Lotus Goes Loco : Lotus Exige S Performance Package [Review]

Car Specifications
Engine: 
1796cc, 16-valves, supercharged
Cylinder Layout: 
In-line 4
Top Speed: 
248km/h
Transmission: 
6-speed Manual
0-100km/h: 
4.2 seconds
Power: 
243bhp at 8000rpm
Torque: 
230Nm at 5500rpm

After having successfully developed the wild and wacky Lotus 2-Eleven Lotus were keen to exploit the possibilities of what it had garnered from that project. The recipient is the Exige S. The closed coupe body of the Exige is of course heavier but Lotus realizes that it is far more marketable compared to the completely topless 2-Eleven.

 

Since the Exige at 875 kg is about as light as it can reasonably be, the only other way to a higher performance plane is to work on its power. Lotus decided to improve the power of the standard 220 bhp Exige S with some of what they used during the Exige GT3 racing program.

Pumping out another 23 bhp the engine reaches 243 bhp, a corollary of a Magnuson/Eaton M62 supercharger with a high-torque clutch, high flow injectors and a larger hood scoop that makes most of the high pressure area at the top of the windscreen.

Together with the power hike comes a new torque peak of 230 Nm at 5500 rpm, some 15 Nm more than before. With the newfound urge the Exige S flashes past 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and in 9.9 seconds crosses 160 km/h with progress only halting at 248 km/h.

To handle the extra power, an uprated clutch and its damper are employed with a minimal increase in pedal effort. Larger 308mm cross-drilled front disc brakes provide greater stamina and the caliper is a four-pot AP Racing item clamping through higher temp brake pads. Steel braided steel hoses give the brake pedal a very firm linear feel even when one stands hard on the middle pedal especially useful during trackdays.

Understandably with the added power, it is easy to burn expensive Yokohama rubber during take-off, the quasi-racing compound Advan A048 notwithstanding. To curb this Lotus also offers their variable LTC (Lotus Traction Control), which as its name suggests is user variable in terms of electronic intervention. It can also be switched off for those who prefer living on the edge. Integrated together with this is a simple launch control system (called LLC or Lotus Launch control).

For competition starts, one can pre-select the launch rpm and when one steps on the gas pedal the revs hold at the selected rpm. Then one simply drops the clutch and the rears light up momentarily but once it hits about 10 km/h, LTC takes over and controls wheelspin by curtailing power until traction is regained.

This results in an Exige that challenges the 2-Eleven’s superiority. The straight-line grunt from the compressor fed Toyota derived engine is similar though the lighter 2-Eleven is clearly quicker. However without the distraction of the swirling wind and bugs hitting the helmet visor, the cockpit of the Exige seems serene in comparison and makes it easier to focus on the cornering lines and braking points. Grip from the sticky Advan A048s is immense and the steering loads up in corners quite dramatically.

Being so intimately ensconced in the Exige one almost melds with the machine and can feel every nuance the chassis is going through, unfortunately not all the transmitted information is useful as the Exige painfully reveals the road texture and all its blemishes. Still thanks to the unassisted rack there is no other steering with this much information.

If one is not attempting a time attack at Sepang, the power gain is less useful but the well judged brakes and grippy Yokos still pay huge dividends. The pert dimensions of the Exige is a huge advantage when covering country roads in a hurry as no matter how narrow the roads are, one seems to be able to carve out a cornering line rather than to merely following the width of the road.

Being just about the smallest vehicle on the highways makes it less pleasant an environment hence the Exige is clearly in its element on British B-roads and no doubt the roads that surround Hethel have given all Lotuses their unique character. For those who covet the 2-Eleven but cannot bear the vagaries of the open cabin, the Exige S Performance Package is as close as it gets to lightweight motoring heaven.

SPECIFICATIONS


ENGINE
CAPACITY : 1796cc, Supercharged
CYLINDER LAYOUT : In-line 4-cylinder
VALVES : 16 valves, DOHC
BORE X STROKE : 82x85mm
COMPRESSION RATIO : 11.5:1
MAXIMUM POWER : 243 bhp at 8000 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE : 230 Nm at 5500 rpm

TRANSMISSION
TYPE : 6-speed manual
DRIVEN WHEELS : RWD

PERFORMANCE
TOP SPEED : 248 km/h
0-100KM/H : 4.2 seconds

SUSPENSION
FRONT : Double wishbones
REAR : Double wishbones

BRAKES
FRONT : 308mm ventilated discs
REAR : ventilated discs

TYRES
TYPE : Yokohama Advan A048
SIZE : f: 195/50 R 16, r:225/45 R 17

SAFETY
ABS : Yes
AIRBAGS : Yes
TRACTION CONTROL : Yes

MEASUREMENTS
LENGTH : 3785mm
WIDTH : 1505mm
HEIGHT : 1160mm
WHEELBASE : 2300mm
KERB WEIGHT : 875-kg
TURNING CIRCLE : 10.9m
 

Summary
Keen to spread the 2-Eleven experience, Lotus has endowed the Exige S with 243bhp, which makes an already great car scarily fast. The extra power will come handy around the Sepang Circuit and in pub 'pissing contests'. However, in town the extra plumbing blocks rearward vision and the added power doesn't necessarily beat a standard 220bhp Exige in daily commutes. But it will garner serious respect amongst the cognoscenti- AL
Photos: 
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