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Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster is super-light. Image by Lotus.

Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster is super-light
Lotus trims another 40kg out of the Exige Sport 350 for new open-top Roadster
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What's all this about?

Lotus took a quartet of its sports cars to the Geneva Motor Show and proudly announced that they represented the company's 'quickest ever' line-up of models. We already knew about the 3-Eleven, the Evora Sport 410 and the Elise Sport 250, but sitting among them was a newcomer - the Exige Sport 350 Roadster.

Hold on, you told us about this car late last year, didn't you?

Ah, the key thing here is the 'Roadster' bit of its name. We did indeed tell you of the Exige Sport 350 at the tail-end of 2015, but that was the hard-top model; this is the convertible sibling getting the same treatment. Aside from wind in the hair motoring and the chance to better hear that Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 singing away, there's one good reason you should choose the Roadster over the Coupe.

And what reason would that be?

The fact it is actually lighter than the tin-top, by 40kg. With a lithium-ion battery, featherweight forged alloy wheels, cross-drilled and vented two-piece brake discs, less weighty engine mounts and a generous helping of carbon fibre (for the louvered tailgate, side air intakes, seats and the composite front access panel), the Exige Sport 350 Roadster clocks in at 1,085kg, making it the lightest configuration of Exige of the lot.

Is there anything else about its weight-loss you can add?

Well, the car shown in Geneva featured a full Carbon Aero Pack, comprising a front splitter, rear wing and rear diffuser. And Jean-Marc Gales, the CEO of Lotus, added: "We achieved so much when developing the Exige Sport 350, reducing weight and making it even sharper and tightly focused; and the Exige Sport 350 Roadster takes this yet further. Yet again we've been able to slash weight to produce something that should be on every sports car fan's wish list."

So does all this translate into the quickest Lotus yet?

Yes, and no. It's more accelerative than the tin-top, clocking a 3.8-second 0-62mph time, but it loses quite a lot of top speed; Lotus quotes 'only' 150mph, whereas the manual Exige Sport 350 Coupe does 170mph and the auto equivalent 162mph. Lotus also won't expand on the Roadster's time around its test track in Hethel. Power goes to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, but a paddleshift-equipped six-speed auto will be an option.

Can I opt for tartan inside?

You can, if you must. Red or yellow checked trim is available as a heritage touch, although the optional leather or Alcantara upholstery for the slim carbon sports seats inside might be the more tasteful choice.

Matt Robinson - 4 Mar 2016

Earlier articles featuring 2016 Lotus Exige

2015-12-09: Lotus launches 55,900 Exige Sport 350

Lotus Exige 350 Roadster. Image by Lotus.Lotus Exige 350 Roadster. Image by Lotus.      - Lotus road tests
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