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Lotus launches 55,900 Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.

Lotus launches 55,900 Exige Sport 350
Exige Sport 350 is quickest production model yet round Lotus' Hethel test track.
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2016-03-04: Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster is super-light

What's all this about?

Cast your minds back, oooh, way back, to the dim and misty past of... er, November, and you might recall us telling you Lotus was reviving its 'Sport' badge - last seen on the 1999 Lotus Esprit Sport 350 - for a couple of new variants of the Elise. Well, it seems the Sports are due to keep on coming, as here's another one. And it has a nameplate that's very close to that glorious old Esprit: this is the Exige Sport 350.

Does that mean an end of the Exige S?

It does indeed. The Sport 350 uses the same 3.5-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine, though delivering healthy numbers of 350hp (hence the name) at 7,000rpm and 400Nm of torque at 4,500rpm. Expect 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and a 170mph top speed. That's with the standard fit manual gearbox, which - in a beautiful decision by Lotus - has all its cast aluminium inner linkage workings on display in the cabin. We like. A lot. There is, however, a six-speed automatic with paddle shifts and it does alter the performance and green stats slightly.

In what way?

The auto is slower outright, with a 162mph maximum speed, but thanks to optimised gear changes and 240-millisecond upshifts, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, a little quicker than the manual. It's also more efficient, at 30.1mpg compared to the manual's 28mpg, with CO2 emissions of 219g/km versus 235g/km for the manual.

How else has Lotus improved the Exige S?

A full 51kg has been stripped off the kerb weight of the S, leaving the Sport 350 at 1,125kg as a manual (1,130kg auto). Lightweight forged alloy wheels and cross drilled and vented two-piece brake discs save 5kg each, reducing the Sport to 1,115kg. That's thanks to a diet that brings in a louvered tailgate panel, a lighter battery, lightweight engine mounts, a lightweight centre console, lighter HVAC pipework and the 'optimised use' of sound insulation. It's light, then. And there's downforce too.

What sort of numbers are we looking at here?

With a full aerodynamic kit, the Lotus generates 42kg of downforce at 100mph. The louvered tailgate both lowers the Sport 350's centre of gravity and also improves engine bay cooling, while the Norfolk company has beefed up the Exige's dampers, revised its suspension geometry and fitted four-pot brake callipers (which can be painted yellow or black, if you'd like). All of the above ensures the Sport 350 is the first production Lotus to dip beneath the 1 minute 30 seconds lap-time barrier of the Hethel test track, the ultimate Exige clocking 1:28.9. That's 2.5 seconds quicker than the old S, too.

Are there any other options and upgrades?

Outside, parts of the body are painted matte black, specifically the front splitter, rear wing, front access panel, roof panel, wing mirrors and rear transom. For no cost, they can be painted in the body colour of the car. Inside, in an interior that comes with yellow or red tartan as standard, you can have leather or Alcantara upholstery, as well as having the ability to add in some weighty toys like air conditioning, an in-car entertainment system, full carpeting and a sound insulation pack. So don't. Lotus also says it has improved the haptics and ergonomics of the interior switchgear.

When can I order one?

Lotus will punt the Exige Sport 350 onto the market in February 2016 for a starting price of 55,900. A Roadster model will follow in March and you can find out more by going to

Matt Robinson - 9 Dec 2015

2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350. Image by Lotus.    - Lotus road tests
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