The fantastically angry-looking little Lotus 3-Eleven would seem to be every bit as fast as its looks suggest following its first public outing at a two-week test session during the industry pool test weeks at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, in which over 2,000kms were covered as part of the car’s test and development programme.
Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer for Group Lotus plc, said, “The success of this test session is proof that our development philosophy for the 3-Eleven is the right way to go. We’ve always said that to make a car faster you must make it lighter and this new car carries that philosophy to a new level. It condenses all of our engineering know-how into an undiluted performance-focused package and we’re pleased to showcase to the world, the quickest and most powerful production Lotus to date. The 3-Eleven achieved one of the fastest ever lap times around the Nürburgring for any class of car and faster than many other supercars”
Sticking to your founder’s principles is something not particularly common in the car manufacturing industry these days, but the “adding lightness” mantra that Lotus founder Colin Chapman espoused is now something all other manufacturers are paying attention to. According to the company the 3-Eleven “heralds a new generation of Lotus high performance sports cars” and features an all-new lightweight body, with an open cockpit design and a supercharged V6 that produces 335kW.
In what was its first appearance outside of Lotus’ Hethel HQ, the 3-Eleven was piloted by three different drivers with “individual areas of expertise and vehicle set-up” with specific focus on aerodynamics, engine calibration, chassis tuning and suspension geometry.
Gavan Kershaw, Technical Manager for Lotus Motorsport and Lotus 3-Eleven Development Driver, said, “It has been a hugely successful test for us in which we have thoroughly investigated areas of the car which are a specific focus for high performance driving. We have methodically worked through a test matrix concentrating on, aerodynamic balance, suspension settings, tyre and brake development, optimising engine calibration and throttle mapping to reach the required benchmark for performance.”
With clear running on the circuit an inhibiting factor over the course of the two week period – in which the track was not designated solely for the use of Lotus – the 3-Eleven lapped regularly on or below the target simulation time. By combining the quickest sector times achieved during the fastest 2 laps on the “Sport Auto” magazine lap configuration, a total lap time of 7 minutes 06 seconds was recorded by the vehicle’s data logging acquisition system.
Marc Basseng, one of the 3-Eleven drivers, said, “I know the Nürburgring Nordschleife very well and have driven many cars around the circuit. I can say that the 3-Eleven is the perfect car for a fast lap here. It is so sharp and so focussed; a true weapon! This was proven in the sector times set and I’m sure, with the track completely to itself, the car could push towards a 7min flat lap time.”