manual shifter with exposed linkage. Starting in spring 2017, the car will also be available with a 6-speed automatic, controlled via steering wheel paddles.

Befitting an auto company that has made its name on handling, the Exige Sport 380 features the Lotus Dynamic Performance Management that changes throttle response, lowers the threshold of wheel slip, and removes understeer recognition when the driver engages one of the enhanced modes (Sport or Race). Track enthusiasts can also opt for a Track Pack that provides Nitron two-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.

The interior is equally sporting, with Alcantara trimmed racing seats (or leather or tartan), with contrast stitching. An optional Colour Pack provides contrasting surrounds (available in four colors) for the transmission console, HVAC controls, carbon seat eyelets and electric window bezels.

An in keeping with the track-minimalist theme, there are no radio or air-conditioning (optional), though buyers can specify an integrated entertainment system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth functionality. Other Lotus Exclusive personalization options are also available.

Available in 10 exterior colors, the new car is being heralded by Lotus as best sports car under £100,000 (it starts at £67,900), and a worthy competitor to 6-figure supercars.