Australia is set to receive the all new Lotus Exige Sport 350 in the middle of 2016. Lotus says the ‘ultimate incarnation’ of the Exige, the Sport 350, is lighter and faster than ever before.

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As we’ve come to expect from the British manufacturer, the engineers at Lotus focused heavily on making sure the Exige Sport 350 was as light as possible. Every part was weighed and evaluated in an effort to save kilos, resulting in a wide variety of changes.

As an insight into this fastidiousness, an optimised use of sound insulation was implemented, along with lighter HVAC pipework, an exposed gearshift mechanism, lightweight engine mounts and a louvered tailgate. The car achieves a weight of just 1125kg, 51kg lighter than the previous Exige S. That translates to over 257kW per 1000kg.

“The Lotus Exige is already regarded as one of the world’s best sports cars and a benchmark for performance and handling both on road and on track,”  said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc. “With the Exige Sport 350 we took an already phenomenally quick car and made it even faster, more dynamic and more pure, perfectly demonstrating our Lotus design philosophy of ‘lighter and faster,” he added.

Behind the driver is a mid-mounted 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine that generates 258kW of power and 400Nm of torque. Thanks to the car’s lower mass and aerodynamically-efficient composite bodywork, the Lotus Exige Sport 350 is capable of reaching a top speed of 274km/h and can sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.9sec.

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Faster and more precise shifting will be possible due to a heavily revised manual gearbox. Cast aluminium gearshift components help reduce weight and add to the aesthetic of the car’s interior. A six-speed automatic transmission will also be available. The automatic variant will accelerate to 100km/h 0.1sec faster than the manual.

A control panel can be found on the centre console with buttons for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. Paddles can be found behind the steering wheel if the driver wants to shift manually. Gear changes are fast, taking just 240ms to up-shift. When Sport mode is engaged, the car’s automatic throttle-blip feature will further aid in shifting, especially back down through the ‘box.

In an effort to decrease the engine bay temperature and lower the centre of gravity, a newly designed louvered tailgate will be featured. A similar tailgate was first introduced on the Lotus Esprit Turbo in 1980.

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Revised suspension tuning, wheel geometry and aerodynamic styling is said to produce sharp vehicle dynamics and ‘finely balanced’ handling.

Lotus claims that due to the handling advancements, and the car’s upgraded four-piston brake calipers, the Exige Sport 350 was able to complete a lap of the Hethel track (Lotus’ test facility) in 1min 29sec. That is 2.5sec faster than the previous Exige S, and the fastest-ever time set by a production Lotus.

“Light weight is the most important aspect of our heritage and future Lotus cars will follow the direction of our most recently launched models, the Evora 400, Elise Sport and of course our latest Exige Sport 350, all of which are both lighter and faster than their predecessors,” said Gales. “Over the last 15 years, successive versions of the Lotus Exige have beaten more expensive sports car rivals in media comparison tests and I expect the Exige Sport 350 to continue this. The best has just got better!”

‘DPM’ or Lotus Dynamic Performance Management allows for three driving modes. These include ‘Drive’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’. Each mode offers progressively increased levels of traction slip threshold. The car has a valved exhaust, to allow for a louder tone at higher revs.

The Sport 350 continues to take design cues from its ancestors with the option of red or yellow Tartan seats and door panels. The tartan theme was first introduced in 1976 in the Lotus Esprit S1.

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The Exige Sport 350’s front splitter, rear wing, various body panels and wing mirrors come standard in matte black but can be painted to match the car’s body colour at no cost.

Australian-spec standard and optional features will be released closer to the local release, but the European option list is as follows: Lightweight forged alloy wheels, cross-drilled and vented two-piece brake discs, black or yellow painted four-piston callipers, air conditioning, an in-car entertainment system and full carpet and sound insulation pack. If made available in Australia, the lightweight wheel and brake options will drop the car’s total weight to 1115kg.

A Roadster variant of the 2016 Lotus Exige Sport 350 will arrive sometime after the coupe’s release in the winter of this year. Pricing and specifications will be available closer to said release.

They say a picture can speak a thousand words, but this video from Lotus may help put into perspective what the Exige Sport 350 is all about.

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