The Exige — a chunky in-your-face coupe version of the successful Elise roadster — made its first appearance in 2000. This mid-engined sports car was powered by a tuned 1.8 litre Rover engine, replaced by a Toyota power plant when the Exige Series 2 came along in 2004. Development continued apace after the Exige was introduced to North America at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2006.
Lotus soon announced that an Exige S (for ‘Supercharged’) model would be offered, with a stonking 240 bhp, allowing this lightweight to offer a potent mix of pace and sure-footed handling unmatched by anything in the price range. Rapid acceleration, superb roadholding and the ability to top 150 mph (241 km/h) make this the ideal choice for the sporting driver who likes to combine track days with scorching open-road performance — though it should be noted that this is not a docile beast that will happily plod through city traffic on a daily commute but, rather, a high-spirited thoroughbred that’s born to run.
The Exige falls smack-bang in the ‘sporty driver’s car’ category. The S’s slick six-speed gearbox is teamed with an engine that just gets better as the revs rocket, with variable valve timing kicking in around 6,000 rpm to boost power. Sharp steering and adhesive cornering —even in wet conditions — are outstanding.
This isn’t an uncomfortable car, though small and low to the ground, but it requires a certain eel-like ability to get in through fairly narrow doors. Once there, ProBax seats are supportive and there’s a pretty good level of trim — including aluminium knobs and passenger footrest, Blaupunkt CD player, remote central locking and an immobilizer cure alarm.
The Exige S has come in various editions — British GT, Touring, Performance and Performance Sports. They all go like the wind!
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1,796 cc DOHC Straight Four
S Performance models — top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
No manufacturer likes buyers marching off with the base model, so the Exige can be upgraded with an alluring Touring Pack (electric windows, full leather, carpeting) or Super Touring Pack (plus airbags, leather gearshift knob, trinket tray, cup holder). The Sport and Super Sport Packs add performance enhancements like traction control and improved suspension.