Lotus, the British sports car manufacturer that's more commonly known for its on-track endeavours, will take to the hills of Southern Europe next year in its first fully factory-built rally car - the Exige R-GT.
Based on a regular Exige S chassis, the R-GT ditches the road-going car's 1.8 litre supercharged inline four and replaces it with a 3.5 litre supercharged V6.
It also features a racing-specification roll cage, a sequential manual transmission and an interior that's sparse even by Lotus standards.
Shakedown testing has already commenced in Northern Italy, with Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro pleased with the progress of the car - which only started development six months ago.
"When you consider that we've only began working on this car in July, I think what we've achieved in that time has been incredible," Mr Berro said.
"For me the Exige S makes the perfect GT rally car, it has an awesome 3.5-litre, supercharged engine, and we've managed to balance the weight perfectly to meet the minimum weight regulations.
"The shakedown... has only made us even more excited to show off the car in true race form early next year – I think we're doing the Lotus motorsport pedigree proud."
The Exige R-GT will compete in the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship, and compete in the FIA GT category at Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse and Rallye San Remo.
Don't expect to see it getting sideways on some gravel-strewn forest track though - for now, the Exige R-GT will compete in tarmac rallies only.
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