Lotus rolls-out fastest road production car – the 180 mph 3-Eleven

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The Lotus 3-Eleven made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend

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Lotus has unveiled its latest track-burning car at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Billed as the company’s "quickest and most expensive series production car ever," the Lotus 3-Eleven launches from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds and has already clocked a record 1 min 22 sec lap at Lotus's Hethel track.

The Lotus 3-Eleven comes in two versions: The Road, which squeaks in as a road-legal ride, and the Race, which is based on the Road, but has an aerodynamic kit that ups the ante along with other options. The latter also emphasises the model’s light weight, coming in at under 900 kg (1,984 lb) and a power to weight ratio of 500 bhp per tonne.

The 3-Eleven is its much more aggressive style over 2007's 2-Eleven, though in a form-follows-function way. What the open cockpit and double clamshell body lacks in elegance, it makes up for in aerodynamics, allowing the Race to achieve a downforce of up to 215 kg (475 lb) at 150 mph (240 km/h), and reinforce the impression that the 3-Eleven is really all about the track.

Underneath the shell is the bespoke chassis made of extruded and bonded aluminum sections, and the roll cage's twin side bars. Meanwhile, the Race has additional bars to meet international racing safety requirements.

The shell itself is an all-new lightweight resin infusion composite that Lotus says is 40 percent lighter than glass resin. Drag is kept down by minimizing the cross section, which also optimizes cooling for the engine and gearbox by means of large openings in the front clamshell and side scallops from the front wheel arches.

Aerodynamics are also improved by the roll-bar cover for more downforce. Fixed spoilers are available for either version, as is a passenger seat and a fitted tonneau panel.

The Lotus 3-Eleven boasts a new version of the Evora 400's 3.5-liter V6 engine with a supercharger and integrated water-to-air charge cooler for a pounding 450 bhp (336 kW) and 450 Nm (332 lbs ft) of torque. Behind this is a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with a Torsen-type limited slip differential, performance clutch assembly, and oil cooler, while the Race has a six-speed sequential flappy-paddle gearbox a semi-dry sump, oil cooler, and limited slip differential.

Put this all together and you get 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in an eye-raising under 3 seconds. Top speed for the Race is 174 mph (280 km/h) and 180 mph (290 km/h) for the Road.

Suspension-wise, the Lotus 3-Eleven has lightweight, double-wishbones front and rear, with an adjustable front anti-roll bar and Eibach springs with Öhlins adjustable dampers for bespoke adjustments. Also included is the Lotus traction control system.

The 3-Eleven rolls on lightweight forged aluminum wheels with a choice of Michelin Pilot Super Sport or Michelin Cup 2 tires, depending on the version. Brakes are AP Racing four-piston calipers with two-part grooved and vented 332 mm front and rear discs and upgraded pads for the Race.

The interior is race focused with an instrument cluster based around a color TFT screen, which switches between road and track modes. There's also a quick-release steering wheel, standard Lotus sports seats with four-point harnesses, while the Race has an optional data logger system, FIA approved race seat, six-point harness, fire extinguisher, and battery kill switch.

The Lotus 3-Eleven is limited to 311 units with production starting in February 2016 and first deliveries in April. The Road's starting price is £82,000 and the Race at £96,000.

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