Lotus’ nutso 3-Eleven 430 is the last version of the road-going (in some countries) race car. The swansong 3-Eleven, limited to just 20 cars worldwide, will hold the crown as the fastest car around the company’s Hethel track. For at least six months, anyway. Whatever comes next will surely obliterate it.
The 430 in the name obviously comes from the power figure – 430PS from the Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre Edelbrock-superchaged V6. 0-100km/h (0-62mph) passes in just 3.1 seconds for the 920kg carbon and aluminium monster. The kerb weight is down five kilos, if you’re interested.
Torque is a wild 440Nm – or wild in a car this light, at least – and helps push the 430 around Hethel two seconds quicker than the previous version. It also knocked off the Exige 430 by two-tenths. Top speed is a frankly bananas 280km/h (174mph).
Power hits the road through a six-speed manual which includes a “Lotus Precise Shift” and its own cooling. The driver can choose from six traction control settings (including “off”). Everything is held up by Öhlins adjustable dampers and Eibach springs. The wheels are 18 at the front, 19 at the rear wrapped in Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres (225/40 front, 275/35 rear). Lotus reckons you can generate 1.5 lateral gs. That’s…a lot, and definitely helped along by the Worsen-Type diff
Also helping out is the lighter, carbon fibre bodywork wrapped around the now-traditional bonded aluminium chassis.
The 3-Eleven already had actual, real downforce. Lotus’ engineering team found another 44kg to take the total to 265kg, impressive for a roadgoing car.
The new straight-cut rear wing is higher and has re-profiled wing endplates. The front splitter is a monster and the flat floor feeds into a big rear diffuser.
What’s a 3-Eleven?
Anything with a Lotus badge and an Eleven in the name, is an open cockpit special.
The 3-Eleven joined the Lotus range in the dark days of 2015, not long after the idiotic reign of Danny Bahar. Unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it joined a crowded track-day special market populated with startup types like Zenos, BAC and Ariel as well as old-stagers like Caterham.
When we first unveiled the Lotus 3-Eleven it heralded a new generation of truly focused, world-class sports cars. It altered perceptions of what was possible at this price category, and today the new 3-Eleven 430 moves the benchmark to remain the ultimate weapon in focused road driving and track work.”
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO
It’s had a relatively short but effective life. Sadly, it won’t go into active retirement like the Seven did all those years ago. With new owner Geely sending money to modernise the plant and with plans for two new cars by 2020, times are changing.
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Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.