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Lotus Exige S2 (2004 - 2012)

EX MARKS THE SPOT (some text hidden)


Introductionword count: 113

The Lotus Exige is what could be termed a Marmite car - you either love it or hate it. Many cannot see the appeal of a plastic bodied car with a 1.8-litre engine that costs quite so much and seems to offer so little capability. These people will never have felt steering lighten up as a car dances at the limit on a race track, nor will they have ever executed a perfect heel and toe gear change to leap flat on the gas again. If that is your thing, you'll get the Lotus Exige and appreciate where the money has been spent. Here's how to find a decent used Series 2 car.

Modelsword count: 21


Historyword count: 370

I must admit to being wholly disappointed when I first clapped eyes on the Exige S2. Whereas the S1 seemed pumped full of attitude and Tasmanian Devil testosterone, the Exige S2 was a slighter, dare I say more feminine looking thing. The intimidation factor seemed to have vanished but it didn't take long behind the wheel to figure out it was a markedly smarter and more capable car. The first examples landed in dealerships in May 2004, Lotus replacing the S1's lumpy K-series engine with a civilised 189bhp Toyota powerplant. Few thought this was all that Lotus had planned for the Exige and in 2005 a supercharged version was announced. The limited run 240R. Many buyers snapped these cars up, drawn by the promise of exclusivity but those who knew the car industry could predict what would come next. Sure enough, a productionised version of the supercharged Exige followed, dubbed the Exige S. With 240bhp on tap, it was fast enough to humble many quite serious Porsches and Ferraris. Since then there have been other specials such as the 2006 Sport Cup 240, the 2007 Cup 255 and the 2007 Exige S Britsh GT special Edition but to all intents and purposes, the Exige range hinges around two cars, the normally aspirated Exige and the supercharged Exige S. In 2006 Lotus launched two Touring packs that take the edge off the Exige's rawest qualities and two Sport packs that enhance this car's headbanger appeal. 2006 also saw Lotus introduce a number of detail improvements to the Exige including LED rear lights which are 36 per cent brighter than tungsten bulbs and illuminate 0.2 seconds quicker (or one Exige car length at just 43mph). The classy extruded aluminium pedals have been ditched in favour of steel items that are lighter. The pedal box was always the weakest point of the Exige, and it was unforgivable that in such a focused driver's car, it was often virtually impossible to execute a heel and toe downchange. With an electronic throttle, a reduced brake pedal ratio and a change in pedal positioning, the pedal box is now better suited to expert drivers. Plans for a manic 271bhp Exige GT3 special were announced in 2007.

What You Getword count: 217

Rather than getting mired in the detail changes of each and every Exige variant, let's focus on the common DNA that runs through every Exige S2. It's still a task to get in and out with any dignity, although a tip for prospective owners is to watch Lotus' test drivers in action and attempt to emulate their method for entering and exiting the cabin. The words 'sell out' initially flash across your mind as you take in the electric windows, carpets and stereo of the cars equipped with the Comfort Pack but even the most masochistic will appreciate these luxuries. There is a Performance Pack with carbon fibre bits, a harness and roll cage. Air conditioning is an option but it's well worth choosing, the Toyota engine doing a good job of basting the Exige's occupants. Compare the prices to other sports coupes and your first thought may well be that there's not a whole lot of car for the money, a decent Porsche Cayman costing about the same as an averagely specified Exige. It's certainly well into Porsche and BMW M territory and some of the interior fit and finish elements aren't what could best be described as top drawer. Nevertheless, the Exige still possesses the sort of exotic feel that escapes even the suave Porsche.

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Category: Sporting Cars

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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