All of the (mostly) fantastic cars developed by Lotus have names that inspire visions of excitement, speed and just a touch of terror, like Esprit, Elise and Exige (we’re not too sure about Evora, which could also be a brand of hand-cream for sensitive skin).
The latest model, however, is named the Lotus 3-Eleven. The successor to 2007’s equally oddly-named 2-Eleven track car, what it lacks for in name it more than makes up for in its stats. It’s the quickest production road car in Lotus’ history, for one thing. While the previous version was powered by a supercharged 1.8L engine, the latest edition boasts a supercharged 3.5l V6 block developing 450hp. 0-100km/h is achieved in a mere 3.0 seconds. We don’t have to tell you that’s seriously fast, with a power to weight ration of more than 500hp per tonne.
It’s quite the attractive looking car too, even if it seems like Lotus merely lopped the roof off an Exige and added a massive spoiler. There’s no doubt it looks like a thoroughbred track car, with larger air intakes on the bumper giving it a more aggressive stance, as does the new rear diffuser on the back, and the sharp side scallops. The rear in particular is a beautiful piece of work, with echoes of the Ferrari 458 Spider in the taillights.
The interior, such as it is, is unsurprisingly efficient and unladen. There’s an instrument cluster designed around a colour TFT screen (that can be switched between Road and Race modes), a quick release steering wheel, standard four-point harnesses and an optional passenger seat. The racetrack version will also come with a fire extinguisher and a battery kill switch – just in case.
The new addition to the Lotus stable will be available in two versions: Road and Race. Both feature a limited slip diff and oil cooler among other items, while Race adds an even more aggressive body kit, a sequential gearbox, paddle shifters as well as an FIA approved driver’s seat and a six point harness. The 3-Eleven will also be the most expensive production car from the Hethel-based company, with prices starting from £82,000 for the Road version, and an eye-watering £96,000 for the Race version (rising to £115,200 including VAT).
Even if you’ve got the deep pockets required for one of these rockets, you’ll have to wait a while – production on the 3-Eleven won’t begin until February 2015, with deliveries beginning in April 2016. The production run will also be limited to just 311 vehicles (you can probably guess why).
Despite the high prices, Lotus is confident that the 3-Eleven will be a success. “This new car is a giant slayer, capable of embarrassing far more expensive rivals,” said Jean-Marc Gales, the Lotus CEO. “It condenses our engineering know-how into one, hardcore package, and is so focused that it won’t suit everyone.”
Those are fighting words. Two, please.