Motor shows move over, Goodwood had a true world premiere of a new car today –a brand new model that no one had seen before. And what a car!
It’s the Lotus 3-Eleven, successor to the much-loved 2-Eleven and the fastest and most focused Lotus for road and track yet.
A giant wooden crate containing the secret new car, and emblazoned with ‘It’s not for you’ stencilling, had intrigued everyone until 10.30am on Friday, when Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales literally drove this box-fresh car straight out of the box – to the glee of the packed FoS audience.
Jean-Marc told the crowd: ‘There is no better place than Goodwood to present a completely new car – especially the fastest Lotus ever.
‘To make a better Lotus you need to make it lighter and faster and the 3-Eleven does exactly that.’
We don’t know all the details yet but we do know enough about the 3-Eleven to get our appetites well and truly whetted.
On sale next year, it will cost £82,000 in the UK and get from 0-62mph in ‘under 3 seconds’. Top speed is 180mph, or 174mph for the race version. In that race trim, with race seat and harness, and more aggressive aero, it weighs under 900kg, more in road trim. The race car costs £115,200 including VAT.
Power is 450bhp, courtesy of a revised version of the supercharged V6 from the Exige S and Evora 400. Lotus say it is faster than either around the Hethel test track – by as much as 10-seconds for the race version.
The road car gets a six-speed manual box while the Race car has a six-speed sequential transmission. Both versions have standard limited slip diff.
Jean-Marc, who’s out driving cars on the Hethel circuit most evenings according to a spokesman, said there would be just 311 3-Elevens made.
First impressions of the Exige S-based car? Purposeful for sure, obviously a Lotus but certainly derivative – it lacks the shock of the new that came with the launch of the 2-Eleven eight years ago. Perhaps inevitably.
‘Eleven’ is a significant name for Lotus. The First Lotus Eleven (and first Lotus with a name starting with an E) marked the start of serious Lotus production when it came out in 1956. By 1959 270 of them had been built.
Then in 2007 the 2-Eleven stunned everyone with what was for the time a radical new look. Much loved by owners, 358 2-Elevens were built and are as enduringly popular as track cars at Goodwood and elsewhere today as ever.
Andy Elliman, chairman of Lotus’s longest continually serving dealership Bell & Colvill in Surrey and who has a stand at FoS this year, said the new 3-Eleven is exactly the right sort of new Lotus.
‘Bell & Colvill sold more 2-Elevens than anyone else by a country mile and we know what it is that made the car so popular – and this new car has it in spades. Diehard Lotus fans are going to love it.’
Jean-Marc summed up: ‘It’s a very exciting time for Lotus and we have lots more to come in the next two years.’