We won’t even pretend to think that Lotus won’t tweak, snip or otherwise improve upon the 2010 Exige Cup 260. Each time we conclude they have taken the current model of their street-legal race car to the highest levels of performance, (and minimalism), they come back with another slightly improved version that tops the last. But nevertheless, even knowing that an even better Exige will surely be forthcoming, at least right now, the 2010 Exige Cup 260 is the best Lotus ever.
Like its predecessor, the design of the Exige Cup 260 is led in both performance and style from the Lotus Exige GT3 race car. The consequence of being motivated to copy this machine as closely as possible means that the Exige Cup 260 receives subtle, but measurable improvements in a wide array of areas, including a little more power, a 30 percent stiffer rear chassis, more carbon fiber in the bodywork, impossibly light alloy wheels, a new and improved aerodynamic package and the adherence to the goal of stripping weight out whenever feasible. This involved replacing most of the aluminum body panels with carbon fiber and removing such extraneous pieces like the carpets, mud flaps, battery cover, rear view mirror and sun visors.
Lotus proudly proclaims the new model “one of the most exhilarating, focused and pure sports cars on the road today,” and it would be hard to argue against them. The 257 horsepower supercharged and intercooled Toyota-derived engine in the Exige Cup 260 reaches maximum power output at 8000 rpm, which as you can imagine, is an insane amount for a car that weighs only 1958 lbs, 84 less than a standard Exige S. Not only is the top speed of this glorified go-cart 150 mph, but it reaches 60 mph in only 4.1 seconds. Of course, you would want to confirm these numbers for yourself, which makes the available launch control option a must have.
The exterior of the Exige 260 has a number of extroverted cues that indicate its capabilities. The oversized roof scoop feeds air into the intercooler and the rear wing and front spoiler were given meticulous attention over the previous model to increase down-force and stability at high speed. Because the Exige 260 is catering to the weekend racer crowd, the car comes with two-way adjustable dampers in the suspension system that allow for a custom setup for the driver. Similarly, other nods to its track abilities include a smaller flywheel, a light weight race battery, a heavy duty sports clutch that is mated to a C64 six-speed gearbox, the aforementioned launch control, FIA compliant seats, a roll cage and a torque sensing limited slip differential. Stopping power comes from huge 12.1-inch front and 11.1-inch rear cross-drilled and ventilated brake discs with AP Racing and Brembo calipers.
There is not a definite timeline for the vehicle in North America, though it will certainly arrive at some point. Prices are expected to be in the $80,000 range.