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Lotus Exige Sport 380 in the driving report: 380 PS against 1,100 kilos

Lotus Cars
Lotus Exige Sport 380 in the driving report
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D Tuesday: Mercedes-AMG E 63 at the Race track in Portimao, Wednesday: Lotus Exige Sport 380 on the Lotus test track in Hethel - there is hardly a sequence of appointments that makes it easier to judge how important weight is in sports car construction. After the ride in the 1.9-ton power limousine, the next day, it's off to the latest lightweight construction purists from Lotus.

Changing made easy

Now it's not like that the AMG developers would have put down a sluggish ship with the E 63, but the timely switch to the Exige is similar to visiting another planet. With an empty weight of 1,100 kilograms, the Exige Sport 380 weighs around 800 kilograms less than the muscle limo from AMG.

Lotus Cars
Powerful: The well-known 3.5-liter supercharged V6 now delivers 380 hp.

Razor-sharp instead of compromising - the first time you turn in, the Lotus makes it clear to you immediately what really direct steering is and what tight steering forces mean. At sport auto , we like the fact that Lotus has shown its courage and continues to offer an unswerving antipole to the comfort mania in the sports car world.

Instead of electromechanical power steering, servo-free steering is still on the menu . The Lotus engineers trust the crisp old-school steering that the current Exige series has been wearing since its market launch in 2012. While the Exige Sport 380 warms up its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires in the bends with prominent names (“Senna Curves” or “Rindt Hairpin”), the most important changes remain for a moment.

Lotus Exige Sport 380 with Pirelli semislicks

The Exige is now wearingNo more Pirelli tires of the type P Zero Corsa or Trofeo as before, but rolls as standard on Michelin Cup tires. A later test will only be able to determine whether the dry grip level with the new sports tire is as high as it was with the radical Trofeo tire. In today's mixed conditions, with both dry and slightly damp sections of the route, the Michelin worked very well.

Lotus Cars
Loud: Hearty sound thanks to the exhaust system of the Evora 400

But the change of the tire partner was not the focus of the developers. As the name 'Sport 380' suggests, the well-known 3.5-liter V6 now produces 380 instead of the previous 350 hp. From 4000 tours, the compressor engine now pulls noticeably stronger. I still have the Exige test car in my head Single tests from sport auto 10/2013 got stuck. With 327.4 hp, it delivered significantly less on the dynamometer than the rated output of 350 hp.

Will the Exige reach the rated output this time?

Probably not an isolated case in the early days of this Exige series. As motivated as the Sport 380 is now thrashing the straights called “Fittipaldi Straight” or “Mansell Main Straight”, the times of underperformance seem subjectively to be a thing of the past. 'We made improvements, the cars now all have the specified performance,' promises Lotus boss Gales.

The six-speed gearbox, including the open shift gate, introduced with the Exige Sport 350 since the facelift, not only looks better , but can also be shifted much more precisely than the Exige gearbox at the beginning of the market launch of the third Exige generation.

The 380 model not only works and shifts better, but now also sounds even more aggressive. From now on, the Exige has the flap exhaust system as standard, which is also installed in the Evora 400 and 410. Our current test car is even equipped with the optional titanium exhaust system, which not only trumpets heartfelt, but also saves 9.2 kilograms compared to the standard exhaust systemshould.

Lotus Cars
Sexy: Switching with an open backdrop.

Lotus Exige Sport 380 now with a larger one Tank

'Weight is the enemy,' says Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales later with a smile. Numerous carbon parts (front splitter, front air outlet trim, rear wing, rear diffuser, bucket seats, optional roof panel, tailgate), a polycarbonate rear window, lighter forged wheels, a lithium-ion battery and the aforementioned titanium exhaust system reduce the vehicle weight by a total of 30.2 kilograms. With an additional transmission oil cooler, a larger tank (48 liters instead of the previous 40 liters) and the increase in aerodynamic parts, the Exige also has a weight increase of around 15 kilograms. The total weight saving amounts to around 15 kilos.

Given the mixed conditions and cool outside temperatures, it is difficult to make a reasonable statement about the chassis. Sure, the Exige steers in directly, but whether and how much more direct than the basic model cannot be reliably said today. First impression: While the Exige is quite suitable for everyday use on the public road with good straight-line stability, the camber and toe values ​​could be made even more aggressive for the race track excursion. And for everyone who feels the same way, Lotus now has an optional track package with two-way adjustable Nitron dampers and adjustable Eibach stabilizers in its range. For more grip on the front axle, the slightly slim front axle tires have also been increased from 205 to 215.

Nordschleife invitation already accepted

Not only weight was saved and the chassis improved: During the facelift model Exige Sport 350 should have a total downforce of 88 kg at top speed, Lotus puts the total downforce of the Exige Sport 380 at Vmax at 140 kg. So it's high time for the next visit to the Nordschleife and a comprehensive super test with the Exige. Lotus has already accepted the invitation.

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