New & Used Lotus Exige: In Depth
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The Lotus Exige was built on the foundations of the lightweight, nimble, and scalpel-precise Elise, intended to add to the Elise's heady mix of smile-inducing mid-engined balance, light weight, and raw simplicity with the bouquet of an additional hunk of horsepower thanks to a more powerful engine.
The Exige met its targets. The first version of the Exige, like that of the Elise, wasn't officially sold in the United States. The Exige S did make it to America, however, bringing with it a 220-horsepower Toyota-sourced but Lotus-improved engine, when it arrived at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. Europeans and much of the rest of the world continued to get the best of the Exige, however, with a 240-horsepower 240R version offered in a limited run of just 50 units.
While the Exige offered more power than the Lotus, it didn't go any further in the area of creature comforts. The cabin of the Exige was still a very minimalist affair, with bare metal and lightly upholstered surfaces throughout. Exiges were only ever offered with manual transmissions.
Lotus being a motorsports company as well as a car manufacturer, many special-edition, concept cars, and race cars were built based on the Exige, including a GT3 race car, an Exige Cup car (road legal in many parts of the world, with an extra 20 horsepower available), and the Exige Club Racer, another road-legal car built for the truly hardcore track enthusiast. In March of 2008, a special concept built as a research vehicle by Lotus Engineering was shown to the world, dubbed the Exige 270E. Building on the same tri-fuel concept as the earlier 265E, the 270E was capable of burning gasoline, ethanol, and methanol. Other special-edition cars included the Exige Scura, wearing a unique rubberized matte black exterior finish, and the Exige RGB Special Edition, based on the Exige Cup 260, a 260-horsepower version of the supercharged four-cylinder Exige.
Many of these cars were only offered outside the U.S. due to the stop of sales after a change in U.S. airbag regulations made the Exige unable to meet mandatory safety requirements in August, 2011.
But the biggest leap forward in the Exige's timeline was the introduction of the V-6-powered model at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. The new V-6-powered Exige S rated 345 horsepower from a supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine, and tipped the scales at just 2,380 pounds, the Exige S was a brutally quick, incredibly focused sports car. It was about 200 pounds heavier than the earlier four-cylinder Exige, true, but the extra horsepower more than made up for that difference.
The new V-6 engine, also used in the Evora S, enabled the Exige S to hit 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 170 mph.