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I’ve always been a big fan of Lotus, even though I’ll likely never have one unless I win the lottery that I’ve never entered, or a long-lost relative decides to leave me a huge sum of money. Still, I can admire Lotus for making some darn cool cars.
Lotus has made a name for itself by producing lightweight cars with incredible handling, which is why the company shocked many buyers when it switched to a 3.5 liter V6 engine for the Lotus Exige S, adding 375 pounds to the weight of the car.
With the new Lotus Exige Sport 350, the company is keeping the V6 while cutting out a lot of that extra weight.
Lighter and Faster
The Exige Sport 350 drops 112 pounds off the weight of the Exige S. That puts the final curb weight at 2,480 pounds. That’s more than a thousand pounds lighter than your average American muscle car like the Mustang. If you’re not familiar with Lotus, a 3.5 liter V6 may seem a little light on power, but this car certainly makes the most of it. That V6 accelerates the Exige Sport 350 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds faster than the heavier Exige S.
One way Lotus has cut down on the weight is by switching to aluminum for many of the gearshift components. The new shifting mechanism looks good, and Lotus is showing it off, placing it out in the open in the interior of the car rather than out of sight in the transmission tunnel.
The new car has a top speed of 170 mph. Although the company hasn’t said yet how quickly it gets there, I’d bet the car’s light weight will allow it to reach top speed faster than you might think. Of course, a car as light as this one will need a lot of downforce to stay on the ground at those speeds. Between the car’s body design and the rear wing, the car produces 93 pounds of downforce at 100 mph.
Speed is great, but a lot of sports cars are fast. Where Lotus really sets itself apart is in handling. While an objective measurement of how well a car handles is tough to find, the Exige S managed to grip the road hard and turn responsively and effortlessly, putting the Porsche 911 to shame.
With less weight and numerous design improvements, the Exige Sport 350 promises to raise the bar even higher. It has already beaten the Exige S by 2.5 seconds on the Hethel track, for a final time of 1 minute and 29.8 seconds.
Plenty of Options
The Exige Sport 350 will be available with either a manual transmission or an automatic one, and the latter includes paddle shifters on the steering wheel for manual gear changes. The automatic can up-shift in just 240 milliseconds, and downshifts automatically include an appropriate throttle blip when driving in sport mode. In fact, the electronically-optimized shifts make the car even faster, cutting down the zero-to-100 km/h (62 mph) time to 3.8 seconds, from 3.9 with a manual transmission.
If you want to shave an additional 22 pounds off the car’s weight, you can opt for lighter alloy wheels and brake discs that are cross-drilled and vented.
Lotus is also bringing back their old tartan interior in addition to the more conventional leather and Alcantara options. I absolutely love the plaid version, especially the yellow on black. It is a fitting nod to the company’s history.
Images via Autoblog.