Lotus Exige review
MY20 Lotus Exige 410 Sport
Story and pictures by Justin Goosen.
After 4 months of ownership, what’s the verdict?
Perhaps some back story to give perspective, keep in mind I’m not a professional journalist so this is my opinion on what it’s like to own a Lotus Exige. This is the third Lotus I have owned in a relatively short time period. First was a Silver Elise S2, second was a Red MY17 Elise 220 Sport and now the Exige 410. Stick in a Porsche Cayman somewhere in the middle for good measure, but that’s a story for another time.
Let us start with some of the fun stuff and have a look at a few of the Exige 410 key specifications & performance figures –
• Engine 3456cc (3.5L) Supercharged V6
• Power 305kW (410Hp) @ 7000rpm
• Torque 420Nm @ 3000-7000rpm
• Acceleration 3.4 s (0-100km/h)
• Tare Mass 1083 kg
• Power to Weight Ratio 281.6 kW/t
The performance figures are impressive but that is only part of what makes the Exige great. There’s also the fully adjustable Nitro suspension, Eibach adjustable anti-roll bars, lightweight forged alloy wheels, AP Racing high performance brakes and plenty of factory fitted carbon fibre bits which save weight and look fantastic. Other standard features include Cornering Brake Control (CBC), ABS and Lotus Dynamic Performance Management which includes the Traction Control and driving modes (Sport/Race).
Numbers are important but need to be understood to be appreciated, for example the torque figure (420Nm) is good but the way the engine delivers the torque from low in the rev range (3000rpm) makes all the difference. Couple that engine through a 6 speed manual transmission to a vehicle which only weighs 1100kg makes for some real fun. In order to quantify the power to weight ratio of 281.6 kW/t you would need to compare it to some serious vehicles, as an example if you had $350k plus to spend the Porsche 911 GT2 (997) power to weight ratio is 283 kW/t and 0-100km/h takes 3.7 seconds, let’s not talk about cost of ownership.
The new Exige is not cheap, priced from around $180k, now that’s A LOT of money but I think all vehicles are overpriced! In today’s age of electronics (control systems) and technology, vehicles have become too refined, too subdued, almost ‘too good’ if you will. The result is a loss of character, feeling and being connected to the machine. Lotus is renowned for their handling, analogue controls, mechanical steering and paired back approach to building vehicles, add a 400hp engine to the recipe and you get a wild beast that literally ‘snorts’ as you change gears at the rev limiter. Point the steering wheel, press the throttle pedal to the floor and hang on… Is it worth it? HELL YES!
So nothing could be perfect right? If I had to find faults with the vehicle, the glass between the cockpit and engine bay gets really hot and transfers the heat into the cabin so AC will be used regularly. Very limited space between the drive and passenger, the side mirrors are horrible, the internal controls (indicator/wiper) stalks are cheap, fixings (bolts/clips) that hold things together are crap. Do these things really matter? If they do, buy yourself a Porsche/BMW/Audi/Merc and enjoy your regular, boring, fanny pack mode of transportation ha ha.
So what is the Lotus then? “it’s a go cart for the road”, “it’s the most fun you can have on four wheels”, “it’s the thing you don’t need but damn you really want”.