Lotus releases 2008 Exige Sport Cup 260

Lotus releases 2008 Exige Sport Cup 260

Colin Chapman's legacy of added lightness is making a comeback - not just in performance cars, but in run-of-the-mill daily drivers as well. Less weight means more exciting dynamics and greater efficiency, so it's easy to understand the resurgence in the decades-old design principle. But, like most things, no one seems to get it quite as right as the original, and the Lotus Exige Sport Cup 260 is a prime example.

Offering an eponymous 260PS (257hp) the newest Exige Cup brings 5 more hp to the table compared to last year's car. Designed for the track, the ultimate Exige is also fitted with special aerodynamic upgrades, variable traction and launch control, a special instrument pack and a number of performance upgrades - all while staying under 930kg (2046lb), yielding a power-to-weight ratio of 271hp per tonne (251hp/ton US).

Helping the Exige through the twisty bits is a set of Yokohama A048R tires, molded in a Lotus-specific LTS compound. Bringing things down to turn-in speed, four-piston AP Racing front calipers clamp 308mm two-piece aluminum rotors to resist fade and provide ample power. A full FIA-compliant six-point roll cage keeps the occupants safe. The options list is full of track-specific additions, like slick tires, an FIA approved Recaro/Lotus sport seat, FIA approved 70L fuel cell, 'Level Two' stainless exhaust and - for truly hardcore race fans everywhere - a straight-cut dog gearbox. That last bit of kit is limited to track-use only, but that's a small price to pay for such glorious hardware.

Those additional aero pieces aren't just for go-fast looks, they are functional, providing 40kg (88lbs) downforce at 160km/h (100mph). The straight-line performance figures are impressive: 0-100km/h (60mph) in 4.1s; 0-160km/h (100mph) in 9.9s; and a top speed of 237km/h (147mph). Combined with the lightweight Exige's nimble agility, the Cup 260 makes for a track car par excellence.