Lotus has unveiled the hottest looking Exige from the factory yet. The specialised sports-car maker has taken the already savage racetrack-ready 2008 Exige CUP, removed weight without compromising its legendary handling and 'driveability', whilst leaving the potent 260 HP Toyota supercharged engine well-enough alone for this release. This track-biased but road-registrable (in the EU) featherweight supercar will raise a few eyebrows with its amazing performance.
The 2008 Exige CUP weighed in at an already super-light 938kg, but with careful use of carbon fibre parts and other weight-optimisation changes, the 2009 Exige CUP now comes in at 900kgs straight.
For such a little racer, the reduction of 38kgs can make a huge difference. In the 0-100km/h dash, the 2009 Exige CUP now breaks into the sub-four second club, enjoying the company of some of the world's most expensive supercars like Ferraris, Lamborghini and the Bugatti Veyron.
True to Lotus' design core philosophy of 'performance through light weight', the weight-saving program looked at all areas of the car where components could be replaced with lighter versions, or where components could be removed completely without detracting from the purity of the driving experience. Such as:
- Carbon fibre usage in:
Roof Panel, FIA and HANS-compliant Driver and Passenger Seats, One piece Carbon Fibre Dash Top Panel, Rear Tailgate, Front Access Panels, Front Splitter, Side air intake ducts, Rear Spoiler
(total weight saving of 12kg)
- Lightweight components including:
Lightweight 'Motorsport' Battery
Ultra-light 12 Spoke Forged Alloy Wheels
Revised Rear Engine Subframe with lightweight Coating
Lightweight Fly Wheel
Lightweight composite bulkhead panel replaces rear window
Alloy Supercharger U bend pipes
(resulting in a further weight saving of 22kg)
- Removing non-essential components and equipment such as: the interior and boot carpets, front mud-flaps, battery cover, interior mirror, sunvisors, rear tailgate gas strut,
(a weight saving of 4.0kg)
The engine remains the same as the previous year's model - being the Toyota-based supercharged and intercooled four cylinder powerplant. Producing a maximum power output of 260 PS (257 hp) at 8000 rpm and a torque figure of 236 Nm (174 lbft) at 6000 rpm, it's a perfect marriage in the little Lotus rocketship.
Electronic aids such as Lotus variable traction control and Lotus Launch control continue in the 2009 model, along with the former aerodynamics package, giving 140kgs of downforce (keeping things stuck to the track or road when demanded).
Unfortunately for Australia, the 2007/2008 Lotus Exige CUP cars have never appeared here (other than for 'track-only' use). Lets hope Lotus Australia can form a plan to bring this amazing track-day warrior to our shores and into showrooms. There are many trackday regulars, including this TMR writer, who would love to put this little stormer to use.