As the ultimate incarnation of the world famous Exige, Lotus has revealed the Sport 350, that’s lighter and faster than ever before. The new Exige Sport 350 is the next model in the range to mark the reintroduction of the renowned ‘Sport’ naming designation. It joins the recently announced Lotus Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 – delivering a lighter and even more performance-focused driving experience.
Concentrating on what Lotus does best, the two-seater has been developed to deliver an experience for the driver, being sharper and more direct than previous models. Drawing on the core elements that have made the Exige a firm favorite with driving enthusiasts, the Exige Sport 350 combines Lotus’ lightweight extruded aluminum 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. Lotus engineers weighed every component in the previous Lotus 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 center console featuring an exposed gearshift mechanism, lighter HVAC pipework and the optimized use of sound insulation.
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, commented: “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’.”
The 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine generates 345 hp and 295lbft of torque at 4500rpm. Coupled with the car’s lower mass, this power and torque enables the Lotus Exige Sport 350 to accelerate to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds (0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds) before reaching a top speed of 170 mph (274 km/h).
The manual gearbox has been heavily revised, giving more precise and quicker shifting. The gearshift mechanism uses light weight machined and cast aluminum components which are so aesthetically appealing they are no longer hidden within the transmission tunnel but exposed through an open-gate design, further reducing weight. The Lotus Exige Sport 350 is also available with a 6-speed automatic option where drivers can change gears manually via forged aluminum paddles.
When fitted with the optional automatic gearbox, the new Exige Sport 350 is slightly quicker for 0-62 mph (0-100km/h), clocking a time of 3.8 seconds against 3.9 seconds for the manual gearbox, due to electronically optimized gearshifts.
Replacing the previous car’s glass tailgate, the newly designed lightweight, strong and stiff, rear louvered tailgate not only helps lower the Exige’s centre of gravity, but also aids engine bay cooling. The Exige Sport 350’s suspension, with firmer dampers and revised geometry, delivers more responsive handling and, combined with a lowered center of gravity and four piston brake calipers, help it lap Lotus’ test track 2.5 seconds faster than the previous Exige S model, in a time of 1 minute 29.8 seconds. This makes it the first production Lotus ever to go sub 1 minute 30 seconds around the famed Hethel track.
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. Optional extras for the Exige Sport 350 include lightweight forged alloy wheels, cross drilled and vented two-piece brake discs, air conditioning, an in-car entertainment system and full carpet and sound insulation pack.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 goes on sale in Europe in February and will be available outside Europe, however not in North America. Lotus has priced it at £55,900 (approximately $85,000).