Lotus 3-Eleven unveiled: the fastest Lotus ever! | CAR Magazine

Lotus 3-Eleven unveiled: the fastest Lotus ever!

Published: 26 June 2015 Updated: 26 June 2015

► New Lotus 3-Eleven is here
► 444bhp supercharged V6!
► 0-60mph in <3.0sec 

The new Lotus 3-Eleven was unveiled today at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – it’s the fastest roadgoing Lotus ever and, as its name suggests, the successor to the hardcore 2-Eleven from back in 2008. 

It’s also blisteringly expensive: at £115,200 for the Race version, it’s the priciest Lotus yet sold, reflecting the brand’s continued push upmarket. Fortunately, the roadgoing version shorn of some track gimmicks is a marginally more palatable £96,000.

This is Lotus distilled to its purest form: light weight is all, creature comforts are not even on the menu and agile handling is the #1 target.

Lotus 3-Eleven: what is it?

As you can tell from these first official photographs published today, the 3-Eleven is the latest iteration of the evergreen Elise aluminium platform, but stripped back for ultimate track thrills. What few body panels you see are fashioned from a new resin infusion composite material that’s claimed to be 40% lighter than GRP plastic.

It’s going to be monstrously fast: there’s the familiar Toyota-sourced 444bhp 3.5-litre supercharged V6 slung amidships to provide serious grunt in a car weighing comfortably under 900kg in Race spec.

You read that right: the 3-Eleven boasts over 500bhp-per-tonne, meaning it can accelerate from 0-60mph in less than three seconds and – if you’re feeling brave – top out at 180mph when equipped in Road spec. Even Lotus officials are claiming it’s a bit of an animal, despite the standard limited-slip diff trying to tame all 332lb ft of torque.

Inside the 3-Eleven's cabin

What’s the difference between Road and Race versions?

The track-focused 3-Eleven adds a more aggressive aero kit, FIA-approved driver’s seat with full six-point harness to hold you tight and a sequential gearbox with paddle shifts to bang through the ratios on the six-speed transmission. Road versions have a manual six-speeder.

That huge rear wing ain’t just for show; Lotus claims it’ll develop 215kg of downforce at 150mph. Both versions have adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, double wishbones, Eibach springs and Ohlins adjustable dampers, to let you tune the chassis to your choosing.

Road models come with Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber while Race versions come with slicker Michelin Cup 2 tyres; they’re wrapped around 18in wheels at the front axle and 19s out back. AP Racing four-pot calliper brakes are fitted, with tougher pads on the track version.

The Lotus CEO on the new 3-Eleven

Jean-Marc Gales, the boss of Group Lotus, said: ‘This new car is a giant slayer, capable of embarrassing far more expensive rivals. It condenses our engineering know-how into one, hard-core package, and is so focused that it won’t suit everyone. This is a perfect demonstration of the faster and lighter concept, something which will be crucial to all Lotus cars in the future.’

Just 311 models will be built (see what they’ve done there?) and first deliveries are due in April 2016.

The new Lotus 3-Eleven: 0-60mph in less than 3.0sec

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words