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.