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Lotus puts its most powerful engine into a lighter Exige
430bhp? In an aero-hungry Exige? That’ll be the new ‘Cup’. Yowser
Here’s the latest mix’n’match from the Lotus toybox. The idea: extract the 430bhp supercharged V6 from the ultimate Evora, the GT430, and apply it vigorously to the smaller, lighter, more track-happy Exige. Lavish with literally a quarter-tonne more downforce, and the result is this, the new Lotus Exige Cup 430. And it’s a hundred thousand pounds. So, we’d better get tucked into that spec, quickly. Before Lotus thinks of another special edition version of this series production model.
Hethel claims the charge-cooled, 3.5-litre, 325lb ft engine is capable of punting the little Exige from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds, which is fairly crackers for a machine with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. A sublime, open-gate manual, at that.
It’s helped on its merry way with a 12kg weight saving – once all the lightweight carbon fibre option boxes are ticked. Done that? Good. Now, your Exige weighs in at 1,056kg. Pretty incredible for a car cradling a Toyota-developed V6 lump once destined for your grandpa’s Camry.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot more downforce, a lot more of the time. The old Exige Cup 380, which this car replaces, generated 200kg of downforce at 175mph. The Cup 430, thanks to its wider front splitter, wheelarch cutouts, and taller rear wing, is said to be developing 100kg of aerodynamic grip at 100mph. So you won’t need that cheeky confidence-lift through a fourth-gear corner on your next track day. Feeling brave?
Maximum downforce is 220kg (should Lotus’ new slogan be Complicate And Add Aero?), and the top speed is up nominally to 180mph. As a result, the Exige Cup 430 is this week’s Fastest Lotus Ever around the Hethel test track, after its 1min 24.8sec effort walloped the road-spec 3-Eleven lightweight by 1.2 seconds. That’s mad. The 3-Eleven doesn’t even have a roof.
Other tweaks under the Exige’s fibreglass and carbon worth knowing about include a beefier clutch, a steel roll bar, a (10kg lighter) titanium exhaust and the no-cost option of tartan seats instead of business-like Alcanatra. Think about that. You could have one of these and a Golf GTI, for the ideal two-car chequered-seat garage. Is it too early to submit a Christmas list?
Bad news if you live in the USA or Canada: you can’t buy an Exige Cup 430. What’s that? You dwell in Europe and you’re a fan of massively overspecified engines in flyweight cars? Well, step right up! Just be sure to bring the necessary £99,800 with you…