You thought the hardtop was visceral? Wait 'till you get behind the wheel of this brute.
We all know that Lotus makes some of the best drivers cars you can buy. Whether it's a humble Lotus Elise, a more grown-up Evora or utterly bonkers 3-Eleven, there's a Lotus out there to suit almost every need of the more committed driving enthusiast. There has, though, been a gap in the Lotus model line-up: a drop-top Sport version of the Exige, to sit between the four-cylinder Elise Sport and the arresting aforementioned 3-Eleven. Until now, that is, as Lotus has pulled the wraps off the Exige Sport 350 Roadster at this year's Geneva Motor Show.
As its name suggests, it's a soft top version of the fixed head Lotus Exige Sport 350. It sounds like a pretty basic summary, but it does at least mean the Exige Sport 350 Roadster has some ace specs to its name: mounted behind the cabin is a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 with an output of 345 hp. With a mere 1,080 kg to haul around (in comparison, the Porsche Boxster Spyder is 300kg heavier than the Lotus), that means this rawer Exige Roadster can crack the 0-60 mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, and roar its way to a limited top speed of 145 mph. According to Lotus, the limiter in place is to ensure the roof isn't torn from its securing points - we'll let you decide if that's more to do with the Exige Sport 350's speed, or the sturdiness of the roof's design.
Possible questionable roof construction aside, the Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster could very well be the most driver-centric soft top on sale today this side of a Caterham Seven Superlight. When the regular Exige S Roadster is already a proper thrill, one can only imagine how invigorating a lighter, more focused version would be. It's a shame, then, that we'll have to wait a quarter of a century to find out - as the Exige Sport 350 Roadster won't be coming to the USA, the only way we can get our hands on one is to either emigrate or wait for the 25-year import rule to lapse. Given it's a lightweight version of a car widely cited as one of the best vehicles Lotus has ever made, though, we'd like to think the wait will be worth it.