Heralding a new generation of Lotus high performance sports cars, 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed saw the unveiling of the company's quickest and most expensive series production car ever, the Lotus 3-Eleven.
Designed as an uncompromised manifestation of the Lotus spirit, the new car is focused on providing an undiluted driving experience, and underlines the company's ability to deliver legendary handling and blistering speed.
Working on the concept of less is more, and keeping close to Lotus' track roots, the dramatic new vehicle features an all-new lightweight body, with an open cockpit design and a revised V6 supercharged engine developing 450 hp.
Two variations of the Lotus 3-Eleven will be available: Road and Race; both delivering an impressive combination of high performance, agility and precision. Based on the Road version, the Race includes a more aggressive aero kit, a sequential gearbox and an FIA approved driver's seat with a six-point harness.
With a dry weight of below 900 kg (Race version), the 3-Eleven offers an enviable power to weight ratio, in excess of 500 hp per tonne, and is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds before reaching a maximum speed of 174 mph (280 km/h) for the Race version and 180 mph (290 km/h) for the Road version
Speaking at Goodwood, Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer for Group Lotus plc, stated, "We always say that to make a sports car better, you make it faster and lighter. The new Lotus 3-Eleven carries that philosophy to a new level, and is perfectly in keeping with our brand values."
Jean-Marc Gales continued, "This new car is a giant slayer, capable of embarrassing far more expensive rivals. It condenses our engineering know-how into one, hard-core package, and is so focused that it won't suit everyone. This is a perfect demonstration of the faster and lighter concept, something which will be crucial to all Lotus cars in the future."
The new Lotus 3-Eleven will enter production in February 2016 and deliveries will commence in April 2016. Production will be limited to just 311 vehicles in total.
Prices start at Â£82,000 for the Road version (including VAT and on the road costs) and Â£96,000 excluding VAT for the Race version (Â£115,200 including VAT).
The 3-Eleven utilises a bespoke chassis based on the proven Lotus design of extruded and bonded aluminium sections. The Road roll-cage incorporates twin side bars for side impact protection, whilst the Race cage has additional bars to meet international requirements for motorsport.
The Lotus 3-Eleven's suspension features lightweight, double-wishbones front and rear, adjustable front anti-roll bar and Eibach springs with Ã–hlins adjustable dampers. This allows owners to fine tune the vehicle's handling characteristics.
The new Lotus 3-Eleven is powered by a revised version of the 3.5-litre V6 engine first shown in the Evora 400, which includes a supercharger with integrated water-to-air charge cooler. Maximum power output has increased to 450hp (456 PS / 336 kW) at 7000 rpm and torque has increased to 450 Nm / 332 lbs ft with maximum torque available from 3500 rpm through to 6500 rpm.
A close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with a Torsen-type limited slip differential, featuring a performance clutch assembly and oil cooler, come as standard on the Road version. The Race model has a 6-speed sequential transmission with a semi-dry sump, oil cooler, limited slip differential and paddle shift.
Brakes and Tyres
Designed to cope with the 3-Eleven's potential, lightweight forged Aluminium wheels are fitted as standard on the 3-Eleven, with either Michelin Pilot Super Sport or Michelin Cup 2 tyres depending on if it's in Road or Race configuration.
At the front 225/40 ZR18 tyres are standard, and to help transfer the 3-Eleven's considerable power and torque to the road, the rear tyres has been specified as 275/35 ZR19.
In order to deliver the stopping power required for such a quick car, AP Racing four-piston calipers are complemented by two-part grooved and vented brake discs (332 mm front and rear). Upgraded brake pads are fitted to the Race version.
Manufactured from very light weight composite materials, optimizing vehicle weight, aerodynamic and structural requirements, the 3-Eleven's composite body is 40% lighter than the GRP equivalent.
This new process is a first for a production car, and an example of Lotus' focus on utilising pioneering new technology and lightweight materials in its vehicles. The choice of material technology has allowed extreme vehicle performance targets to be met, and help realise the 3-Eleven's dynamic styling.
Undeniably a track car, the 3-Eleven's aggressive stance leaves no doubt of its intentions. The dramatically sculpted body perfectly balances the technical efficiency of a track car with the surface refinement of a road-going supercar. Form follows function, with a minimised cross sectional area that keeps drag to a minimum while optimising cooling.
As an extreme design evolution of Lotus predecessors, the Lotus 3-Eleven's new front clam shell incorporates larger openings to deliver the necessary cooling for the powertrain and transmission. This helps give the vehicle a much more aggressive stance.
Two front splitter configurations are available, depending on whether the vehicle is configured for road or race use, and the front arches are wide enough to cover the car's wide track and the new 225/40 ZR18 tyres.
Dramatic side scallops provide a clean exit from the front wheels arches, and the car's profile is dominated by an aerodynamically significant roll bar cover. The car is without a windscreen and doors, with the roll bar fully enclosing the rear cage. As well as generating downforce, the roll bar forms a vital part of the car's homologation to international motorsport safety standards.
The rear clamshell emphasises the aggressive stance of the car, with different fixed spoilers available, depending on whether the vehicle is specified for road or race use.
The new rear diffuser and under-tray, which has been developed to ensure minimum drag, complements an exhaust system designed specifically to minimize back pressure and enhance engine performance.
Fitted with the standard aeroscreen and the optional passenger seat, a passenger can be easily accommodated in the two seater. However, these can be removed and the optional tonneau panel fitted - to envelope the driver and improve overall aerodynamics.
The new instrument cluster has been designed around a colour TFT screen, and can be switched between road and track modes, providing relevant information direct to the driver.