Lotus has unveiled its Exige Sport 350, which is lighter and faster than the previous model.
Set to arrive in Australia in the middle of 2016, the Exige Sport tips the scales at just 1,125kg – 51kg lighter than the old Exige S, thanks to the Lotus lightweight extruded aluminium chassis structure and composite bodywork.
According to Lotus, its engineers weighed every component in the previous Exige S in order to save weight. The result of which includes, amongst many other changes, the introduction of a louvred tailgate panel, a lighter battery, lightweight engine mounts, a lightweight centre console featuring an exposed gearshift mechanism, lighter HVAC pipework and the optimized use of sound insulation.
Under the car’s bonnet is the same 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine that generates 258kW at 7,000rpm and 400Nm of torque at 4,500rpm. Lotus has also revised the suspension tuning and wheel geometry to improve vehicle dynamics and steering precision. Coupled with the car’s lower mass, the Exige Sport 350 will hit 100km/h from a standstill in 3.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 274km/h.
The car’s manual gearbox has also been heavily revised for more precise and quicker shifting. The gearshift mechanism uses light weight machined and cast aluminium components, which are so technically and aesthetically appealing they are no longer hidden within the transmission tunnel but exposed through an open-gate design, further reducing weight.
For those who prefer the car to do the shifting, the Lotus Exige Sport 350 is available with a six-speed automatic transmission that comes with forge aluminium steering wheel paddles. Lotus claims up-shifts take just 240 milliseconds, while downshifts are accompanied by automatic throttle-blip when in Sport mode.
Automatic models are also quicker, accomplishing the 0-100km/h dash in 3.8 seconds.
The previous car’s glass tailgate has been replaced with a newly designed lightweight, strong and stiff, rear louvered tailgate that not only helps lower the Exige’s centre of gravity, but also aids engine bay cooling – a feature first introduced on the Lotus Esprit Turbo in 1980.
The Exige Sport 350’s aerodynamic styling produces 42 kg of down force at 160 km/h with the rear wing and flat underside both contributing to its aerodynamic performance and balanced handling.
Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) 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.
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).
Optional extras for the Exige Sport 350 in Europe include lightweight forged alloy wheels (reducing kerb weight by a further 5 kg), cross drilled and vented two-piece brake discs (shaving yet another 5 kg off the weight), black or yellow painted four-piston callipers, air conditioning, an in-car entertainment system and full carpet and sound insulation pack. Interior packs cover Alcantara, leather and Tartan options, for both seat and door trims. By selecting the lightweight options available the total weight of the Exige Sport 350 becomes a featherweight 1115 kg. Standard and optional equipment for the Exige Sport 350 for Australia and New Zealand will be announced when it goes on sale next year.
As standard, the front splitter, rear wing, front access panel, roof panel, wing mirrors and rear transom are finished in matt black to complement the car’s aggressive stance; with the option for these components to be painted in body colour at no additional cost.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 will also be available as a Roadster from late 2016.
Australian and New Zealand pricing and specifications for the Lotus Exige Sport 350 will be announced when it arrives in mid-2016.