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Lotus 3-Eleven Hethel firm’s fastest

Eleventh heaven: Lotus' hardcore 3-Eleven is unlikely to appear in Australian dealerships, but it could end up on a local race track.

The Lotus 3-Eleven is the fastest production model in the company’s 60-year history


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30 Jun 2015

LOTUS has leveraged the United Kingdom’s largest motoring-related event to unveil its fastest-ever production car, the 3-Eleven, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend.

The 3-Eleven is based on the Elise sportscar, but featuring a speedster-style open body made from industry-first resin-infused composites that are 40 per cent lighter than the fibreglass equivalent.

Lotus says just 311 examples are scheduled to be built from February, priced upwards of $A150,000.

However, as with the preceding 2-Eleven, the latest Lotus is unlikely to reach Australia, in road-going guise at least, according to Lotus Australia and New Zealand spokesperson Edward Rowe.

“Whether it comes here as a road-usable car is another question because we have to see whether it meets the appropriate homologation rules,” he told GoAuto.

“There are a few aero devices that may cause a few issues… but undoubtedly cars will come to Australia as track cars, as with the 2-Eleven.”

Capable of 290km/h in road-going ‘Road’ guise, the 3-Eleven is powered by a heavily modified version of the Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre quad-cam V6 found in the recently announced Evora 400. A less performance-honed version is also found under the bonnet of the more sedate Australian-built Aurion sedan.

Aided by a supercharger and water-to-air charge cooler, the mid-mounted Japanese engine delivers 336kW of power at 7000rpm and 450Nm of torque between 3500 and 6500rpm to the rear wheels via a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with a Torsen-type limited slip differential in Road guise.

Along with switching to a six-speed sequential transmission with a semi-dry sump and oil cooler, the slightly lighter (sub-900kg), 280km/h 'Race’ 3-Eleven employs additional side-impact bars and aerodynamic downforce of up to 215kg at 240km/h to help it meet competition guidelines.

Lotus says the newcomer is the company’s quickest production car to ever lap its Hethel test track, doing so in one minute and 22 seconds.

To help achieve that end, both models are built on a chassis design of extruded and bonded aluminium sections, underpinned by double wishbone suspension all round, adjustable front anti-sway bars, and Eibach springs with Ohlins adjustable dampers. An aero-optimised rear diffuser and under-tray is fitted, while a specifically designed exhaust minimises back pressure for better performance.

Keeping the latter in check are AP Racing four-pot callipers, 332mm vented discs and Bosch anti-lock brakes, with 225/40ZR18 tyres making bitumen contact up front and 275/35ZR19 rubber out back.

The open body boasts two front splitter and rear spoiler configurations according to Road or Race spec, and includes downforce-generating roll-bar covers. An ‘aeroscreen’ steps in for a conventional windscreen.

Also unique to the 3-Eleven is a race-themed TFT instrumentation cluster, quick release steering wheel, four-point harnesses, and delete-option passenger seat that is replaced by a fitted tonneau cover for improved air flow. The Race version also includes an FIA-approved driver’s race seat with six-point harness protection, fire extinguisher, and a battery kill switch.

Speaking at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the car was unveiled, Group Lotus PLC chief executive officer Jean-Marc Gales said the 3-Eleven is true to the company’s ethos by punching well above its weight against vehicles costing three times the price and more.

"We always say that to make a sportscar better, you make it faster and lighter,” he said. “The new Lotus 3-Eleven carries that philosophy to a new level, and is perfectly in keeping with our brand values.

“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.”

The Lotus 2-Eleven was an Exige-based track special with a similar mechanical configuration, built from 2007 to 2011.

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