Lotus is making good on its promise to return to its roots of making lightweight sports cars. The British automaker has just revealed details of the new Lotus Exige Sport 350, the lightest incarnation of its smallest coupe.
The lighter and more powerful Exige Sport 350 joins the recently announced Lotus Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220. Still based on the automaker's lightweight extruded aluminum chassis, the Exige Sport 350 features a composite body with a muscular shape and revised aerodynamics.
The new model has been put through the automaker's "Lightweight Laboratory" and has lost 112 pounds over the previous Exige S for a claimed weight of just 2,480 pounds. Some tactics to lower the overall weight include a louvered tailgate panel (in place of the glass tailgate), a lighter battery, lightweight engine mounts, a lighter center console with exposed gearshift mechanism, new HVAC piping, and revised sound insulation.
In addition to reducing overall weight, the Exige Sport 350 is made faster thanks to its supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated 345 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Lotus claims the new car can hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds (manual) and has a top speed of 170 mph. The base six-speed manual has been revised with machined and cast aluminum bits for more precise and quicker shifting. An available six-speed automatic can be manually shifted via forged aluminum paddles behind the steering wheel. The optional transmission is said to provide 240-millisecond up-shifts and rapid downshifts with automatic throttle-blip in Sport mode. Lotus says the automatic-equipped car can hit 62 mph in 3.8 seconds.
The new lighter rear louvered tailgate is said to also lower the car's center of gravity as well as aid engine bay cooling. Revised aerodynamics produces 93 pounds of downforce at 100 mph. The suspension features firmer dampers and revised geometry, while the brakes feature four-piston calipers. Lotus claims the Exige Sport 350 is the company's first car to lap its Hethel test track under 1:30 seconds. The Exige Sport 350 lapped the track in 1:29.8 seconds 2.5 seconds faster than the ExigeS.
Inside, the Exige Sport 350 receives larger switches for the Dynamic Performance Management system, which offers "Drive," "Sport," and "Race" modes. Also, the headlight and rear fog light switches have been mounted near the engine start button. An available heritage theme interior features red or yellow Tartan trim, the latter of which is a throwback to the 1976 Lotus Esprit S1. Leather and Alcantara options are also available.
Other options include lightweight forged alloy wheels (saving 11 pounds), cross drilled and vented two-piece brake discs (saving 11 pounds), black or yellow four-piston calipers, air conditioning, infotainment system, and a carpet and sound insulation pack. The lightest configuration can weigh as little as 2,458 pounds, according to Lotus.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 will go on sale in Europe in February with other markets to follow in March. But don't expect to see the lightweight coupe in the U.S. anytime soon.