Lotus puts its most powerful engine into a lighter Exige

430bhp? In an aero-hungry Exige? That’ll be the new ‘Cup’. Yowser

Lotus Exige Cup 430 3

Here’s the latest mix’n’match from the Lotus toybox. The idea: extract the 424bhp (430PS) supercharged V6 from the ultimate Evora, the GT430, and apply it vigorously to the smaller, lighter, more track-happy Exige. Lavish with literally a quarter-tonne more downforce, and the result is this, the new Lotus Exige Cup 430. And it’s a hundred thousand pounds. So, we’d better get tucked into that spec, quickly. Before Lotus thinks of another special edition.

Hethel claims the charge-cooled, 3.5-litre, 441Nm engine is capable of punting the little Exige from 0-100kph in 3.3 seconds, which is fairly crackers for a machine with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. A sublime, open-gate manual, at that.

Lotus Exige Cup 430 5

It’s helped on its merry way with a 12kg weight saving – once all the lightweight carbon fibre option boxes are ticked. Done that? Good. Now, your Exige weighs in at 1,056kg. Pretty incredible for a car cradling a Toyota-developed V6 lump once destined for your grandpa’s Camry.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot more downforce, a lot more of the time. The old Exige Cup 380, which this car replaces, generated 200kg of downforce at 282kph. The Cup 430, thanks to its wider front splitter, wheelarch cutouts, and taller rear wing, is said to be developing 100kg of aerodynamic grip at 160kph. So you won’t need that cheeky confidence-lift through a fourth-gear corner on your next track day. Feeling brave?

Lotus Exige Cup 430 1

Maximum downforce is 220kg (should Lotus’ new slogan be Complicate And Add Aero?), and the top speed is up nominally to 290kph. As a result, the Exige Cup 430 is this week’s Fastest Lotus Ever around the Hethel test track, after its 1min 24.8sec effort walloped the road-spec 3-Eleven lightweight by 1.2 seconds. That’s mad. The 3-Eleven doesn’t even have a roof.

Other tweaks under the Exige’s fibreglass and carbon worth knowing about include a beefier clutch, a steel roll bar, a (10kg lighter) titanium exhaust and the no-cost option of tartan seats instead of business-like Alcantara. Think about that. You could have one of these and a Golf GTI, for the ideal two-car chequered-seat garage. Is it too early to submit a Christmas list?

Lotus Exige Cup 430 7

Bad news if you live outside of the UK, Italy, Germany or France: you can’t buy an Exige Cup 430. What’s that? You dwell in Western Europe and you’re a fan of massively overspecified engines in flyweight cars? Well, step right up! Just be sure to bring the necessary £99,800 with you…

Author: TopGear
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