Another harder, better, faster Lotus?
Based on last yeas revised Exige Sport 350, the Exige 380 has another 30bhp, race-spec aero and, somehow, a weight saving. That’s like making a superleggero F1 car. Or diet celery.
What’s actually new?
Perversely. it’s not just stripped: Lotus has added bargeboards, a bigger carbon wing, an Evora’s diffuser. twin conordand wider tyres. There ore lighter two-piece brakes, a lithium-ion buttery, a polycarbonate engine bay partition where there was once glass, carbon seats, plus an optional titanium exhaust. There’s lightness everywhere, but the extra aero bits add back 15kg when the car’s sat still. At vmax they add 140kg.
This is very much a track car then?
It’s actually freakishly comfortable. Sure, you feel a bump or pothole go under the wheels, but the steering is undistracted, traction unbroken. You just carry on getting stuck in.
Turns out it’s the new tyres: a wider, off-the-shelf Michelin Pilot Sport 2 on the 380. They’re ever so slightly less stiff in the (generous) sidewall than the old Pirellis, and together with the ultra-lightweight forged wheels and two-piece brakes doing favours for unsprung mass, add comfort to the Exiges superb damping.
OK, it’s better to “use”. But is it any better to “drive”?
Boy, does it stroll on. Take it on of your ego’s peril. It’s the most accelerative Lotus I’ve ever driven by some margin. The brakes are unassailably strong and perfectly modulated. It just feels so tough, the Exige. Like you could abuse it to the point of violence on a track day and you’d stagger into the pitlane exhausted before its temperature gauge woke up.
So is it a Terminator? Too focused for mere humans?
Nope. The unassisted steering is the king of feel almost to the point of hyperactivity. “Ooh look at this bend, look how much grip I have here…” The exposed gearshift is a tactile delight too.
3456cc supercharged V6 RWD, 375 bhp, 302 lb ft
28,2 mpg, 242 g/km CO2
0-62 mph in 3,5sec, 178 mph
Let this be a lesson to anyone who says modern cars are numb. Would mortify a Porsche fan and justifies £68k price.