Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a track beast for the road


Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a track beast for the road

When Lotus wants to make a vehicle quicker, it may add some power, but it also focuses on removing weight.

Lotus has one-upped itself with the new Exige Cup 380.

When Lotus unveiled the Exige Sport 380 late in 2016, it was the quickest Exige ever built. Making their first appearance on a road-going Lotus, heavily revised bodywork elements contribute to the increased downforce of the Exige Cup 380, with the auto generating up to 200 kg, 43% more than the Exige Sport 380.

Under the hood, the Cup 380 uses the same motor as the Sport 380 - a supercharged, 3.5-liter V6 putting out 375 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque.

The new model is basically an evolution of the Sport 380, featuring heavily revised bodywork elements which increase downforce by 43 percent, producing up to 200kg (440 lbs), a dry weight of 1,057kg (2,330lbs) thanks to the application of carbon fiber and the company's extreme engineering and a power-to-weight ratio of 355hp per tonne. Even the windshield wiper's resting position has been changed to improve airflow.

More basic weight-saving measures such as doing away with the boot carpet and gas tailgate struts, as well as replacing standard interior trim pieces with lighter items, further help to reduce the car's mass. With the two elements working in combination, this huge boost in grip allows the vehicle to corner harder and faster which, given with the Exige's existing reputation as a driver's auto, elevates it to a whole new level. And if that's not enough, you can save another 2.2 pounds by choosing the optional HVAC and air vent surrounds, and 22 pounds with an optional exhaust system.

The supercharged Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 continues to make 375hp at 6,700rpm and 410Nm (302lb-ft) of torque at 5,000rpm and is mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with a handsome open-gate design. Sport, Race and Off increase throttle response, lower traction slip thresholds and remove understeer recognition to provide a finer degree of driver control before intervention and utilises an engine exhaust bypass valve which reduces exhaust back pressure at higher engine speeds.

Sporting Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires as standard, the Exige Cup 380 grips the road like a scared rabbit running from an apex predator.

Adjustable dampers and rear anti-roll bars are fitted to the suspension as standard, while the brakes are upgraded to four-piston AP Racing units. The auto is stopped by four-piston brake calipers at all four corners, and a standard steel roll bar protects the driver.

For owners wanting more, the new Exige Cup 380 can be personalised through the increasingly popular Lotus Exclusive programme.

Pricing starts at $106,399 dollars in the United Kingdom, while in Germany, the Exige Cup 380 starts at $117,990 based on current exchange rates.