Lotus did it again. The success of the multi award winning model Elise spurred the manufacturers to roll out a concept car in the Birmingham International car show held in NEC in 1998. Car lovers went mad over it and seeing the more than positive response, the car was on to the production lines, ready to be driven after intense design and engineering, in February 2000. Christened as 340R for the power to weight reduced i.e. nearly 340bhp/ton. Of the many firsts from Lotus, 340R definitely takes the crown. More of a purists car, Lotus has challenged the car world with a daredevil attitude, having no doors, windows, boot or any frills and fancies, but just ensuring an exhilarating driving experience that can thrill any driver. As the paper reports say,’this car is pure indulgence and if you want a mad car, you might as well have the maddest’! 340 also refers to the limited number of cars produced so the race for owning one can be left to one’s imagination. As for the price the showroom figure was fixed at $51,300, but as it is very rare in the U.S., and ads declare that just a website earns its owners $5000 a day, the demand is sure to be more than just a hefty figure.
The 1.8L engine is a very high performance derivative (VHPD) K series engine, housing a line up of 4 cylinders with 16 valves churning out 177 bhp at 7800 rpm and torque of 172 Nm at 6750 rpm. With a 5 speed manual transmission, this monster races by at a speed of 209 km/hr and accelerates from 0 - 100 in 4.5 seconds effortlessly, built purely for undiluted driving pleasure and fun. The car being light is extremely responsive and ready to zip at the slightest touch.
The simplistic design of the interior is breathtaking. There is no console housing innumerable controls. There are just two analog dials behind the powerful steering wheel. No air-conditioning, climate control, audio system, ABS or other computer aided systems clutter the dashboard. The pleasure of pure driving is blatant from the exquisite design of the interior. Most of the inside parts are made from carbon fiber with two firm and contoured seats that can keep you seated. The absence of a roof and doors makes it absolutely exposed to the vagaries of the weather. But these disadvantages vanish from the mind because of its racetrack, inviting look.
The exterior could be described as aluminium chassis with fiber-glass body and lookswise, a racing tracks car. But this description just cannot justify the out-of-the-world thrill it exudes from even ordinary on-lookers.In an age where cars were getting more and more bulky with extra fittings, Lotus produced Elise without any fancy trappings that kept its weight at 690 kg. With the 340R, Lotus went a step further and scooped out curves and parts to make it an incredible 500 kgs.But the most unique feature is the ultra light magnesium wheel with super sticky A038 R tires that are specially made for this car with the collaboration of Yokohama.The cross drilled steel discs for the brakes are heavy but functionally sensational.The front broad spoiler was fitted for safety regulations and aerodynamics and a dramatic rear spoiler for stability.Carbon fiber mudguards frame the unique wheels. The whole chassis is one integrated shell which can be lifted to access the engine and other mechanical parts.