Simplify, then add lightness. These are the ethos of Lotus Cars founder Sir Colin Chapman which certainly encapsulates the birth of this new Exige variant – the Lotus Exige Sport 350.
The 1,125kg Exige Sport was put through a really strict diet by shedding 51kg from the regular Exige S. One can argue that shedding weight from an already featherweight car is a nearly impossible feat, but the engineers at Lotus further developed lightweight components to serve this purpose. The new lighter parts comprise of a new louvered tailgate, battery, engine mounts, center console, HVAC piping and improved insulation materials.
The Exige retains the same 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine from the US-spec Toyota Camry that churns 345 hp with 400 Nm of torque. Lotus also improved the suspension and its six-speed manual gearbox. The latter also underwent an “Atkins” diet and exposed through an open-gate design, allowing a sense of rawness while swapping gears. And as expected, this Exige Sport 350 is now quicker off the line, sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
There’s also a six-speed automatic option with paddle shifters, but why would you want that? It adds 12kg onto the car, and we feel that a car of the Exige’s calibre is best enjoyed with a manual gearbox. In an era where manual transmission in performance cars is heading the ways of the dodo, it’s good to see Lotus retaining the good old stick shift, at least for now.
The Exige – basically the Elise on steroids – is currently in its third life cycle since its introduction back in 2000. Both coupe and roadster variants of the Exige Sport 350 will be available in Europe from February 2016 onwards. In Malaysia, the standard Exige S is also sold by Lotus Malaysia by order basis.