The new limited edition Lotus Exige Cup 380 promises to be the closest a keen driver can get to driving a real race car on public roads.
Lotus is going through a phase of taking its standard Elise and Exige models and making them even lighter and into vicious track cars for well-heeled gentleman racers. But what separates this particular hardcore Lotus from the company's other recent track-focused models is that the Cup 380 is somehow road legal.
"This is something that really can drive to a track, set the fastest lap and take the win, before heading home. It's supremely usable, yet outrageously fast," said company CEO Jean-Marc Gales.
How fast? It can cover the 0-100km/h dash in 3.6 seconds and will comfortably hit 175mph (280 km/h) before all of the 3.5-liter supercharged V6 engine's 375hp and 410Nm of torque are spent. Considering this car will cost over €100,000 when it goes on sale, those figures don't sound that impressive -- any two-wheel drive Porsche 911 costs less, is packed full of cossetting creature comforts, and has a higher top speed.
But the Lotus's trump card is usability. Not in the sense of practicality -- this is not the car for doing the weekly grocery shop -- but in terms of being able to use more of the car's output more of the time. This is thanks to the obsessive attention to wind tunnel detailing and the amount of downforce the body's aerodynamics package can develop -- 200kg at top speed.
That means the car could potentially take a bend at 175mph and not lose traction. And because it is a genuine track car as well as a road car, it comes with adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, adjustable damping, Cup tires as standard, plus a T45 steel rollover bar and towing hooks, meaning it can be legally entered into a race.
If you're looking for that level of race readiness in your next daily driver, then the Exige starts to represent value for money. Then factor in its exclusivity -- just 60 examples, worldwide, and the car could turn out to be a good investment, rather than simply a good buy.
"Developing the Cup 380 has allowed us to indulge our motorsport ambitions on a car that can be used and enjoyed every single day," said Gales. "This is an Exige that's not just unbeatable point-to-point but also capable of winning highly competitive races."