If there's one street-legal Lotus that truly lives up to founder Colin Chapman's "simplify and add lightness" mantra, it's the Exige. And the new 2010 Exige Cup 260 takes Chapman's mantra to a new extreme.
Starting with the already hardcore 2010 Exige S, Lotus engineers went through and replaced most aluminum body panels with carbon fiber parts. On top of that, they went through and stripped any equipment deemed unnecessary, including carpets, mud flaps, battery covers, the inner rear view mirror (rendered virtually useless by the microscopic rear window), and sun visors. These absent parts, along with a special motorsports battery and extremely lightweight wheels, allows the new Exige Cup 260 to tip the scales at 1958 pounds -- 84 less than a normal Exige S.
With 260 hp, the Exige Cup 260 isn't extremely powerful, but its lithe body allows it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.0 seconds. That's impressive, considering a stock Exige S -- with the same supercharged 1.8-liter I-4 -- makes the same run in 4.5 seconds.
Those interested in using the little Lotus as a track-day car will welcome revisions made to the Exige's optional launch and traction control systems. Originally developed for the Exige GT3 race car, the systems can be fully programmed to the driver's taste, allowing for optimum grip in a variety of situations. Lotus also added an adjustable front anti-roll bar and two-way adjustable Ohlins dampers to the Exige Cup 260, aiding the process of dialing the car in for different tracks.
Although the Exige Cup 260 may sound like a hardcore racer, it's actually street legal here and in Europe. Lotus hasn't specified when the car will arrive stateside, but pricing is expected to hover around the $80,000 mark when it does.