Lotus has unveiled its most extreme Exige ever, designed to compete with the performance of million-ringgit supercars. Dubbed the Lotus Exige Sport 380, it features a more powerful engine and increased use of lightweight materials compared to the standard Sport 350.
High-gloss carbon fibre peppers the exterior, including the front splitter, front access panel, rear diffuser surround and rear wing, saving a total of 2.7 kg. There’s also a polycarbonate rear window that drops nearly a kilogram all on its own, while the rear panel has been redesigned with just two tail light clusters instead of four – the reverse and fog lights have been mounted inboard to save another 0.3 kg.
Aerodynamics has also been improved, with front flics, a redesigned front access panel, rear air blades and the new rear wing all helping to develop 140 kg of downforce, up 60% over the Sport 350 – without any increase in drag.
Completing the changes are standard ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels measuring 17 inches at the front and 18 inches in the rear and shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, hiding AP Racing four-piston brake callipers and two-piece slotted brake discs. These combine to save a total of 10 kg.
Inside, carbon fibre race bucket seats – upholstered in either Alcantara, leather or tartan – cut another 6 kg, and there are also optional carbon fibre sill covers with a lower profile and a contoured finish to aid ingress and egress. The Sport 350’s exposed manual gearbox linkage has been retained.
Elsewhere, a lithium-ion battery saves 10.3 kg, while the Track Pack option adds Nitron two-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars. There’s also an optional titanium exhaust system that cuts a further 10 kg, along with a Carbon Exterior Pack with a one-piece carbon roof panel and a distinctive carbon louvered tailgate.
The carbon roof is 2 kg heavier than the soft top (the Sport 380 comes standard as a roadster; the optional coupe bodystyle is heavier), but that is offset by the 2 kg lighter tailgate. All-in-all, the Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,066 kg dry with all lightweight options ticked, 49 kg lighter than the standard Sport 350 with a manual gearbox.
The lighter mass is complemented by a revised 3.5 litre supercharged Toyota V6, now developing 375 hp at 6,700 rpm and 410 Nm at 5,000 rpm, 30 hp and 10 Nm up from the Sport 350. Mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed auto with paddle shifters, the Sport 380 goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds before topping out at 286 km/h with the manual and 274 km/h with the auto.
Lastly, the Sport 380 comes with Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) with enhanced Sport and Race settings – in these settings the throttle response is proportionally increased, while traction slip thresholds are lowered and understeer recognition is dropped, providing a finer level of control before intervening. There’s also an engine exhaust bypass valve that reduces back pressure, further improving performance.