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Lotus ups the ante with Exige Race 380 race car, which sets new track record

The Lotus Exige is no longer sold in the U.S., but that didn’t stop Lotus from teasing U.S. car enthusiasts with a new racing version of the nimble little sports car. It’s called the Exige Race 380, and is based on the Exige Sport 380 road car sold overseas.

The Race 380 uses the 3.5-liter supercharged V6 used in some other Lotus models, tuned to produce 375 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. For this racing version, Lotus added an Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission for faster shifts that is controlled by carbon fiber paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Other additions include an oil cooler, cassette-type plate limited-slip differential, and an optional titanium exhaust system.

Lotus says the Exige Race 380 will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, and will lap its Hethel, England, test track in 1 minute, 23.5 seconds. That’s the fastest time ever for the Exige at that track, which is saying something, because Lotus seems to come out with a new racing or road-going variant of the Exige every week.

That lap time is due to not only the powerful engine, but also the copious downforce produced by the car’s modified bodywork. Lotus says the Race 380 generates 240 kilograms (529 pounds) of downforce at 170 mph, proving the flamboyant bodywork isn’t just for show. Lotus added vents to help reduce pressure in the wheel wells, a rear grille to help circulate air through the engine compartment, and a new front splitter, rear diffuser, and rear spoiler.

The Exige Race 380 also features upgraded suspension and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that are mounted on lightweight forged alloy wheels. As in all race cars, the interior is short on creature comforts, but has everything a driver needs, including a lightweight seat, six-point harness, fire extinguisher, and a thin film transistor, or TFT, instrument display.

The Lotus Exige Race 380 is available to order now at a U.K. price of 99,500 pounds (about $120,000). Lotus hasn’t discussed U.S. availability or pricing. Road-going versions of the Exige and related Elise are expected to arrive here in 2020, after Lotus updates their safety equipment to meet U.S. standards as part of a comprehensive redesign.