Lotus Exige - Used

Car Review

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

LIKE the Elise on which it's based, few cars come close to giving the same performance and thrills for your pound as the Lotus Exige.

And with the company now heading - like all the others - towards an electric only line-up, it will probably be the last of its type.

This is a car that can give a huge adrenalin rush at a prod of the right foot, and is just as sublime dynamically.

Roadholding and handling are truly amazing - 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.

I'm covering the earlier 1.8 models made until 2012 because so many are still on the road wit low mileages. Most have been little used and are well worth looking at.

After 2012, the superb 3.5-litre V6 was the only engine available and came in power outputs ranging from 350 to 430bhp.

Even the pre-2012 base model has 190bhp of Toyota-sourced 1.8, which revs to over 8,000 and reels in the horizon like a fish on a line.

It gets to 60 miles an hour from rest in just five seconds and can do 32 miles per gallon. Then comes the ‘S', which adds a supercharger to the 1.8, giving 220bhp, 4.2 seconds to 60 and 31mpg.

The 260 boosts that output to 260bhp, and adds ultra light weight, making it slightly quicker and giving a higher top speed.

The V6 takes things to another level with a top speed of 170mph, zero to 60 in just 3.8 seconds and a banshee wail of a soundtrack.

It's available as a roadster as well as a coupe and in 350bhp spec, covers the sprint in 3.8 seconds and can do 26mpg

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

Earlier 190bhp models managed reasonable comfort over fairly smooth surfaces.

But the higher powered versions offer 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's 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 in this strictly two seater, 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.

If a stereo is fitted - and they weren't standard on early models - 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 its 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 weekend sportscar.

Pay about £21,500 for an '11 11-reg S 220, or £48,100 for a 20 20-reg V6 350 Sport.

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