From £52,9009
Using the Lotus Evora GT430’s engine and a host of chassis revisions, the Cup 430 is the most focused Exige yet – we head to Hethel to try it

Our Verdict

Lotus Exige S

Hethel goes back to basics with its Lotus Exige

  • First Drive

    Lotus Exige Cup 430 2017 review

    Using the Lotus Evora GT430’s engine and a host of chassis revisions, the Cup 430 is the most focused Exige yet – we head to Hethel to try it
  • First Drive

    2016 Lotus Exige Sport 380 review

    The Lotus Exige Sport 380 range-topper is called a ‘supercar killer’ by its maker, and you won’t find us disagreeing
14 November 2017

What is it?

The Lotus Exige Cup 430 represents the pinnacle of Lotus’s Cup models, the ultimate Exige and the quickest street-legal Lotus ever - a tantalising prospect if ever there was one.

Indeed, Lotus stresses that this is a new model, rather than a development of the Exige Sport 380, substantiating those claims with a new engine (to Evora GT430 spec), extensive aerodynamic enhancements and overhauled suspension. How comprehensive are the updates? Consider this for attention to detail: even the front numberplate has been moved upwards so that air can flow underneath it, benefitting the aero balance.

Lotus claims a lightest dry weight of 1056kg, which makes for 407bhp per tonne with a 430bhp total. So, 0-62mph is reached in just 3.3sec, and top speed is 180mph – some going in an Exige. Maximum downforce is now 220kg, split with more emphasis on the front (100kg) to improve high-speed turn in. The result of all this is an incredible lap time at Lotus’s Hethel test track of 1min 24.8sec – 1.2 seconds faster than the Sport 380.

What's it like?

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.

Should I buy one?

It will take commitment, certainly, but it’s hard to imagine anything better for track day fiends. With a motorsport edge to an already superb sports car, the Cup 430 takes the Exige above and beyond where it has ever been before. As well it should, you might argue, for £100,000.

If this was an entirely new model and Lotus had never made an Exige before, there would be no qualms about a £100K asking price – it’s that good.

The problem is that many associate the Exige with being a £60K sports car rather than a £100,000 GT3-getter. Still, those who can’t see what this offers over a regular Exige only stand to miss out; those who get it will find one of those most invigorating, immersive and outrageously exciting track cars for the money.

The Cup 430 answers its compromises on road with staggering circuit performance, and as such represents one of the best Lotuses of recent times. 

Matt Bird

Lotus Exige Cup 430

Where Hethel, Norfolk On sale Now Price £99,800 Engine V6, 3456cc, supercharged petrol Power 430bhp @ 7000rpm Torque 325lb ft @ 4000-6800rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerbweight 1093kg Top speed 180mph 0-62mph 3.3sec Fuel economy NA CO2 rating 242g/km Rivals Porsche 911 GT3, Mercedes-AMG GT R

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Comments
8

14 November 2017

Why do they always have to put such a ridiculouly incorrect price in the heading?

 

'From £52900' clearly has no relevance whatsoever to the car being reviewed.

14 November 2017

i have to agree with you on the "From £52900" not being relevant to the car tested, as it isn't; i can't find it in the article anywhere.

14 November 2017
russ13b wrote:

i have to agree with you on the "From £52900" not being relevant to the car tested, as it isn't; i can't find it in the article anywhere.

Erm, it's right under the headline. In bold. Right next to the red stars.

 

14 November 2017

somehow i missed that

14 November 2017

Isn't what you're doing like looking at a Playboy centrefold and complaining about the wallpaper?

Lotus just launched a 430bhp, 1093kg car!

14 November 2017
So many exciting cars right now. 430, 720, ZR1...

15 November 2017

I'm sure this is a great car around Lotus' private test track with the full support of the manufacturer close by, but what's it like after a year's ownership? According to the Lotus website (when i could get it to work), the Cup model has a 1 year or 6000 mile warranty and "USE IN A COMPETITIVE MANNER, INCLUDING TIMED LAPS OR RUNS, WILL INVALIDATE THE WARRANTY". 

Shows confidence in the product!

16 November 2017

you'll find that about track use applies to most cars, in the same way that your regular insurance won't cover you for similar things.Lotus actually say; We are proud to back this with our Manufacturers Warranty that gives you up to 3 years unlimited mileage cover on the car and up to 8 years cover against perforation on the Lotus DNA designed chassis. Lotus Racing vehicles, most Cup models, and some road going special edition models will have different terms and conditions with up to 1 Year or 6,000 mile Warranty. Cars built by the Motorsport division of Lotus are intended for use as road going passenger cars and for use in non-competition track day events. USE IN A COMPETITIVE MANNER, INCLUDING TIMED LAPS OR RUNS, WILL INVALIDATE THE NEW VEHICLE WARRANTY. Participation in track day events other than competitive events or timed laps or runs will not invalidate the New Vehicle Warranty, unless the vehicle is hired to participate in such events on a commercial basis.

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