With every new revision from Lotus, the limit to how much performance can be squeezed from the Elise/Exige models is further pushed. The Exige GT3 is based on the European race car that competed in the FIA GT3 category, fitted with extreme aerodynamic aids and has an even more highly tuned 1.8-litre engine. This is the world’s fastest Lotus.
Both the Elise and Exige are considered by many, including me, to be the best pure sports cars available. Especially when you factor in that they cost much less compared to cars with similar performance. Further adding to the resurgent race cred of the British automaker is the GT3 that was developed by Lotus Sport UK following its victory in the 2006 British GT3 Manufacturers Championship. Of foremost importance with the newest GT3 was the reduction of drag and increasing power. As a result of the vehicle’s wider body, it was necessary to increase the frontal area, however the aerodynamics were still reduced by revising the front radiator inlet and outlet areas, and reducing the cross-sectional areas of both, along with extending the nose forward by approximately 3cm. Major design changes are went further in the rear of the car, with the bodywork extending 8cm rearward, widening 10cm and losing almost 3cm in height at the rear deck giving the body style a more conventional ‘fastback’ design. To keep weight low, all the body parts were produced in lightweight ZPREG carbon fiber using an innovative mold-making process that features room temperature curing rather than an oven. The GT3’s short rear deck reduces aerodynamic turbulence and integrated rear wheel arch vents have been incorporated. Another significant change to the body was a result of a mechanical modification. Though I personally loved the look of the roof scoop that fed cooling air to the engine’s intercooler, it was eliminated, which allows for a cleaner, smoother airflow over the car and rear clamshell. This necessitated a change to a water-to-air intercooler, from the previous air-to-air. In terms of horsepower, Lotus Engineering had seemingly pushed the 1.8-litre VVTL-I four-cylinder Toyota 2ZZ-GE as far as a production car engine was capable of going. Unbelievably, after further coaxing, the GT3 produces 350 horsepower! That is over 80 horsepower per cylinder. 0-60 is at least achieved in 3.9 seconds, possibly faster. Lotus has announced plans to sell this car in the U.K. for about $100,000. I would guess that many would still view this six-figure Lotus as a bargain.