The long-awaited Lotus circuit car should be with us early next year, according to Lotus head of product Tony Shute.
Shute revealed the prototype car at the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb last year, but said that its development had been put on hold while work on the Europa was completed. Now that that car is on sale, along with the new Elise S, and work on the replacement for the Esprit supercar is well advanced, Lotus is looking to push ahead with the circuit car.
Based on the same platform as the Elise, the circuit car uses the same highly tuned 1796cc four-cylinder Toyota engine as the Elise R and Exige. As in the Exige S, it also has a supercharger, though it is mounted behind the engine, rather than on top, with the air intake on the side.
Shute said that the lack of a windscreen and roof meant airflow to the supercharger was improved over that in the Exige. Factor in the circuit car’s lower weight (this is perhaps the best modern exponent of Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s “add lightness” philosophy) and we can expect even better performance than the already seriously quick Exige S.
The use of common components across the Elise, Exige, Europa and circuit car also mean good news for potential owners: servicing and parts-sourcing should be easy. The Lotus Sport Exige GT3 car, for example, which develops around 300bhp, uses standard heads and internal components, making them cheap and easy to replace.
While the new car is designed primarily for use on tracks, Shute said it was likely that the first cars would be made fully road legal, in order to demonstrate their all-round capabilities. As the car uses so many Elise components, it would also be easy to get type approval. Shute also thought that the car could potentially be exported to the US. The Elise has been a big success in the States, with up to 2000 cars a year being sold there.