The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is the most extreme Exige yet. And that's quite a feat for what started as a lightweight sports car that has only gotten lighter and sharper. It has more power, less weight, and more downforce.
It starts with a big boost for the 3.5L V6. The new Edelbrock supercharger and intercooler boost power by 55 hp, to 430. The big V6 makes 325 lb-ft of torque over a broad range, starting at 4,000 rpm. The engine will rev to 7,000 rpm thanks to a new intake and bigger throttle body. The close-ratio six-speed manual uses Lotus' exquisite open gate shifter that lets you see every piece of the linkage in motion. Joining the engine and gearbox is an uprated larger clutch.
The Cup 430 gets a new ultra-lightweight front clamshell body with carbon fibre ducting. The openings are wider to allow more airflow, and the new grille looks meaner and gives room for a new front splitter to reduce drag. The rear clamshell has a bigger wing that Lotus says increases downforce without increasing drag. The aerodynamic changes mean that the Exige Cup 430 produces 220 kg of downforce for increased grip and stability.
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The new front and rear panels trim 6.8 kg, but aren't the only weight savings. The roll bar is made from stronger but lighter steel, there is a lithium-ion battery, even the seatbelt mechanism is redesigned to save weight. The titanium exhaust flows more air, gives the 430 a distinct sound, and trims 10 kg. All-in, the changes trim 29 kg off the car. The new intercooler, clutch, and bigger brakes claw back some of that, but the car is still a flyweight 1,059 kg dry. That's 66 kg lighter than the base Exige Sport 350.
The suspension uses three-way adjustable dampers to fine tune handling. There is revised steering arm geometry to increase bump steer, and even the sway bars are adjustable. The 215 wide front tires and massive 285-width rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber keep the power in check.
Adjustable traction control gives five levels of allowable rear wheel slip, plus "off" for tail-out driving.
After the additions and subtractions, the Exige Cup 430 equals massive performance. The 0-100 km/h time is just 3.3 seconds, with a top speed of 290 km/h. It's the fastest production car to ever lap Lotus' Hethel test track. The 1 minute, 24.8 second time is 1.2 seconds faster than the next-best 3-Eleven road version.