The new benchmark.
Lotus has been a highly-regarded automotive brand by enthusiasts for decades due to their heritage and reputation for making proper driver’s cars. The formula is relatively simple: keep the weight low, the handling tight, and success will come. The new Lotus Exige Sport 350 is just that with a lot of power.
“The Lotus Exige is already regarded as one of the world’s best sports cars and a benchmark for performance and handling both on road and on track. With the Exige Sport 350 we took an already phenomenally quick car and made it even faster, more dynamic and more pure, perfectly demonstrating our Lotus design philosophy of ‘lighter and faster’,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc.
Let’s first start with the numbers. The new Lotus Exige Sport 350 tips the scales at just 2,480 lbs. – 112 lbs. lighter than the preview Exige S model. That comes thanks to Lotus engineers going over every part and either removing or replacing a few with new, lighter parts. Ticking off all the boxes for the optional lightweight package such as forged wheels, two-piece brake discs, and more brings that figure all the way down to 2,458 lbs.
Parts such as the louvred tailgate, battery, engine mounts, exposed center console, and even HVAC pipes and sound insulation were swapped out for lighter units in the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The basis for the sports car is the brand’s lightweight aluminum chassis structure with aerodynamically-optimized body work, which generates 93 lbs. of downforce at 100 mph.
The featherweight body is mated to a chassis that’s quick and nimble – the favorite flavor for drivers. Firmer dampers work with the newly reconfigured suspension geometry and low ride height to create an optimal center of gravity and handling dynamics. Four-piston brake calipers are hidden behind the 17- and 18-inch black cast alloy wheels shod in Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.
“Light weight is the most important aspect of our heritage and future Lotus cars will follow the direction of our most recently launched models, the Evora 400, Elise Sport and of course our latest Exige Sport 350, all of which are both lighter and faster than their predecessors,” said Gales. “Over the last 15 years, successive versions of the Lotus Exige have beaten more expensive sports car rivals in media comparison tests and I expect the Exige Sport 350 to continue this. The best has just got better!”
Power comes from the mid-mounted supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The Toyota-sourced motor generates 345 horsepower at 7,000 RPM and 295 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 RPM. When paired with the quicker-shifting, new six-speed manual gearbox, this allows the sports car to reach 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 170 mph. Opting for the six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles makes things just a tad bit quicker to 60 mph.
That performance has allowed it to set a lap time of 1:29.8 around the Hethel track, making it 2.5 seconds faster than the previous model and the first production Lotus to break the 1:30 barrier.
Inside, engineers spared nothing for the sake of weight. The Lotus Exige Sport 350 comes with lightweight sport seats that can be given red or yellow Tartan from the heritage theme package or leather and alcantara as an option. The manual transmission models have components that are exposed thanks to the removal of the transmission tunnel.
The new Lotus Exige Sport 350 will be available at dealerships in February of 2016 in Europe with an MSRP of £55,900, and outside of Europe (except the United States) in March of 2016. A roadster variant will also be available in March of 2016 as well.
Lotus Exige Sport 350 Specifications
Displacement: 3.5 liters
Number of Cylinders: V-6
Maximum Horsepower: 345 (350 PS) at 7,000 RPM
Maximum Torque: 295 lb-ft. /400 Nm at 5,400 RPM
Type: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Acceleration 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
Top Speed: 170 mph
Lotus Exige Sport 350 Gallery