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This week’s Lotus special? The most hardcore Exige ever

What’s in the water in Hethel? Exige Cup 380 loses weight and creates more downforce

A week ago we were greeted with news of a hardcore Lotus Evora Sport 410 for the US market. Well, it appears Lotus’ engineers had a few too many at the launch party and have worked their magic on an Exige, too.

And it may be the most crackers version, well, ever. Called the Exige Cup 380, it essentially takes the already sublime handling, searingly fast and track-ready Exige Sport 380 and exaggerates everything about it.

Take the bodywork. There’s a 43 per cent increase in downforce, unlocked via a motorsport-spec diffuser and outrageous front splitter, plus 911 GT3 RS-style cut-outs in the shell.

So, at the 175mph top speed, there’s 200kg of invisible pressure squeezing the Cup 380 into the road. Or track. Yes, make that ‘track’. 

Harnessing this grip are wider rear tyres: 285-section Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Wider tyres obviously add a bit of weight, and this has offended Lotus, who made merry with the carbonfibre machine elsewhere and used it for the side intakes, engine cover and interior trim.

Select all the lightweight options, including a titanium exhaust and airbag delete (told you it was serious), and this thing posts a dry weight of 1,057kg.

Power remains identical to the standard Exige Cup: a meaty 375bhp, courtesy of a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 connected to a world-class six-speed open-gate manual gearbox.

Launch it hard and you’ll pass 62mph in 3.4 seconds. Meanwhile, there are new toggles for selecting the exact percentage of wheelspin you’d like from the traction control – or you can turn everything off. How brave are you feeling?

Want one? You’ll need the number of a Lotus dealer sharpish, because only 60 examples of the Cup 380 are being made. You’ll also require the small matter of £83,000 pre-options.

But if you miss out, there’ll most likely be an even faster, lighter Lotus next week instead. Stay tuned…

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