Lotus Exige

Let's face it: while the Exige is a sports car enthusiasts' dream, it is not above criticism. For example, the 1.8-litre Toyota engine has to be worked very hard to enjoy the best of its performance. And despite those track car looks, the Lotus' chassis lacks the adjustability which circuit drivers crave.

The increased performance provided by the supercharger really suits the Exige's character and turns it into a genuine baby supercar. You might think that, at £43,995, the 240R is expensive, yet the limited edition sold out within days of its launch. Lotus needs to get the supercharger conversion on the Exige options list as soon as possible.

Let's face it: while the Exige is a sports car enthusiasts' dream, it is not above criticism. For example, the 1.8-litre Toyota engine has to be worked very hard to enjoy the best of its performance. And despite those track car looks, the Lotus' chassis lacks the adjustability which circuit drivers crave.

Now, the firm has found a way around the foibles by fitting a supercharger, to boost power from 189bhp to 243bhp. Along with other upgrades, this is aimed at making the limited-edition 240R the ultimate trackday car.

Its lowered suspension has adjustable dampers, while at the front the unique alloys are half-an-inch wider than the basic Exige's. There are also new race-spec brakes, plus a special oil pump to prevent the engine running dry during extreme cornering. The model does not lack luxury, though, as air-con and two-tone trim come as standard inside. But despite these touches, the 240R is clearly for hard driving. There is a real sense of occasion as you nestle into the sports seats, clip together the four-point harness, then fire up the engine.

At idle, the motor sounds more potent than the standard car's, helped by the whine of the supercharger mounted neatly on the engine behind you. The linear power delivery does not immediately give a sensation of explosive acceleration, but the extra low-down urge is both welcome and effective.

Use all 8,000rpm and the little Lotus delivers incredible pace, with a claimed 9.9-second 0-100mph time. It impresses with extraordinary grip, agility and ride quality, despite the firmer suspension. The sole downside to the 240R is that the company will build only 50 of them - and they are already sold. Still, Lotus' Sport division plans to offer the supercharger kit as an aftermarket option, making the Exige one of the cheapest ways into supercar ownership.

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