The end is in sight for the Hethel heroes – here's how two of them will sign off
By Matt Bird / Monday, February 8, 2021 / Loading comments
So, this is it then: a new era really is coming at Lotus. With so much still to learn about the Type 131, perhaps nothing indicates how drastic a change is imminent than the demise of the existing models. With just this Exige and Elise Final Edition pair – an equivalent Evora is set to follow – Lotus is bringing to an end a combined 46 years of production. Goodness knows we’ve seen plenty of special editions over that time, too, though perhaps none will be as significant as these.
As such, Lotus isn’t holding back, and has created a range of Final Editions cars – five in total. From £45,000 to £100,000, there are two Elises – a Sport 240 and a Cup 250 – alongside a trio of Exiges – the Sport 390, the Sport 420 and the Cup 430 – pitched by Lotus as “the ultimate versions” of both, which “mark the pinnacle of technical development to showcase more than two decades of engineering excellence”.
With this year also marking 25 years since production began, attention is inevitably drawn to the Elise. Both the Final Edition models receive a new TFT dash – presumably closely related to the option introduced last year – as well as a new flat-bottomed wheel to make getting in and out that bit easier. Better late than never at all, right? New seat trims and a Final Edition plaque will mark out both interiors.
Appropriately, adding lightness is a central theme throughout all these valedictory specials; the Elise Sport 240 – which succeeds the old Sport 220 for this last year – can actually be optioned down to 898kg. As standard, buyers will get new forged wheels that are lighter than those used on the 220, with extras including a lithium-ion battery, polycarbonate rear window and carbon fibre add ons. Lotus claims the 240bhp (243hp) model will reach 60mph in 4.1 seconds.
The Cup 250 is broadly as we’ve known the car since launch, with additional aerodynamic focus, Bilstein dampers and Yokohama A052 tyres. But it’s not quite the same, as a range of heritage paint options have been introduced for the Final Edition: these include Azure Blue, as that was the colour of the Elise used in the first media pics, Racing Green like the ’95 Frankfurt show car and, er, black. Because that’s the Lotus Motorsport colour. The Sport 240 FE costs £45,500, the Cup 250 £50,900.
Similarly to the Elise, the less expensive Exige Final Editions are perhaps most interesting. A Cup 430 remains at the top, a £100k supercar scarer that gets Nitron three-way dampers, Cup 2 tyres, AP Racing brakes and everything else needed to make the Exige go as fast as it possibly can. Which, from experience, is faster than pretty much anything else. Again, colours will mark it out as a 2021 Exige, the Final Editions offered in – but not limited to – Metallic White, as per the 2011 Frankfurt show car where the V6 S3 was launched, and Metallic Orange, like the first press car in 2000.
For this year, the Sport 390 Exige replaces the Sport 350, packing another 47bhp for 397bhp in total – or 402hp in new money. Powering a car weighing just 1,138kg, Lotus reckons the Sport 390 can reach 60mph in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 172mph. Forged wheels are standard, with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres wrapped around them.
Similarly, the Sport 420 replaces an old model – in this case the Sport 410. With an extra 10bhp (and 426 metric horsepower in total) and less aggressive aero than the Cup 430 flagship, it’s actually the fastest of the 2021 range, with a top speed of 180mph. In fact, the Sport 420 borrows a lot from the Cup, with the Nitron dampers, Cup 2 tyres, J-hook brake discs with AP calipers and Eibach adjustable anti-roll bars. It even weighs the same 1,110kg, so if last slivers of aero enhanced grip aren’t a priority (and you can live without the titanium exhaust), the Sport 420 looks like more than enough Exige for most. All three get the TFT dash, too.
The Final Edition Exige range starts at £64,000 for the Sport 390, rising to £79,900 for the Sport 420 and £100,600 for the Cup. The cars are all on sale now, Lotus suggesting nothing more for the moment than that all will be “built in limited numbers”. Still, given the specs of all five and their status as the very last ones ever, best move fast – they surely won’t hang around for long.
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