LOTUS IS synonymous with small fast sports cars, but at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British company pulled the dustsheets off a car to top the lot – the new 3-Eleven.
Its fastest, most expensive model to date, the 3-Eleven is aimed at speed-freaks who want a taste of the performance of a Ferrari LaFerrari or McLaren P1 hypercar without the monstrous bills.
The 3-Eleven is powered by a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine – as used in the Lotus Evora 400 – but tuned to produce 450bhp. The company claims that the lightest version of the car weighs under 900kg, giving it staggering performance, with 0-60mph said to take under 3.0 seconds.
Two versions will be offered, called Road and Race, priced at £82,000 and £115,200 respectively, and production will be limited to 311 cars, with sales starting in April. Despite the searing performance, fireproof driving gloves and pants are not included.
Both are built around a version of Lotus’ bonded and riveted aluminium chassis, which has been strengthened to cope with the car’s performance. The engine is mounted transversely, behind the driver, and drives the rear wheels.
The 180mph Road model comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, limited slip differential, a sports seat with four-point harness and the choice of either having a passenger seat or a fairing that covers the vacant space.
The 174mph Race edition of the 3-Eleven has a six-speed sequential gearbox with shortened gear ratios, an FIA-approved roll cage and racing seat and harness set, and subtly different bodywork that is said to generate over 200kg of downforce at 150mph.
All versions feature independent suspension, Ohlins dampers and adjustable anti-roll bars, and the Road 3-Eleven comes with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Pick the Race 3-Eleven and the tyres are switched for Michelin Cup 2.
Jean-Marc Gales, Lotus’ chief executive, called the 3-Eleven “a giant slayer, capable of embarrassing far more expensive rivals.”
However, the true measure of the 3-Eleven will be to see how it handles itself against cars like the Caterham Seven 620R, Ariel Atom 3.5R – both considerably more affordable – as well as the more expensive Radical RXC Turbo.