In the Spotlight - Lotus 3-Eleven {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

18 Aug 2017

Of the four cars in our In the Headlights promotion on Track Weapons this week, in reality three of them are tweaked versions of normal road cars, made a little more extreme to be better suited to the track. But one – the Lotus 3-Eleven – is designed from the ground up to be the best arrive-and-drive track car available.

Starting with the already impressive Exige Sport 350 as its base, Lotus set about removing as much weight as possible – though in reality they just used the chassis and engine. They then added a carbon fibre bodyshell in only the areas deemed necessary for aerodynamic purposes, slapped on a big carbon rear wing and stuck on some wheels. Oh, and they put in the bare minimum of interior as well. The bodywork is a work of art, with massive intakes, vents, scoops and wings all over – the rear deck shows off the top of the engine and the front bonnet vent houses the radiator fans.

The bodywork just barely covers the mechanical parts, but what a wonderful set of parts they are. The engine is a 3.5 litre supercharged V6 putting out 404bhp that emits a wonderful screaming bark at full chat – but most will be surprised to learn that it’s actually a Toyota sourced unit from the Camry (without the ‘charger obviously). When you combine that with the 925kg weight the performance is staggering – 0-62mph comes up in 3.3 seconds and it tops out at 174mph which I’m sure is rather windy without a windscreen.

There really isn’t much to see inside, a couple of fibreglass racing bucket seats with 5-point harnesses, a steering wheel, LCD display pod and a small carbon fibre pod housing the starter button and cut-out switch along with lights. The gearshift is a work of art too – a fully exposed linkage not only saves weight but looks amazing and gives the most satisfying clunk-click when shifting.

The best thing about any Lotus is always the handling though and the 3-Eleven doesn’t disappoint. The way it attacks a corner and sticks when you floor the throttle is enough to scramble your senses, and it only gets better as you go faster thanks to the downforce. The steering is incredibly direct, the suspension firm yet compliant enough to take going over a rubbing strip and the brakes will make you think you’re coughing up a lung. It’s just about the best thing you can buy for driving to a track, having fun then driving home.

It’s worth pointing out that Lotus do offer a Track-only version of the 3-Eleven which has another 40bhp and weighs less, and has a sequential gearbox and better aero. But that is around £30k more expensive and isn’t road legal, so we can’t feature it in our competition.

Don’t forget to buy your Lotus tickets here

With thanks to Bell and Colvill for access to their lovely green 3-Eleven.