Lotus Exige Convertible review (2000-2012)
Any version guarantees an intense, racecar-like driving experience in a way no other road car can. That's what makes it so brilliant.
For those Lotus enthusiasts who can't wait for the replacement Esprit, or just want a harder, faster more focussed track-biased version of the Elise then Lotus has released the second generation Exige. A coupe version of the fantastic Elise handling is just as sharp as its open relative, but with additional wings and a front splitter helping push the Exige onto the road grip levels are astonishing. Part of that can be attributed to the unique, near slick tyres that the Exige wears, normally such extreme rubber making things impossible in the wet but somehow the Exige remains faithful rather than scary. That's part of the appeal of this car over its sometimes raw predecessor, although you know it'll deliver knockout performance on a track the road driving experience is slightly less extreme.
The standard car is powered by the same revvy Toyota 1.8-litre engine that's also fitted in the 111R Elise. It's a quick car. That's despite just 189bhp being on offer, underlining the Exige's light weight. To get the best of it you need to push that engine hard, it offering real shove in the upper reaches of the rev-range, making it an involving, if somewhat frenetic drive. And if you thought that was quick... Lotus also offers a supercharged version of the same engine, which punches out 240bhp. It's offered in Cup 240 trim, which comes in 'road' and 'track' formats, the latter with a full roll cage, fire extinguisher and 4-point harness. Pace is electrifying - 0-60mph in around four seconds is real Ferrari-beating pace. The 'track' Exige is the most extreme of a pretty extreme range. Any version guarantees an intense, racecar-like driving experience in a way no other road car can. That's what makes it so brilliant.