New Lotus Exige Sport 380 – find out what ‘fastest’ means

  • Fastest Exige yet: 0-100km/h 3.5sec, 280km/h
  • Aerodynamic downforce 140kg at top speed
  • Nose-to-tail carbon components standard
2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress

LONDON, England – “High-powered, highly-evolved, ferociously fast” is how British sports-car maker Lotus describes its new Exige Sport 380.

This top-of-the-range model, Lotus adds, has gained from lessons learned during development of the Exige Sport 350 launched in 2015 then on top of that have reduced weight, boosted power and further refined aerodynamics.

“Rather than relying excessively on electronics, or allowing sterile interfaces to dull the experience,” Lotus says, “the extreme Exige Sport 380 offers a pure and undiluted drive that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress

“This pure-bred Lotus has been conceived to out-perform and out-manoeuvre so-called supercars. It dispatches 0-100km/h in 3.5sec and its top speed is about 285km/h.”

And heck, does it look good!

‘SOMETHING SPECIAL’

So keen is Lotus on driver involvement that the transmission tunnel gear-linkage is exposed. Carbon-fibre components have cut weight further and the car rides on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres standard (265/35 ZR18 rear and 215/45 ZR17 front).

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus, told The Corner in a media release: “We’ve saved something special for our last new car of 2016. We built on the foundations of the Exige Sport 350 and developed a perfectly proportioned, intuitive and attainable supercar for real roads.

“The cut in weight is nothing short of drastic and, combined with the increased 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.”

2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress

Brave words indeed… and Lotus says the Exige Sport 380 is claiming the car to be the best sports car under £100,000 (about R1.7-millon). “It’s a true supercar car for the road that focuses on the three key attributes that have made Lotus a favourite with driving enthusiasts – reduced weight, higher performance and honed aerodynamics.”

The Sport 380 has Lotus’ light extruded- and bonded aluminium structure as Lotus “continues to lead in the field of advanced automotive construction”.

2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress

Power comes from an uprated 3.5-litre supercharged V6 generating 280kW at 6700rpm and 410Nm at 5000rpm. “It’s been refined from extensive testing and development,” Lotus says. “It’s a design that’s proved its mettle by powering some of Lotus’ latest supercars, among them the track-focused 3-Eleven and the recently revealed Evora Sport 410.”

SIX-SPEED MANUAL OR AUTO

The extra power comes from increasing supercharger pressure, a more powerful fuel pump, recalibration of the engine control unit and revised exhaust plumbling. A perhaps un-asked for bonus is a 48-litre fuel tank.

The 380’s six-speed manual gearbox uses Lotus’ acclaimed open-gate design which eliminates lateral movement by precise alignment; it also has light machined and cast-aluminium parts. The window into its operation (see images) has also shaved weight.

A six-speed sequential autobox (pictured) also has change paddles on the steering column.

MORE DOWNFORCE, NO DRAG PENALTY

‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings proportionally increase throttle response, reduce traction-slip thresholds and removes understeer recognition to give the driver a finer level of control before the automatic intervention.

2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress

Various body bits, including small wings and blades behind the rear wheels have taken downforce at top speed to 140kg without, Lotus says, any drag penalty. There’s also no extra ironmongry for steering assistance – Lotus prefers “an intuitive experience”.

Want more than the ‘standard’ car? It’s possible to sharpen the Exige further with a titanium exhaust system (losing 10kg behind the rear axle) and a Track Pack provides Nitron two-way adjustable shock-absorbers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.

A Carbon Exterior Pack contains a one-piece carbon roof panel instead of the soft-top.

The cars have added to their identity with blackened headlight and, at the rear two, instead of four, light clusters. The cabin can be fitted with carbon-fibre sports upholstered with either leather or tartan cloth.

Buyers who want more can browse the Lotus Exclusive programme and if you’re in this price bracket, the Exige Sport 380 is available as a roadster or a coupe..

The basic retail price, converted to rands and ignoring delivery and local taxes, is about R1 154 000.

2017 LOTUS EXIGE: Images: Lotus / Newspress
2017 LOTUS EXIGE SPORT 380: Images: Lotus / Newspress
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