Coupe, Convertible, News, Sports Car

New Lotus Exige Sport 350 unveiled

Lotus has revealed its new Exige Sport 350.

The new model is lighter and faster than ever before. With a focus on pure performance, the two-seater has been developed to deliver an ‘unrivalled experience’ for the driver, being sharper and more direct than previous models. Drawing on the Exige’s core elements, the Sport 350 combines Lotus’ lightweight extruded aluminium chassis structure with ‘muscular and aerodynamically efficient’ composite bodywork.

A product of Lotus’ ‘Lightweight Laboratory’, the Exige Sport 350 weighs just 1125 kg and has shed 51 kg compared to the previous model Exige S. 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 louvered tailgate panel, a lighter battery, lightweight engine mounts, a lightweight centre console featuring an exposed gearshift mechanism, lighter HVAC pipework and the optimised use of sound insulation.

Powered by a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine, generating 345 hp and 295lbft of torque at 4500rpm, 0-62 mph takes 3.9 seconds (3.8 seconds with the automatic, due to electronically optimised gearshifts) and on to a top speed of 170 mph. The manual gearbox has been heavily revised for more precise and quicker shifting. The new Exige Sport 350 can be specified with a 6-speed automatic gearbox where drivers can also change gears manually via forged aluminium paddles located behind the steering wheel. The automatic gearbox control panel is integrated into the centre console of the cockpit, with buttons for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. Up-shifts take 240 milliseconds, with rapid downshifts accompanied by automatic throttle-blip (when in Sport mode).

Replacing the previous model’s glass tailgate, the newly designed lightweight, strong and stiff, rear louvered tailgate not only helps lower the centre of gravity, but also aids engine bay cooling. The car’s aerodynamic styling produces 42 kg of down force at 100 mph with the rear wing and flat underside both contributing to its aerodynamic performance and ‘finely balanced handling’. 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’.

There are three driving 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 trim packs introduce a heritage theme to the cabin with lightweight sports seats and door panels clad in red or yellow Tartan. The Tartan theme was first introduced in 1976 in the Lotus Esprit S1 and was a bold statement originally in keeping with the fashion of the time and now fitting for the new Exige Sport 350.

The Lotus Exige Sport 350 goes on sale in Europe in February 2016 and will be priced at £55,900 OTR.