Lotus has unveiled its latest speedster in the form of the the Exige Sport 380, deemed the most aggressive iteration yet for the model line up. Taking the fight straight to six-figure supercars, this new, top-of-the-range model carries over the lessons learnt in the development of the acclaimed Exige Sport 350, launched last year, but with significant revisions lowering weight, boosting power and enhancing aerodynamics.
While employing some of the high-performance components premiered on the Exige Sport 350, Lotus returned to the Lightweight Laboratory in order to cut kilos from the kerb weight. Infused with carbon fiber from front to back, the Exige Sport 380 features hand-made, high-gloss visible weave components as standard to deliver a weight saving when compared to the Exige Sport 350. This includes the front splitter, revised front access panel, new rear wing and rear diffuser surround, which together save 2.7 kg.
A lightweight, transparent polycarbonate rear window saves 0.9 kg over the glass equivalent in the Exige Sport 350. In addition, the carbon race seats (-6 kg), lithium- ion battery (-10.3 kg), ultra-lightweight forged wheels and grooved two-piece brake discs (-10 kg) combine to cut a massive 26.3 kg. A new design of rear transom panel now has two rear light clusters, rather than the four on the Exige Sport 350, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard, cutting weight by a further 0.3 kg.
In line with its illustrious lineage, the Exige Sport 380 employs Lotus’ lightweight extruded and bonded aluminium structure, as the company continues to lead in the field of advanced automotive construction techniques.
The company’s powertrain division has left its mark on the car, with the uprated 3.5-liter supercharged V6 engine generating 375 hp at 6,700 rpm and 410 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. Refined from extensive testing and development, it’s a design that’s proved its mettle by powering some of Lotus’ latest supercars, including the track-focused 3-Eleven and the recently revealed Evora Sport 410.
The power boost comes from a revised supercharger pulley, which increases charge pressure, an uprated fuel pump, a recalibrated ECU and the introduction of a revised exhaust system, as used in the Evora 400 and Evora Sport 410. Allowing owners to enjoy the new Exige for longer between fuel stops, it also comes with an enlarged, 48-liter petrol tank.
Providing faster, cleaner changes, the Exige Sport 380’s six-speed manual gearbox uses Lotus’ acclaimed open-gate design. Eliminating lateral movement, by precisely aligning components, it features light-weight machined and cast aluminium parts. Aesthetically appealing, the open transmission mechanism also helps contribute to the car’s reduced weight. The manual gearbox has been further enhanced through the introduction of a new oil cooler, ensuring the gears operate at the optimal temperature no matter how hard they are performing.
The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is also available with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox, where drivers can select gears sequentially via the forged aluminium paddles located behind the steering wheel, or rely on the gearbox’s fully automatic mode. The automatic gearbox option will be available from Spring 2017.
The Lotus Exige Sport 380 features Lotus’ Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) which provides enhanced ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings. Proportionally increasing throttle response, lowering traction slip thresholds and removing understeer recognition. DPM also utilizes an engine exhaust bypass valve at mid-to-high engine speeds, further reducing back pressure to boost throttle response and engine performance in both ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings.
As with all Lotus cars, aerodynamic efficiency plays a key role in the Exige, helping it to drastically expand its performance envelope.The revised front access panel modifies the air flow exiting the car’s horizontally mounted radiators, before it travels over the car, while the carbon front spoiler and rubber lip spoiler combined with the carbon barge boards reduce pressure under the vehicle.
In addition, twin pairs of front canard wings, mounted forward of the front wheels, a carbon rear wing and air blades behind the rear wheels, all work to help raise downforce to a massive 140 kg at maximum speed, a 60% gain over the Exige Sport 350, which generates 88 kg at its maximum speed.
Favoring mechanical solutions over electronic systems, including key parts such as unassisted steering, means that the Exige Sport 380 delivers the driver an intuitive experience. The extensive use of carbon fibre on the bodywork has lowered the centre of gravity, helping contribute to the Exige’s exemplary steering feel and precision handling characteristics.
Making the most of its performance potential, the Exige Sport 380 is fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres as standard (265/35 ZR18 rear and 215/45 ZR17 front). Meantime, the compact supercar takes on ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels, available in either black or silver, as well as optional AP Racing forged, four-piston brake callipers and grooved performance two-piece brake discs.
In addition to its already impressive credentials, it’s possible to sharpen the Exige further still. Opting for the full exhaust system in titanium improves the car’s overall balance, by removing 10 kg from beyond the rear axle. For customers who frequently go to the track, the optional Track Pack provides Nitron two-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.
The optional Carbon Exterior Pack contains a one-piece carbon roof panel and a distinctive carbon louvered tailgate. The carbon roof panel is 2 kg heavier than the standard soft-top but this weight increase is offset by the carbon louvered tailgate which saves 2 kg.
As befitting such a stand-out car, the Exige Sport 380 is sprayed and hand finished in one of ten individual colors. The car’s kerb appeal is enhanced by revisions to the Exige’s design front and back. Distinctive blackened headlight surrounds provide a more aggressive demeanor, whilst to visually accentuate the width of rear of the car, a new rear transom features two light clusters rather than four. Personalization programs are available for more customization options.
The hand finished detailing continues inside, with the carbon fiber sports seats trimmed with either Alcantara®, leather or tartan, with all featuring contrast stitching. Additionally, the optional lightweight carbon fiber sill covers provide a motorsport theme when entering or exiting the Exige Sport 380 and, thanks to their lower profile and contoured finish, aid ingress and egress. The Interior Color Pack provides contrasting surrounds to the transmission console, HVAC surround, carbon seat eyelets and electric window bezels in one of four colors. A new integrated entertainment system can also be specified, including iPod® connectivity and Bluetooth® functionality, along with air conditioning.
The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is available as a roadster as standard and as a coupe as an option, from a starting price of 89,900 euros.
Edited: Lotus Cars