The latest fire-breathing road-legal racing car to roll out of Lotus's tiny production facility, the Exige Cup 430: Unlimited Edition, offers extreme levels of acceleration, grip and handling, but best of all, it's set to be a standard, full-production model rather than a limited-run special edition.
Clearly the recent news that Chinese automotive giant Geely is readying itself to acquire Lotus has filled the boutique British sportscar brand with a renewed confidence and daring. And the Exige Cup 430 is a case in point.
At first glance, it looks like any other Exige, but strip away its carbon fiber panels and you'll find a totally new engine installation complete with a new supercharger, courtesy of Edelbrock, plus a charge cooler, both developed specifically for the car. With the supercharger blowing at full speed it imbues the 3.5-litre V6 engine with 430hp, 440Nm of torque, a 0-100km/h time of just 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 180mph.
Lotus has ditched everything it possibly can from the car in order to boost its power-to-weight ratio and handling prowess, meaning that everything that remains is absolutely crucial in ensuring it still qualifies as a road-legal vehicle, albeit one capable of generating 220kg of downforce evenly split across front and rear axles. It would take a freak weather system to make this car come unstuck on the road.
"This is the car that we have always wanted to build, and I am sure that all Lotus enthusiasts will be delighted with the end product," said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc. "This car has no rivals -- inside or outside of its price bracket -- and it's no exaggeration when we say that nothing can keep up with this Exige on the road or track."
Indeed, its Hethal lap time is a remarkable one minute, 28.4 seconds, making it the fastest road-legal Lotus ever to lap its test track.
But make no mistake, though this car can be driven on the road, its natural habitat will be race days and competitions. Its traction control system can be altered by percentages or shut down completely, its suspension comes with adjustable anti-roll bars and the damping system comes with 24 adjustment settings so that the car can be set up perfectly for any type of track or to suit a specific owner's driving style.
Thankfully, among the car's standard features are a roll cage, harness-style seatbelts and fixed towing hooks front and rear for those moments when exuberance takes over and the car leaves the track.
However, things like carpeting, floor mats, air conditioning, cruise control, sound insulation and a stereo can only be found on the options list.
Nevertheless, the car promises to be phenomenal around the track and, if you can get the right setup, great for shorter journeys on the road, or from one race to the next.
Prices will start at £99,800 in the UK and €127,500 in Europe, depending on the individual country's Value Added Tax system.