Last but not least of the Exige models
For the last six years we’ve enjoyed the third-generation Exige in one form or another. We’ve had the V6 S, the Sport 350, Sport 380, Cup 430 and now the Sport 410. The Cup 430 was a heavily compromised car on the road as it was destined largely for the track, and you could view this 410 as a slightly more road-going version of that. Which sounds like a brilliant idea.
Naturally it weighs nothing. If you had to put a number on it then it would be 1054kg if you add in some carbon options, and frankly I’ve got relatives that weigh more than that. How far can you take this weight-saving? How about losing 2.5kg more? Sounds worth it doesn’t it – all you have to do is lose the airbag, which is in fact an option open to you.
Lotus Exige Sport 410
Engine: 3.5-litre, V6, supercharged petrol
Torque: 310lb ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1108kg
Top speed: 180mph
CO2 emissions: 240g/km
The lines are hugely attractive and minimal but then you’ve got the huge bits of aero work like the rear wing and front splitter. There’s 150kg of downforce on offer, and there’s some gorgeous work underneath to keep that air flowing in the right way.
It’s all rather more elegant than actually getting in, which can be quite a challenge for those who don’t regularly practice hot yoga. Once you’ve managed to descend below pavement level to the Alcantara bucket seats it doesn’t feel so cramped, although the prospect of getting out again can overshadow your enjoyment.
The cabin feels better put together than ever before, even if that doesn’t mean actually putting many elements into the cabin. Still, the few things there feel solidly screwed down.
On the move the 410bhp from the 3.5-litre supercharged V6 are joined by 310lb ft of torque which has an impressively flat delivery all the way. Off the line this thing is as fast as a McLaren F1 car. So, quick then. The roadster can hit 145mph but the coupe has potential for 180mph. So, very quick then.
However, as ever with Lotus, it’s not the performance that so bedazzles, it’s the way the car handles it all. It can change direction absurdly quickly, hold a line with ferocious tenacity and generally dart about so quickly it’s hard to keep up. What’s so remarkable about this 410 compared to say the Cup 430 is that it does it all with a fair amount of grace and comfort.
You can adjust the suspension to full-on bonkers 430 if you want, or you can dial it back to gain a ride that is remarkably composed. To the extent that actually you could make this your daily transport, as long as you had an osteopath on speed dial to help you get in and out.
Make no mistake, this is still a highly competent track car, yet it also makes a very convincing road car. Traction and grip are incredible, direction changes unbelievable, yet you can drive this sensibly and in reasonable comfort should you choose. What a great farewell.