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Car and Driver: Lotus Exige Sport 350 Adds Lightness, Plaidness—Keeps Not-for-America Badness

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Lotus is introducing a new Sport 350 version of its Exige two-seat coupe, and it brings more lightness and a groovy new plaid interior among its changes—but it unfortunately will not be bringing them to America.

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We can, however, look on enviously from afar while soaking up the details. Since Lotus is more weight-conscious than a supermodel in a room full of mirrors, we’ll start with the reduced mass: Lotus claims that the Exige Sport tiptoes across the scales at 2480 pounds, which represents a 112-pound weight loss compared with the previous, already-lithe Exige S.

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Buyers seeking the most-skeletal Exige possible can specify vented, two-piece brake discs and forged-aluminum wheels, each option shaving an additional 11 pounds off the total. For its part, Lotus claims to have examined each component of the mid-engine sports car in its quest to ferret out fat, liposuctioning offending grams from the battery, the engine mounts, and the HVAC ductwork. The sides of the center console are opened up, exposing the gearshift mechanism, and the rear glass is replaced by a lighter, louvered panel.

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Motivated by the same, supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 packing 345 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the Exige 350 Sport sprints to 60 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds (0.1 second quicker than before) and tops out at 170 mph. Lotus has revised the manual gearbox—a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic also is available—and firmed up the suspension, and now claims a sub-1:30 lap time for the car at the factory test track in Hethel.

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Also new is an available Tartan plaid interior (in yellow or red), similar to that recently introduced on the Elise Sport and Sport 220. Buyers feeling less bold can choose leather or microsuede instead. Other options include an audio system, air conditioning, and “full carpet and sound-insulation pack”—which tells you something about the hard-core nature of the standard setup.

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The Exige Sport 350 goes on sale this coming February in Europe and in other markets in March. Alas, those other markets do not include North America. Word is that Lotus won’t send us the Elise—and, presumably, the Exige—until 2020, when the next-generation cars arrive. Engineered to meet U.S. safety standards, they might not come bearing all the lightness of the Exige Sport 350, but let’s hope that they at least come bearing plaid.

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