Motoring / Cars and Bikes

Lotus Exige Race 380: Dedicated racing car is both light and fast

Sure to send fans of the luxury sportscar maker to the tracks, this is now the fastest Lotus Exige around

Jan 20, 2017 | By Vimi Haridasan

The final iteration of the mid-engine hardtop Lotus sportscar is the Exige Race 380, a dedicated track-only car that weighs less than 1000kg and will cost over $100,000, but for that owners will get a car that meets FIA regulations and that has set a new record around Lotus’s own Hethel test circuit.

Now that Lotus’s finances are well and truly back on track it’s about to start developing a flagship Esprit and testing the feasibility of a crossover or SUV. However, it hasn’t forgotten its hardcore fans and the reason why the company has managed to weather the storms of financial uncertainty — it makes some of the greatest track-focused cars that any amount of money can buy.

And the new Lotus Exige Race 380, announced on Thursday, continues in this tradition. Built exclusively for racing, it starts out life as the already ferocious yet road-legal Exige Sport 380 and jettisons regulatory elements like headlamps and airbags that hold back performance.

“The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a real giant slayer on the road,” said Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “It gave us the ideal platform from which to develop the new Exige Race 380.” It keeps the 3.5-liter supercharged V6 but now it’s mated to a six-speed Xtrac sequential transmission complete with carbon fiber steering column-mounted paddle shifts. There’s a limited slip differential, the gearbox gets its own oil cooler and the exhausts are lightweight titanium.

Built for teams and for individuals to race in sanctioned competitions, the car meets FIA criteria for its class so there’s a roll cage, racing seats with six-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher system and motorsport towing eyes for those moments when the car eventually runs out of grip and leaves the track.

However, thanks to adjustable dampers and roll bars all round plus external aerodynamic improvements that increase downforce to 240kg, it’s going to take some very heavy-handed piloting for the car to come unstuck.

As for performance, because the car tips the scales at just 998kg, it will go from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds but, more importantly, laps the Lotus Hethel test track in one minute, 23.5 seconds, making it the fastest Exige ever.

“By setting its weight below 1000kg, its power to weight is unsurpassed in its class. When lapping Hethel, it’s a phenomenal 1.5 seconds faster than the previous Exige Cup R — a massive performance gain,” said Gales.

Available to order now, the Lotus Exige Race 380 will cost £99,500 ($122,000) excluding taxes, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in May in time for the 2017-18 race season.

 
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