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Cup 380 is ultimate road-going Lotus Exige. Image by Lotus.

Cup 380 is ultimate road-going Lotus Exige
Lotus Exige Cup 380 is unbeatable on road and on track, says CEO Jean-Marc Gales.
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What's all this about?

If you think a Lotus Exige S isnít hard enough, you can have a Lotus Exige Sport 350. Still want something more hardcore? Try the Sport 380. Oh, still not enough? Then how about this - itís the Exige Cup 380 and itís the companyís fastest road-legal, competition-ready machine yet.

Hold on - road-legal, and competition-ready?

Yes. Lotusí CEO Jean-Marc Gales says: ďDeveloping the Cup 380 has allowed us to indulge our motorsport ambitions on a car that can be used and enjoyed every single day. This is an Exige thatís not just unbeatable point-to-point but also capable of winning highly competitive races. The biggest surprise for many is that itís fully road legal - a considerable achievement considering the carís performance capabilities. Unlike some rivalsí cars, this is something that really can drive to a track, set the fastest lap and take the win, before heading home. Itís supremely usable, yet outrageously fast.Ē

Sounds promising. So what does it take to make a Cup 380?

First of all, you need an Exige Coupe, as the Roadster isnít viable for this treatment. Louvres in the front of the car equalise the pressure differential in the wheel arches, while cut-outs aft of the back wheels work in conjunction with the aero blades either side of the rear diffuser. It wears the front canards of the Sport 380, plus a load of bespoke high-gloss, handmade carbon aero elements - in the form of the front splitter, front access panel, bargeboards, the roof, the diffuser surround, larger-aperture air-intake side pods, a fresh one-piece tailgate and that unmissable motorsport-derived rear wing. All told, this little lot generates 200kg of downforce at 175mph, the Exigeís top speed, compared to 140kg at 178mph on the Sport 380.

Sooo... the Cup is slower than the Sport?

Only flat out, thanks to the additional drag of the aero and its close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. It is quicker from 0-62mph, though, clocking in at 3.6 seconds compared to 3.7 seconds for the Sport 380, thanks to the supercharged 3.5-litre V6 running in the 380hp/410Nm state of tune. The Cup is also faster around Lotusí Hethel test track, by about 1.3 seconds, clocking in with a 1m 26secs time. Thatís thanks to the downforce, the fact it is 9kg lighter than a Sport at 1,057kg dry weight (made up of a 6.5kg saving for the one-piece tailgate, 1kg for the removal of gas struts and 0.5kg for the carbon side pods) and also because it wears bigger rear tyres to maximise grip - theyíre 285/30 ZR18s on the Cup 380, whereas the Sport 380 runs 265/35 ZR18s. Front rubber is unchanged from Sport to Cup at 215/45 ZR17 and the tyres are Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 items all round.

What about the suspension, brakes and so on?

Nitron two-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front/rear anti-roll bars form the suspension and the brakes are AP Racing forged, four-piston callipers gripping grooved two-piece discs, while the ESP has four modes - Drive, Sport, Race and Off - and the variable traction control system can be switched through one of five settings to allow different, pre-set amounts of wheel-slip (between one and 12 per cent), or turned off completely for those with large spuds. Tick the box for the optional full titanium exhaust system and another 10kg of weight, all behind the rear axle, is stripped out of the Cup.

What about interior and exterior detailing?

There's an Alcantara steering wheel, Alcantara-clad carbon fibre seats (leather or tartan an option), a T45 steel rollover bar and revised instrument cluster graphics, plus lots of exposed carbon weave on the seats and 10mm-lower sills. More carbon is optionally available for the door cards, HVAC console and air-vent surrounds, which'll take another kilo off the weight, but then there are some serious motorsport options; such as an FIA-compliant rollcage, a full racing harness, an electrical cut-off switch, fire extinguisher controls, airbag deletion and a non-airbag steering wheel, plus a front towing eye and rear fabric tow strap on the Lotus' exterior. Outside, you can have the Exige in one of five hand-finished colours (Essex Blue, Metallic White, Metallic Silver, Metallic Grey or Metallic Black), while the Cup 380 wears a bespoke red highlight on its front access panel. Wheels, spoiler uprights and mirror caps can be finished in red, silver or black in contrast to the main paint colour, while the whole car wears 'Cup 380' badging.

And the killer question - how many will be made and how much will they cost each?

Just 60 Exige Cup 380s are confirmed for production, at a cost of £83,000 apiece; considerably more than the £67,900 a Sport 380 would set you back. However, that limited build run makes this one of Lotus' most collectible cars, so the Exige Cup 380 should find plenty of willing buyers.

Matt Robinson - 21 Apr 2017

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