With an all-new lightweight composite bodyshell, supercharged 336-kW (450-hp) V6 engine, and an open cockpit without windshield or doors, Lotus’s stark new no-nonsense 3-Eleven is its quickest production road car to date—and its most expensive, from (sterling) £82,000 to £115,200 for the race version, including U.K. taxes.
Available in both race—with a power-to-weight ratio of more than 370-kW/t—and road specifications, it is described by the company as “heralding a new generation of Lotus high-performance sports cars.”
Revealing the 3-Eleven, which will enter limited production (311 units) next year, Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales, said: “It condenses our engineering know-how into one hard-core package and is so focused that it won’t suit everyone!” He added that the new car, which follows the equally stark 2-Eleven of 2007-2010, demonstrates the company’s clear focus on the faster and lighter concept: “Something which will be crucial to all Lotus cars in the future.”
The car’s glass-fiber composite body, providing high levels of stiffness, is described as being 40% lighter than a GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) equivalent. It uses resin infusion composite technology. Lotus says manufacture of the material incorporates a new process that is a first for a production car and achieves “significantly” reduced cycle times.
The material’s technology is described as playing a major part in meeting very high performance standards and also facilitates the car’s distinctive styling, with complex geometry.
The road and race versions are distinguished by different front splitter designs.
A rollbar encloses the rear cage and contributes to downforce. A small aeroscreen for driver only is fitted to the race version, while a full-width aeroscreen is used for the road car, which also has the luxury of an optional passenger seat.
Instrumentation includes a TFT (thin-film-transistor) screen with separate road and track modes.
Although both versions are very similar, the race gets a sequential gearbox, enhanced aerodynamics—downforce of up to 215 kg (475 lb) at 240 km/h (150 mph)—and an FIA-approved driving seat with 6-point harness. Performance differences between race and road 3-Elevens are fairly close too, with the racer capable of reaching 290 km/h (180 mph) and the road version 280 km/h (175 mph). The race weighs in just below 900 kg (1985 lb) and both versions can reach 97 km/h (60 mph) in less than 3 s.
The 3-Eleven’s chassis is bespoke but as would be expected, it continues to use Lotus’s now traditional extruded and bonded aluminum sections. Chassis details include lightweight double wishbones front and rear linked to an adjustable front anti-roll bar and Eibach springs together with Öhlins adjustable dampers. Michelin tires are 225/40 ZR/18 front, 275/35 ZR19 rear.
The engine is an up-rated version of the 3.5-L V6 Toyota-based unit used for the Evora 400, producing maximum power at 7000 rpm and maximum torque of 450 N·m (332 lb·ft) from 3500 to 6500 rpm.
While the 3-Eleven race version gets a six-speed sequential transmission with semi-dry sump, oil cooler, limited slip differential, and paddle shift operation, the road has a regular six-speed manual with Torsen-type limited slip differential (LTD), with what Lotus describes as a “performance” clutch and oil cooler. Traction control is fitted.
Braking is looked after by a 4-pot AP Racing setup. Brake discs are two-part grooved and vented. Bosch ABS has been tuned by Lotus.