The Lotus Exige Sport 410 is one extremely quick lightweight sports car.
Of course, a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 producing 306kW and 420Nm pushing a body that weighs just 1110kg is a pretty solid recipe for speed, but the numbers Hethel’s hardcore hero spat out might just surprise you.
Our sister mag Wheels had a go earlier this year, finding traction a little tricky to come by on Heathcote Raceway’s slippery unprepared dragstrip. Nonetheless, the Exige was still the fastest manual it had ever tested, clocking 0-100km/h in 3.9sec, 0-160km/h in 8.9sec and a 12.3sec quarter mile at 185.9km/h.
Our chosen test venue was Winton Raceway on an overcast but mercifully dry day. The 285mm-wide rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres need some heat in them but even so getting the Exige off the line cleanly is a delicate balancing act.
Its inherent traction is quite strong and too few revs leads to the engine bogging down heavily; conversely, there’s enough power on tap that too many revs just fries the tyres into a satisfying-but-slow smoke cloud.
Just over 3000rpm seems to be the sweet spot, the rear tyres over-rotating but still providing strong drive. It’s clearly quick, but the linear nature of the power delivery doesn’t blow you away. What does is the noise; when the tacho swings past 4000rpm the racket that emerges from the back of the Exige has few peers in the world of production cars.
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So, the numbers. Hitting 100km/h from rest takes just 3.72sec, 160km/h requires only 8.38sec and the quarter mile is completed in 11.82sec at 192.52km/h.
Lotus is disappointed in these numbers as the claim is 3.4sec, which might be possible with a perfect claim and flat-shifting the one-two change, as the shift is quite slow and costs a couple of tenths.
We’re still impressed, as the closest rival we could find in our archives was the Porsche 997.2 911 GT3 RS, which recorded 0-100km/h in 4.07sec and 0-400m in 12.07sec at 191.96km/h. Ok, so that car is almost a decade old, but it was also twice the price of the Lotus when new and our 2011 Performance Car of the Year.
The excellent flexibility of the Exige’s supercharged engine is evident in its 80-120km/h overtaking times, with the increment taking 2.5/3.3/4.6/5.3sec in third to sixth respectively. Braking is equally impressive, pulling up from 100km/h in just 32.48m.
To read a full road test of the Lotus Exige Sport 410, check out the latest issue of MOTOR Magazine.