2000 mini concept
The name Lotus has also had a certain cachet among automotive aficionados, and last year’s introduction of the Elise roadster put the British brand within reach of a broad audience of American sports car fans. For 2007, Lotus is adding this new fastback. At $56,990, it’ll set you back another $8000, but with its new, supercharged engine, stiffer suspension, and high-performance aerodynamics, the Exige S is likely to gain even more traction for Lotus in a market it long has coveted.
TheCarConnection.com jumped at the opportunity to test out the mid-engine sports car a few weeks back, spending a day driving it along the open roads of Nevada, as well as an afternoon on the demanding, South Road Course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
No commuter car
But if you’re willing to ante up for some yoga lessons, and don’t mind the little Lotus’s rough ride and brutal noise levels, you may just be ready to fall in love.
of the new machine is a supercharged, 1.8-liter four that has been sourced from,
of all places,
2000 Chrysler minivans
Now add the fact that Lotus engineers, in keeping with one of the company’s prime directives, have kept weight to a minimum. All that extra hardware has resulted in a car weighing in at 2077 pounds, a modest 62 more than the Elise. Do the math and you’ll come up with an imposing power to weight ratio. If that isn’t impressive enough, consider that the S will shoot from 0-60 in a blistering 4.1 seconds, with 0-100 times coming in at around 11 seconds.
All about the handling
Of course, as anyone who drove the Elise quickly realized, the little roadster was about far more than straight-line acceleration. That’s even more the case with the Exige S, with its track-inspired suspension and aerodynamics.
The missile-like shape of the Exige’s body may be eye-catching, but it’s also quite functional. The goal is to not only cheat the wind by reducing drag, but also to use aerodynamics to maximize grip. The composite rear wing and rear diffuser contribute much of the car’s nearly 100 pounds of downforce. A small scoop, mounted at the front of the sloping engine cover, funnels air back to the intercooler.
We drove both the standard suspension and the more aggressive and adjustable Track Package. For anyone looking to maximize the thrills of their Exige, we’d suggest considering the optional suspension, with its impressive Bilstein shocks and five-way adjustable front sway bar. But unless you’re an autocrosser, avoid the limited-slip differential.
2000 Chevrolet Avalanche and Pontiac Aztek
Steering is unboosted, but given the layout and light weight of the Exige S, you’re likely not to even notice. The overall feel is point-and-shoot. It’s uncannily easy to guide the little sports car around even the tightest corners, and even the most off-camber turns do little to challenge the car’s single-minded determination.
Acceleration is matched by the Exige’s stopping power: four 11.5-inch, vented, cross-drilled discs provide pleasantly predictable and linear braking.
An exercise in minimalism
The two-seater’s cockpit is an exercise in minimalism. There’s a handsome wheel that’s also just right to the touch. The appointments are mostly functional aluminum, with a sort of stripped-down aerospace feel. Niceties are at a minimum, there’s a radio, but no cupholders, and you can even opt out on air conditioning should you desire to shave even more weight.
2000 Jaguar F-type concept
The seats are designed to hold you firmly in place, yet they proved surprisingly comfortable, even after a long day of street and track driving.
We’re used to sacrificing even the bare essentials for the thrill of a sports car, but we were pleased to discover that Lotus actually found room to engineer into the Exige a modest four cubic feet of trunk space.
For those who find it a challenge
to slip into a conventional sedan, don’t even consider the Exige S. You’re going
to spend too much time driving over to your chiropractor. But if you don’t mind
the challenge getting in-and-out, the harsh ride and ear-splitting engine roar,
Lotus’s little offering is an impressive package. It’s quick, great fun to
drive, and is certain to make a visual impression. We expect the Exige S to add
to the momentum of the Elise ragtop and firmly plant Lotus as a fixture in the
2007 Lotus Exige S
Engine: Supercharged 1.8-liter in-line four, 220 hp/165 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height:
149.5 x 68.0 x 45.8 in
Wheelbase: 90.6 in
Curb weight: 2077 lb
Fuel economy: 25 mpg combined.
Major standard features: Air conditioning; power windows and locks; AM/FM/CD; keyless remote; cruise control
Safety features: Anti-lock brakes; dual front airbags
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles