MALAYSIAN-OWNED Lotus is targeting a sub-seven-minute lap for its hot 3-Eleven two-seater, putting it in elite company such as such as the Lamborghini Aventadore LP 750-4 Superveloce and Porsche 918 Spyder.
Officially, only four cars have managed to crack the seven-minute barrier on the 20.8km Nordschleife track that is regarded as the definitive test of vehicle speed and handling competence.
Announcing the start of sales in the UK, Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales said few cars on the market could match the 3-Eleven in looks, speed and lap times.
“The 3-Eleven is the perfect car for a fast lap at the Nürburgring and is a sub seven-minute car in favourable conditions; a time like this puts the 3-Eleven firmly into hypercar territory,” he said.
Based on the Elise but with a super-light speedster-style open body, the 3-Eleven will begin sales deliveries in March.
Production will be limited to 311 units and the car comes in two varieties – Road and Race – with the latter weighing just 890kg and powered by a 336kW (450hp)/450Nm version of Lotus’ highly modified, Toyota-based supercharged 3.5-litre V6.
It is said to be capable of blasting from zero to 100km/h in about three seconds and on to a top speed of 290km/h.
The slightly heavier (925kg) and less powerful (305kW) Road version makes the 0-100km/h dash about four tenths of second slower, but that still puts it in Porsche 911 GT3 league.
Lotus says the 3-Eleven Race is already the fastest car ever tested at the company’s Hethel test circuit, lapping in 1 min 19.5 sec.
At Nurburgring, the fastest lap by a production car is said to be a 6:48.0 by English-built road-legal race car, the Radical SR8LM in 2009.
Its less serious stablemate, the Radical SR8, earlier achieved a 6:56.08 lap in 2005, while more recently, the hybrid petrol-electric Porsche 918 supercar did it in 6:57.00, while more recently again, Lamborghini’s Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce clocked the clocks at 6:59.73 this year.
Lotus has not said when it might tackle “the green hell” with the 3-Eleven, or who will drive it.
A massive rear wing, race-style front splitter, twin front canards and sculpted bodywork on the Race version are said to generate up to 215kg of downforce, making the sportscar capable of cornering with lateral acceleration of 1.5g.
Weight-saving measures include carbon-composite body panels in place of the usual Lotus fibreglass panels, and a lithium-ion battery developed for motorsport.
The 3-Eleven Race gets a six-speed sequential transmission, with the Road has a six-speed manual gearbox and Torsen-type limited-slip differential.