Lotus has taken the wraps off a new F1-inspired track-day special, which will sit at the top of a new range of road and racecars aimed at helping the company recapture its past glories.
The Lotus T125 is aimed at wealthy private buyers who want to the live the F1 dream; power comes from a 631hp Cosworth V8 racing engine offering near-GP2 levels of performance, thanks to a dry weight of just 1,433lbs. Only 25 examples will ever be built, with each buyer gaining access to a club – the Exos – that will allow them to sample the F1 lifestyle.
The T125, which is expected to sell for around $1m, is part of Lotus's future under new CEO Dany Bahar, who will reveal his ambitious plans to move Lotus road cars upmarket at the forthcoming Paris motor show. He believes Lotus was at its strongest when it was firmly involved in multiple forms of motorsport and there were strong connections between road and track. The Lotus T125 is how the Norfolk, UK-based company plans to restore that connection; it also references the Lotus 25, F1's first-ever monocoque racer.
The T125 is a radical departure for the company best known for making the Elise and its derivatives in recent years. It will sit at the top of the company's new range, representing the best of Lotus' technologies in the same mold as the Ferrari 599XX.
It is powered by a detuned 631hp, 332lb-ft 3.5-liter Cosworth V8 racing engine. The red line is 10,300rpm but a "push to pass" button ups this by 500rpm. The rear wheels are driven through an F1-style 6-speed semi-automatic sequential gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The T125 is 4910mm long, 1890mm wide and 1011mm high. It features a carbon fiber monocoque, carbonfiber suspension and carbon ceramic brakes.
Lotus USA marketing and PR executive Kevin Smith said the T125 was “not only a halo car for Lotus motorsport, but for Lotus overall. It's an outrageous track car and a complete, comprehensive package for someone who's ever dreamed of being an F1 driver. This is as close as you can get to the F1 experience."
The Exos club will give T125 buyers access to experiences equivalent to being an F1 driver. Special events will be held at circuits across Europe where buyers will receive training from top drivers, including F1 veteran Jarno Trulli, as well as advice from mechanics, engineers, nutritionists and fitness experts.
The car has been designed in-house at Lotus' Hethel HQ without involvement from the Lotus Racing F1 team. Buyers will be able to paint it in any color or livery they want, including Lotus' iconic JPS, Camel and green and gold liveries.
Lotus claims the car will not require an army of mechanics and engineers to run and maintain and is able to be operated by just one person. This is also seen in the service intervals; it can run for 2,800 miles before it needs a trip back to Lotus' Hethel factory.
Lotus Motorsport's Stephen Wright said, “It's very easy to run and maintain. It has a starter motor so you can run it yourself. It's a fantastic opportunity for a very lucky band of individuals who purchase the car.”
The first 10 deliveries are expected by April 2011. It will be built at Hethel.