The Lotus Exige Sport 350 made its premiere this week. The stripped-back supercar is being dubbed “the ultimate incarnation” of the famous nameplate.
Lotus’ headline figures make for impressive reading. At 1125kg, the coupe weighs 51kg than the Exige S, while its 0-100km/h sprint time is as low as 3.8 seconds (down one-tenth).
The Exige Sport 350 is the latest Lotus model to receive the company’s renowned ‘Sport’ designation, joining the recently announced Lotus Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 – all delivering a lighter and even more performance-focused experience.
In other words, the Sport series Lotus models do what the British-based company does best. The two-seater Exige Sport 350 retains the signature lightweight extruded aluminium chassis structure with composite bodywork.
Lotus says it “weighed every component” to cut weight from elsewhere, though. It added a louvered tailgate panel in place of the glass unit like the one on an Esprit Turbo.
There’s also a lighter battery, lightweight engine mounts, a lightweight centre console featuring an exposed gearshift mechanism, lighter HVAC pipework and revised sound insulation.
The Toyota 3.5-litre supercharged V6 underneath is unchanged, though. It still produces 258kW at 7000rpm and 400Nm at 4500rpm.
But because of the weight changes, Lotus has revised the suspension, adding firmer dampers. The wheel geometry has also been fettled.
The manual gearbox has also been revised for more precise and quicker shifting. The gearshift mechanism uses lightweight machined and cast aluminium components, rather wonderfully exposed through a new open-gate design.
As with the regular Exige S, there’s also the option of a six-speed auto with forged aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel. In auto, up-shifts take 240 milliseconds, with rapid downshifts accompanied by a nifty automatic throttle-blip (when in Sport mode).
The optional automatic gearbox cuts the 0-110km/h print tie from 3.9 seconds in the manual to 3.8s.
The Sport 350 also has more downforce, with 42kg of said force at 160km/h, thanks in part to the rear wing and flat underside. As standard, the front splitter, rear wing, front access panel, roof panel, wing mirrors and rear transom are finished in matt black.
All told, the 350 Sport lapped Lotus’ test track 2.5 seconds faster than the previous Exige S model, in a time of 1 minute 29.8 seconds. This makes it the first production Lotus ever to go sub 1 minute 30 seconds around its Hethel track.
The familiar Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) system provides three discrete modes – ‘Drive’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ – with the latter offering increased levels of traction slip threshold, allowing wider drift angles before intervening.
The system also opens the engine exhaust bypass valve at mid-to-high engine speeds. Both ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings increase throttle responsiveness.
New larger switches with improved haptics have been introduced for the DPM system (Sport and Race) with the headlights and rear fog lights mounted together with the vehicle’s new engine start button.
There are further changes inside the sparse cabin beyond these buttons and the new-look gear-shifter. New trim packs introduce a “heritage theme” to the cabin with lightweight sports seats and door panels clad in red or yellow Tartan (leather or Alcantara interior trim options are also available). This reminds one of the 1976 Esprit S1.
Optional extras for the Exige Sport 350 include lightweight forged alloy wheels (reducing kerb weight by a further 5kg), cross-drilled and vented two-piece brake discs (shaving yet another 5kg off the weight),and black or yellow painted four-piston callipers.
Euro-spec models also only have air conditioning, an in-car entertainment system and full carpet and sound insulation pack as options.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 goes on sale in Europe in February 2016 and will be available outside Europe, excluding North America from March 2016. It will also be available as a Roadster from March 2016.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 will arrive in Australia and New Zealand in mid 2016, with the Roadster to follow from late 2016. Full pricing and specifications will announced closer to the time
The current Exige S coupe and convertible retail here for $132,990 (or $137,990 with the auto).
Lotus Exige Sport 350 tech specs:
- All alloy, 3.5 litre DOHC V6 VVT-i, 24-valve, equipped with Harrop HTV 1320 Supercharger utilising Eaton TVS™ Technology
- Mid mounted, transverse, rear wheel drive
- Lotus Electronic Throttle Control system
- 6 speed manual gearbox with sports ratios
- BOSCH Electronic Differential Lock (EDL)
Chassis and body
- Lightweight, extruded aluminium bonded chassis structure
- Fully independent double wishbone sports suspension with anti-roll bar
- Aerodynamically optimised front splitter, rear diffuser and wing
- Bilstein high performance gas dampers, front and rear
- Eibach coaxial coil springs, front and rear
- Red AP-Racing four-piston caliper high performance disc brakes
- Lotus / BOSCH tuned ABS system
- Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (Lotus DPM)
- Lightweight battery
- Gloss black, cast alloy wheels (17” front and 18” rear)
- Front Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres 205/45 R17
- Rear Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres 265/35 R18
- LED rear lamps with integrated direction indicators
- LED front day time running lights with integrated direction indicators
- Lightweight black louvered tailgate panel
- Matt black front splitter, rear wing, front access panel, wing mirrors, rear transom, hard top and rear diffuser (no cost deletion)
- Black leather, thick-rimmed sports steering wheel
- Polished aluminum gear knob and leather handbrake sleeve
- Black technical fabric sports seats with Lotus roundel
- Engine start push button
- Driver and passenger airbags
- Tyre puncture repair kit
- Lightweight black cast alloy wheels (16” front and 17” rear) (no cost option)
- Lightweight black or silver forged alloy wheels (16” front and 17” rear)