450bhp flyweight is Hethel’s fastest, most powerful road car ever
Take the 2-Eleven, make it faster and hey presto, the 3-Eleven is created
Seven minutes and 10 seconds. If that’s the answer, you can guess the question, because you are the sort of person who watches every fraction of your car’s speed on a track. Especially a certain hilly, lengthy, treacherous German one. And that’s the number Lotus is claiming, admittedly so far via its spookily accurate simulation software rather than an actual test, of the pre-limit Nürburgring Nordschleife.
There’s also a fractionally heavier, fractionally slower road version – it’s the fastest road Lotus ever. Like the 2007 2-Eleven, the 3-Eleven is a stripped-out, ultralight, barely-legal bathtub on wheels that nibbles at the very extremities of what any normal person would defne as a ‘car’.
Both ‘road’ (but still trackable) and full-track versions have a louder 450bhp version of the Lotus-Toyota supercharged 3.5-litre V6. The two versions sit either side of 900kg. This means Veyron-troubling power-to-weight ratios and absolutely premier-league performance including 0–60 in “under 3.0secs”. It’s a manual ’box on the road car, sequential on the track one.
The bare-bones but savagely beautiful body is shared by both. You can just see the care that’s gone into aerodynamics for cooling and anti-lift. Look at the venting behind the front wheels, the aero-shaping of the roll-bar cover, and the way the side scallops feed into the engine air intakes. The track is wider than the Exige’s thanks to longer front wishbones. The structure is also stifer than the Lotus cars that have actual doors, because there are fxed bars in the sides. The racecar also has an FIA-compliant cage.
To cover it all, the skin is made of a new type of lightweight injection-moulded glass-fbre composite, some 40 per cent lighter than conventional GRP. Both versions have a big, adjustable rear wing, but it’s even more aggressive in the race version, meaning a startling downforce number of 215kg at 150mph.
Prices start at £82,000; the track variant is £115,000. Big money for a Lotus, but it’s a trusted name for driving machines: the frst three months’ production was sold out on the morning it was unveiled. Total production is limited to 311 cars. Geddit?
The 3-Eleven: the ultimate bathtub on wheels? Discuss
450bhp accessed via an unassuming steering wheel