Lotus Exige - Used

Car Review

Lotus Exige Sport 380 Front Threequarter
Lotus Exige Sport 380 front
Lotus Exige Sport 380 Rear Threequarter
Lotus Exige Sport 380 rear
Lotus Exige Sport 380 Rear Wing
Lotus Exige Sport 380 Cockpit

THE Lotus Exige is the most marvellouly perfect fun car for the weekend or for a track-day enthusiast but its hard to live with every day.

Like the Elise on which its based, few cars come close to giving the same performance for your pound.

It is a car that can give a huge adrenalin rush at a prod of the right foot and dynamically everything else about it matches that immense urge.

Even the base model has 190bhp of Toyota-sourced 1.8-litre engine, which revs to over 8,000rpm and reels in the horizon like a fish on a line.

The S adds a supercharger to that, giving 220bhp from the same 1.8 and the 260 boosts that output to, yes you've guessed, 260bhp and adds ultra light weight, giving 0-60 miles an hour in a supercar-bashing 4.1 seconds.

And then there's the range topping V6 for those who want the ultimate a top speed of 170mph and zero to 60mph in just 3.8 seconds from a banshee wailing 3.5-litres with between 360 and 410bhp. It is even available as a roadster as well as a coupe.

Road holding and handling are sublime - right at the pinnacle of what can be achieved in a four wheeled road vehicle.

Corners can be taken unbelievably quickly in complete safety, with immense feedback from the non-powered and very direct steering and grip that seems to defy the laws of physics.

Obviously, this amazing handling comes with a compromise in the quality of the ride.

Earlier 190bhp models managed the road holding with reasonable comfort over fairly smooth surfaces.

But the higher powered versions make no compromise and the ride is bouncy unsettled and uncomfortable - even at times on a fairly smooth dual carriageway or motorway.

As I said, there is no power steering, so parking and low speed manoeuvres will build up your biceps.

And the noise level - with the engine just behind your left ear - is going to be hard to live with for some people. Even at low revs, the lack of soundproofing means you hear everything at full volume.

Visibility can be difficult too. The view from the interior mirror is minimal, the manual door mirrors help a little but the roof pillars leave big blind spots.

Entry and exit are tortuous and difficult, with a low aperture and a very wide sill, home comforts are few and far between and there is very little storage space or boot. And there is only enough room for two inside.

If a radio is fitted - and they weren't standard - the noise levels mean you're unlikely to be able to hear it.

Exiges hold their value very well, so be suspicious of any car that's being sold for less than market value and it is best to avoid any that have been modified.

Despite all the downsides, the Exige is one of the purest driving experiences on the planet and any enthusiast's perfect sportscar.

Pay about £21,400 for an '11 11-reg S with 190bhp, or £35,700 for an 15 15-reg V6 360 Cup.

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