It's hard to imagine an even more hardcore driving machine than the regular Lotus Exige, though every time we think that, Lotus goes and releases something like this.
Enter the new Exige Cup 430, which supplants the existing Cup 380 at the top of the range.
To make the Cup 430, Lotus has fitted the engine from the Evora GT430, a 3.5-liter supercharged V6 rated at (you guessed it) 430 horsepower, backed by 325 lb-ft (440 Nm) of torque, all channeled to the rear wheels through an open-gate, six-speed manual transmission.
The new Cup 430 is more than just an engine-shoehorn job, though. Lotus has tuned the powertrain specifically for the lighter Exige, fitted more aggressive aero, and (true to founder Colin Chapman's ethos) made it lighter, too.
In fact, properly specified (without the airbag), the Exige Cup 430 can weigh as little as 2,328 pounds (1,055 kg). With such a power-to-weight ratio, Lotus says its latest model will hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and top out at 180 miles per hour (289 km/h). This despite the 485 pounds (220 kg) of downforce the 430's new aero package is capable of generating, shifted more towards the front for sharper turn-in – all of which helps in the corners, but creates more drag in a straight line.
The best indicator of the new Cup 430's capabilities, in the end, may very well be its lap time. Lotus says the ultimate Exige will round its legendary Hethel test track in just 1 minute and 24.8 seconds, making it the fastest production car ever to lap the circuit. That's 1.2 seconds faster than the hardcore 3-Eleven.
Unfortunately, with federal regulations having long since outpaced the Exige's development, US customers won't be able to drive the Cup 430 on American roads (though they may be able to buy it for track duty). The order books are open now in Europe, though, with a £99,800 sticker price in the UK, €127,500 in Germany, and €128,600 in France.