On a brief road drive, the Exige is exhilarating, ferociously fast and intensely engaging to a level that no modern Lotus has previously reached.
It’s firm-riding, no doubt, and buyers after a Lotus that glides should look elsewhere – one hopes they wouldn’t be considering a Lotus with standard tow hooks anyway, but just in case. With that firmness, though, comes impeccable control and composure from the three-way adjustable Nitron dampers. And of course, those, as well as the Eibach anti-roll bars, can be tweaked to each buyer’s tastes. The brakes, using a new design of disc from AP Racing, are beyond reproach.
Is it too much for the road? If you aren’t one of those hardy souls who would happily just drive to Cadwell Park to drive around Cadwell Park, perhaps. You’ll certainly want the optional stereo and air conditioning, at least, because the performance gain from ditching those simply isn’t worth the sacrifice, even if it does push the price over £100,000.
However, if you are serious about driving, and circuit driving in particular, the Cup 430’s compromise is fine. And with so much adjustability, the dynamics can be tailored to your liking. Plus, while the interior is a challenge to fold into, it is comfortably snug.
This Exige is made to perform off the public road, and at Lotus’s Hethel test circuit the payoff becomes evident. Be in no doubt: the Cup 430 is a magnificent track car. Weight is key, unsurprisingly enough.
A supermini kerb weight not only has benefits for acceleration, agility, braking and balance, but also in terms of circuit stamina. In a fairly hard half an hour or so on track, nothing got too hot or began to fade or gave even a hint of losing one jot of performance. It was lap after lap of ceaseless acceleration, staggering brake performance, towering grip and impeccable finesse. There was an element of fear, too, with the additional power certainly noticeable on a greasy track.
That there's so much more to learn about the Cup 430 only makes it more endearing. You will not master this car in a day and will have a huge amount of fun learning it. You may have one or two scary moments, though, so don’t say you weren’t warned.