In Depth

Lotus Exige Sport 380: All the details

Lighter and more powerful V6 can go from zero to 62mph in 3.5secs

Lotus has unveiled its final new car of the year, the Sport 380, a faster and lighter version of its Exige sports car.

Based on the Exige Sport 350 launched towards the end of 2015, the 380 has been stripped of more than 130lbs with the addition of lightweight forged wheels and aluminium parts, as well as a lighter lithium-ion battery.

It enters a relatively solitary market that Lotus has dominated since the original Elise, with other track-focused sports cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3 either costing substantially more or offering sub-par build quality.

From the performance boost to the new wings, here are all the details about the Sport 380.

Design

The Sport 380 retains the tightly packed bodywork of the base model Exige V6, although Lotus has added carbon fibre accents and wings around the front and rear.

In a bid to keep the car planted at high-speed, the company has developed a carbon fibre rear wing and rear diffuser, which combined produce an extra 60 per cent of downforce over their predecessors.

This has been achieved by using extensive CFD modelling work to utilise the external carbon fibre additions as an aerodynamic package. The front splitter and side barge boards are designed to lower the pressure underneath the car, sucking it to the ground and generating more grip around corners.

Interior

Lotus is known for making some of the lightest sports cars around and the Exige Sport 380 continues the minimalist approach inside.

The carbon fibre bucket seats remove 13lbs and can be specced with either Alcantara, leather or tartan upholstery. On manual models, the intricacies of the gear mechanism are almost fully exposed, with Top Gear saying it's "as much of a delight for its noise as its tactility".

Autocar reports the carbon fibre door sills have been lowered, making it "easier getting in and out".

Performance

Lotus has boosted the power output of the 3.5-litre V6 engine from 345bhp to 370bhp and bumped up the torque to 302lb-ft from the previous model's 295lb-ft. These tweaks launch the car from zero to 60mph in 3.5secs and on to a top speed of 178mph.Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres come as standard, as do forged AP Racing callipers and grooved two-piece brake discs. The front track has also been widened by 0.4ins (10mm) over the Sport 350 to increase mechanical grip.

Reviews

The Exige Sport 380 is another example of how Louts "continues to develop some of the best sports cars around", says Auto Express, with its noise and steering making it "one of the most visceral experiences around".

The absence of any steering assistance "relays uncorrupted feedback through the wheel" and its compact proportions allows the driver to "place the Exige with pinpoint accuracy", adds the magazine.

Top Gear agrees, calling the unassisted steering the "king of feel to the point of hyperactivity" while the new "aero stabilising effect" allows for greater stopping accuracy.

For a stripped-out sports car, the Sport 380 is "freakishly comfortable" thanks to the new Michelin tyres, it continues, adding that the Exige is "less punishing" compared to the £11,000 cheaper Sport 350.

Autocar calls the Exige Sport 380 "Lotus doing what it does best" and highlights the car's bucket seats - "comfortable enough for longer journeys" - and its "better finished" interior build quality.

While it may seem expensive at £67,900, there's a "complete absence of any kind of rival" and seems like a "bargain" compared to Porsche's GT division, the mag concludes.

Price

The Exige Sport 380 is available now at £67,500 and first deliveries are expected early in the new year.

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