Ignore the lack of creature comforts on Lotus's 2-Eleven and you'll enjoy the performance of supercars that cost four times as much
Lightweight cars are what Lotus does best, and the 2-Eleven is well engineered and great fun to drive. With its adjustable traction control set-up, simple maintenance and minimal body panels, it has been designed to offer exactly what track-day customers need. If you ignore the lack of creature comforts, it brings a smile on the road, too. It's not cheap, but does provide the performance of supercars that cost four times as much.
Right from its humble beginnings, Lotus has never lost sight of founder Colin Chapman's key philosophy: 'performance through light weight'.
And it's an adage the firm's engineers have always followed - right up to the launch of its latest supercar.
However, the new 2-Eleven takes Chapman's message to the extreme. Based on the Elise's bonded aluminium chassis, it has lightweight body panels, while the roof and screen are sacrificed in the name of saving kilos.
Powered by the same 1.8-litre supercharged Toyota engine that's found in the Exige S, the 2-Eleven has a 252bhp output and tips the scales at only 745kg. On the road, performance is sensational. With the supercharger offering power all the way through the rev range, the Lotus is much more driveable than some other road-legal track-day cars - and that's thanks to the versatility of the four-cylinder engine.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, and all the controls have the precise action that you would expect to find in other Elise variants. But it's the ride and handling which make the 2-Eleven so special.
The newcomer shares the razor-sharp steering and finely tuned chassis of the Elise and Exige. You can literally feel every last imperfection in the road's surface through the aluminium underpinnings. This is a track-day machine that everyone should love to own - no matter what their level of motoring experience.
At the heart of this broad appeal is Lotus's extremely clever adjustable traction control system, which allows you to increase or decrease the level of assistance to match your ability and the weather conditions. To bring extra performance for a spell on the race track, the system even includes a launch control programme.
It might lack basic comforts such as a screen, heater or roof, but the 2-Eleven is a truly involving driver's car. It feels totally at home on the track, yet still offers enjoyment on the public highway. There are two versions: the roadgoing model gets two seats, lights and a catalyst, while the track car features a bigger carbon rear wing, a lower front splitter and a six-point safety harness for the driver.
Both come in at the same price of £39,995, so they're far from cheap. But with the roads becoming more congested and the competitive track-day market growing around the world, the Lotus 2-Eleven is sure to be desirable - especially as the Norfolk firm plans to build only 100 examples a year.