Less is more.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed was the scene for quite a few new super cars along with classics and vintage racers racing up the iconic hill. It also played home to the new Lotus 3-Eleven – the quickest and most expensive series production Lotus ever.
The 3-Eleven is the quintessential Lotus with an unequaled driving experience and connection to the road through a simple formula that has made the British automaker so special. The concept of less is more is the basis for the design and construction of the Lotus 3-Eleven with a dedication to keeping weight to a minimum. Two versions will be available – Road and Race, built to take on either the street or the track depending on the desires of their owners.
“We always say that to make a sports car better, you make it faster and lighter. The new Lotus 3- Eleven carries that philosophy to a new level, and is perfectly in keeping with our brand values,” said Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer for Group Lotus plc. “This new car is a giant slayer, 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 new Lotus 3-Eleven is powered by a tuned version of the same supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the Evora 400. Here, the engine produces 450 horsepower at 7,000 RPM and 332 lb-ft. of torque from 3,500 to 6,500 RPM. In the Road version, the 3-Eleven boasts a close-ration, six-speed manual gearbox with a Torsen-type limited slip differential with performance clutch assembly and oil cooler, while its hardcore Race sibling boasts a six-speed sequential gearbox with dry sump and paddle shifters, a limited slip differential, and an oil cooler.
The high-power output of the Lotus 3-Elevel is paired up with an incredibly low dry weight. The Race version tips the scales at just 1,984 lbs. thanks to its lightweight construction and body. The new composite body is 40-percent lighter than conventional GRP and is the first of its kind in a production car.
The new body has a more aggressive but purposeful design shaped around aerodynamic function. The front clam shell boasts larger openings compared to the previous model to aid in cooling the engine and gearbox. Different spoilers are fitted depending on the Road or Race version, with both incorporating the large front fenders to cover the track. Air exits the front wheel arches through large vents and is redirected away from the rear wheels thanks to the shape of the body.
The Lotus 3-Eleven has no windscreen nor does it have doors, only a purposeful design. The roll bar is fully incorporated into an innovative aerodynamic cage that works to generate downforce along with the rear wing, which is again different for the Road and Race versions. The rear is rounded off with a new diffuser and under-tray that reduces drag while integrating the exhaust system in a centrally-mounted setup.
The low overall weight, aerodynamic shape, and high-output V-6 engine lends to a magical power-to-weight ratio that makes driving an adrenaline-pumping joy. In Race form, the Lotus 3-Eleven boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 500 horsepower per tonne and can reach 60 mph from rest in less than 3.0 seconds. Top speed is pegged all the way back at 174 mph in the Race version while the Road version can reach 180 mph. Downforce is also impressive with 474 lbs. of downward push generated at 150 mph, lending to superb handling characteristics at high speed.
The chassis is focused and precise. Lotus gave the 3-Eleven sports lightweight forged aluminum wheels, AP Racing brakes with Bosch ABS, and a tuned suspension to create a bespoke chassis. Forged aluminum alloy wheels measuring a staggered 18-inches up front and 19-inches at the rear are fitted with 255/40 ZR18 and 275/35 ZR19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport or Cup 2 tires depending on the Road or Race variant. Behind those wheels sit AP Racing four-pistons with grooved and vented two-part discs measuring 322 mm at both axles, controlled by a Lotus-tuned Bosch ABS system. Cutting through corners is easy thanks to the double-wishbone front and rear suspension setup with Eibach springs and Ohlins adjustable dampers, and an adjustable front anti-roll bar to give drivers the ability to fine-tune their handling dynamics.
The Lotus 3-Eleven has an interior that’s focused on one thing: driving. Customers can opt for an aeroscreen and passenger seat to accommodate two people. If you desire solitary driving, the passenger seat can be removed and an optional tonneau cover fitted to improve aerodynamics even further. Drivers are faced with a quick-release steering wheel and TFT color screen with road and track modes, with the Race variant boasting a data logger system.
In the Road variant, the Lotus 3-Eleven features Lotus sports seats with four-point harnesses as standard fare. In Race form, an FIA-spec race seat with six-point harness comes standard along with a fire extinguisher and battery kill switch.
The hardcore, driver-oriented Lotus 3-Eleven will be hand made at the company headquarters in Hethel, England, with each vehicle being finished in the Lotus Motorsport dedicated workshop prior to being delivered. Only 311 vehicles will be produced with production starting in February of 2016 and deliveries in April 2016. Prices will start at £82,000 for the Road version including VAT, while the Race version is priced at £96,000 (£115,200 including VAT).
Lotus 3-Eleven Specifications
Displacement: 3.5 liters
Number of Cylinders: V-6
Maximum Horsepower: 450 / 456 PS / 336 kW at 7,000 RPM
Maximum Torque: 332 lb-ft. / 450 Nm from 3,500 to 6,500 RPM
Acceleration 0-62 mph: Less than 3.0 seconds (Race version)
Top Speed: 174 mph (Race) 180 mph (Road)
Downforce: 474 lbs. at 150 mph
Wheels, Tires, Brakes, and Suspension:
Wheels: Lightweight forged aluminum alloy
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport or Cup 2
Front Tires: 225/40 ZR18
Rear Tires: 275/53 ZR19
Brakes: AP Racing four-piston front and rear calipers with 332 mm discs
Suspension: Double-wishbones, adjustable front anti-roll bar, Eibach springs, and Ohlins adjustable dampers.
Lotus 3-Eleven Gallery