The latest version of the Lotus Exige Cup 260 has been revealed, boasting a stiffer chassis, lower weight and a new launch and traction control system.
The most extreme Exige shaves 12kgs from the weight of the Exige S with extensive use of carbon in the roof panel, FIA/HANS-compliant seats, tailgate, centre tunnel, front splitter, side air intake ducts and a rear spoiler.
Use of lightweight components saves another 22kgs, says Lotus, listing a lightweight motorsport battery, ultralight racing wheels (thought to be the lightest 'OE' wheels in the world at 5.65kgs front, and 7.75kgs rear), a lightweight flywheel, a composite bulkhead panel to replace the rear window and alloy supercharger U-bend pipes.
Removing other non-essential components and equipment such as the interior and boot carpets, front mudflaps, battery cover, interior mirror, sun visors, rear tailgate gas strut, results in a further weight saving of 4kg, the company claims.
In total, the weight reduction measures bring the Exige Cup 260 in at 890kgs, giving it a lively power to weight ratio of 288hp per tonne thanks to its 257hp supercharged Toyota engine. Lotus says the car will reach 60mph in 4 seconds, 100mph in 9.9 seconds and a maximum of 152mph.
Handling has also been upgraded thanks to a new rear diffuser evolution that improves lateral stiffness in the rear sub-frame by 30 per cent, and the adoption of Ohlins two-way adjustable dampers.
Although Lotus sells Exige Cup models for road use, the car's primary focus has always been the track, where the new launch and traction control system should come into its own. Launch control allows you to dial up the required revs then sidestep the clutch for quick getaways, while the traction control can be adjusted on the move to provide anything from an 'optimised' seven per cent tyre slip, to being dialled out altogether. A message display in the new instrument pack tells you what setting you are driving on.
Like Nissan, which was roundly criticised for offering a launch control system on the GT-R that voided the warranty if used, Lotus is taking a similar path, saying: "If the launch control facility is utilised, the warranty on related powertrain components is void."
You can spot the new Exige Cup 260 by its restyled front end with larger intakes, and new rear wing from the Exige GT road car concept shown at Geneva is 2007. It's priced at £45,000 plus £950 on-the-road charges.