Hethel, Norfolk – This is not a limited-edition hotrod, insists Lotus, the new Exige Cup 430 is a production car; anybody with £99 800 (R1.44 million) to spare can order one.
It’s an inspired piece of parts-bin engineering, combining the savagely potent supercharged 3.5-litre V6 of the Evora GT430 with the smaller and lighter Exige chassis and a specially developed body kit that gives it a phenomenal 220kg of downforce.
Thanks to a new Edelbrock supercharger and water-to-air charge cooler, new intake plumbing, a larger throttle body and an all titanium free-flow exhaust system, all developed specifically for this car, the big V6 is rated for 316kW at 7000 revs, and 440Nm at 4000rpm.
Given that in its lightest possible cofiguration the Cup 430 weighs just 1056kg, that’s a power-to-weight ratio of very nearly 300kW / ton – which has necessitated a new oil cooler configuration and an uprated 240mm clutch, 12mm larger in diameter.
Lotus quotes a 0-100 launch time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 290km/h, with the standard close ratio six-speed manual gearbox
The new front clam with special carbon fibre ducts has wider radiator openings, to allow for a new front splitter and air curtain mechanism to reduce drag, while a new lighter rear clam panel supports a larger, straight motorsport wing, high-mounted to increase downforce without affecting the car’s drag coefficient.
To balance the downforce front and rear, the new front splitter with trailing lip separates the airflow under the car so that new air curtain elements int the front clam panel move air though to the front wheel cavities to help reduce turbulence and drag generated by the front wheels.
The front louvres reduce the pressure within the front wheel arches, further increasing downforce, and the cut-out sections behind the rear wheels, also reduce wheel arch pressure.
But power, as any racing driver will tell you, is nothing without control; so the Cup 430 comes standard with new Nitron shocks, adjustable for rebound, and low and high-speed compression damping, and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – 215/45 ZR17 in front and 285/30 ZR18 at the rear – adorn lightweight forged alloy wheels, over forged, four-piston AP Racing brake callipers. Standard kit includes a T45 tubular-steel rollover bar, a new seatbelt anchorage frameand a lithium-ion battery; options include an FIA-compliant roll cage, and electrical cut-off and fire extinguisher controls.
There’s more of the light stuff inside, with handlaid visible-weave sections including a new binnacle surround, door sills and bespoke race seats with new lightweight seat runners.
Body-colour inserts brighten the seats, transmission console, centre stack and window switches, the centre console, door panels and dashboard are trimmed in alcantara synthetic suede; leather or tartan trim is no cost option, along with contrast stitching and an alcantara steering wheel.