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It’s the Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster
Simplify and subtract roof: Lotus removes 40kg from revised Exige, making it the lightest yet
Lotus goes to many pernickety lengths to make its cars as lightweight as possible. Wafer-thin seats. Specially formed glassfibre bodywork. Even making bespoke pipes for its heater systems. Fantastically nerdy stuff. But the latest Exige to grace the Geneva motor show has taken a rather more simple, route-one approach. Can you guess? Yup, it’s the Exige Sport 350 Roadster, and it’s got no roof.
Throwing away the composite hard-top cuts a handy 10kg from the Exige 350’s kerbweight, making this supercharged, 345bhp V6 roadster an 1115kg car. And keen students of the laws of physics will already be nodding sagely at where that weight has been cut – right at the top of the car. Lower centre of gravity ahoy.
However, that’s not the end of the diet programme, because Lotus is offering the same weightwatchers menu of options for the Roadster as the coupe. Spec the lithium-ion battery, forged alloy wheels, two-piece brakes and carbon trim and you’ll shed another 30kg – that’s 1085kg, maths fans. Not too shabby at all for a car cradling a 3.5-litre V6 behind its cockpit.
Performance is vivid, but not simply an exercise in mega numbers. Yes, the 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds is in 911 GT3 territory, but the top speed, due to the Roadster’s less favourable high-speed drag, is ‘only’ 150mph. We like that. It shows this is a car that’s fast off the mark but hasn’t been compromised by chasing a shouty top speed most owners daren’t chase. In other words, Lotus has its priorities right.
Like the hard-top Sport 350 we drove (and adored) late last year, the Roadster gets an optional automatic which needs avoiding, because the car comes as standard with one of the world’s best manual gearboxes. Not just in the precise quality of its shift, but because Lotus is so proud of the aluminium mechanism, it’s left it totally naked, exposed to your viewing pleasure. And everyone else’s, now there’s no roof. That said, the optional tartan upholstery might just steal your glance first. Bit of an acquired taste, that – sign us up for yellow, please.
It’ll be priced a smidge above the Exige 350 Roadster, which sets you back £55,900 before you’ve chucked a few quid at the delicious menu of weight-banishing extras. For those of you predicting the new four-cylinder turbo Boxster has gone soft, this could be just organic fat-free antidote. Just avoid scoffing a big lunch beforehand.