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Handbook: Lotus Exige S Roadster

Time 12:00 pm, December 12, 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 15.34.56THE British firm has lopped the roof off its Exige and created an open-top model. But does it still excite? Leon Poultney finds out.

What is it?

Picture the Exige range as the angry brother of the little Elise. This new roadster version of the Exige S certainly looks like it means business – with the massive rear wing removed, it appears longer, more taut and beefier at the rear. It’s very pretty.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Exige S houses a screaming supercharged Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 that sits slap bang in the middle of the vehicle. The powerplant performs brilliantly and sounds incredible, the V6 grumbling and barking on the overrun and revving to well over 7000rpm. The lack of roof only heightens the sensation of sprinting from a standstill to 60mph in just 3.8 seconds as the V6 screams through the rev range.

What’s the spec like?

In short, completely and utterly abysmal. The Lotus Exige S Roadster’s biggest downfall is its lack of basic equipment. The car costs £52,900 in its standard form and that sort of money doesn’t even buy you air conditioning. Don’t even get us started on the stereo – it’s a basic Alpine unit that looks like it has been rescued from a Halfords bargain bin – and then there’s the £350 for a cupholder, a USB socket and possibly the trickiest cruise control known to man.

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 15.29.48What’s it like to drive?

Completely fantastic in every way. The Lotus offers old school driving thrills like very little else on sale today. The steering is completely unassisted, the suspension set-up is extremely well judged. It is a track day weapon that, despite the insane road and wind roar, is actually surprisingly comfortable on longer journeys.

What do the press think of it?

Top Gear Magazine said: ‘It may not be a great leap forward, but it broadens the Exige’s repertoire and has enough talent and ability to tempt buyers who previously wouldn’t have considered a Lotus, let alone an Exige.’

What do we think of it?

The Exige S frustrated us a lot because we wanted to fall madly in love with it. It looks fantastic and draws all of the right attention from passers-by. It handles only like a Lotus can and the V6 provides endless hours of hilarity as you wind on the power. But it is way too expensive, doesn’t offer the comfort or everyday usability of a Porsche and presents potential customers with a long list of compromises. There’s no room in the boot, passengers will quickly tire of clambering over the enormous door sills, you can’t see out of the back, parking it is a pain and the road noise hurts. But there’s no denying it remains a model that offers the thrill of driving like few others on the market.


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