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Of all the automakers that offer winter driving schools, Lotus seems like the worst fit. With their famous British reliability and bare metal cabin surfaces, the prospect of driving a Lotus in freezing temperatures strikes us as a task fit for British masochists like Max Mosley.
But with Lotus’ re-branding, a new emphasis on the “lifestyle” aspects of the company and the Evora’s actual inclusion of fabric and leather interior trim pieces, taking one of the mid-engined supercars out for a jaunt in the snow may not be so punishing anymore.
At their new Finnish facility 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, guests will learn to deal with understeer, oversteer, steering and throttle techniques and also be able to partake in activities like ice fishing, snowmobiling and “reindeer driving”. We’d gladly pay the $2895 entry fee for that activity alone.
“Add lightness,” is the world famous maxim of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, and decades on, the British specialty firm rigidly adheres to their mantra, producing cars like the Elise, Exige and Evora that can hang with the world’s best supercars and still deliver terrific fuel economy, thanks to their featherweight construction and efficient powertrains.
But the sports car market is limited in its scope, and Lotus is looking to bring its trade secrets to the mainstream world. Lotus held a demonstration featuring a Toyota Venza that had been given a weight reduction treatment by Lotus, and the improved car was 38% lighter, excluding the drivetrain.
Despite retaining the same interior and exterior dimensions, as well as safety characteristics, the car used lighter interior pieces, climate control units and re-designed suspension components that allowed for more efficient packaging of the car, and exotic materials were kept to a minimum.
Lotus claims that lightweight cars will have a positive effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boost fuel consumption, although no specifics were given. Lotus has collaborated with other manufacturers in the past, notably General Motors and Ford, but their projects have always been performance rather than economy cars.
[Source: World Car Fans]
New version of already impressive track car now weighs in at under 2,000 lbs
As expected, Lotus has announced the release of a cup car version of the new 2010 Exige 260. Powered by the same 257-hp supercharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder as the street car, the race-ready Cup version weighs just 1,958 lbs, making for what will no-doubt be an outrageously good track machine. Lotus says the Exige Cup 260 can hit 60 mph in four seconds flat.
The standard Exige 260 model already weights 84 lbs less than last year’s model, and the Cup car version sheds an additional 26 lbs thanks to the use of plenty of light-weight material. Carbon fiber components include the roof, seats, dash-top, tailgate, center tunnel, front access panels, front splitter, side intake ducts and rear spoiler. Additional light weight components include a lighter motorsports battery, ultra-light wheels, a revised rear engine subframe, alloy u-bend pipes for the supercharger and a lightweight flywheel.
The new Lotus Sport forged wheels are the lightest original equipment wheels in the world, weighing just 5.65 kg (12 lbs) in the front and 7.75 kg (17.1 lbs) in the rear.
Additional improvements over the past cup car include a Ohlins two-way adjustable shocks and a chassis that is now 30 percent stiffer thanks to a new diffuser and structural “shear panel” that links the rear subframe to the main chassis. The rear spoiler also grows for improved downforce, measuring 181mm (7.1-inches) wider, 46mm (1.8-inches) higher and it sits 61mm (2.4-inches) further back.
Roger Becker, Director of Vehicle Engineering for Lotus said, “The Lotus Exige Cup 260 is the epitome of the Lotus brand philosophy of performance through lightweight. Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, once said “Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere” and the Exige Cup 260 totally proves this, being one of the most exhilarating, focused and pure sportscars on the road today.”
So far Lotus has only set European pricing, with the Exige Cup 260 priced at £45,000 in the U.K. We do expect it will make its way to North America, although PR boss Kevin Smith at Lotus Cars USA says there are no official plans yet. Still, we’re certain a few of the competitors in the Lotus Challenge Series would be eager to get their hands on this new model.
GALLERY: 2010 Lotus Exige Cup 260
Official release after the jump: