The latest generation Lotus Exige S gets a supercharged V6 engine and mini-supercar styling.
What is it?
New, wider, longer, V6-powered Lotus Exige that feels like a mini supercar.
Supercharged 3.5-litre engine aside (which comes from the Evora S) the biggest piece of technological trickery is the new Dynamic Performance Management system. DPM is Lotus's version of ESP with Touring, Sport, Race and Off being the settings. It is capable of both curbing understeer and also optimising traction out of corners (there's no limited-slip diff) and it can even learn which tyres you're using – Pirelli P Zero Corsas are standard, Trofeos an £800 option – by calculating slip. There will be a more in-depth analysis of DPM in next month's evo magazine (issue 171), on sale in May.
What's it like to drive?
Brilliant. The supercharged V6 makes a world of difference to the character of the car. It's a stunningly strong engine and throttle response is scintillating, no matter where you are in the rev range. Even in sixth gear on the motorway the Exige will leap forwards eagerly at the slightest prod and on an A- or B-road it is as fast as you could realistically want.
The quicker steering is exactly what you would expect from Lotus – full of feel and it dances in your hands as the car follows the cambers of the road. With a heavier mid-mounted engine you might expect the Exige to feel tricky on the limit, but on wet roads it would swing progressively either with a lift or by keeping your foot in. It was easy to catch too, which is not something you could say of the old four-cylinder car. The Sport setting on the DPM was perfectly judged on the road, allowing an interesting amount of slip before reigning things back in beautifully calmly. Last but not least, the new V6 sounds great – there's something of the historic racecar about its rich growl and there's no overpowering supercharger whine either.
How does it compare?
At £52,900 it is a chunk more expensive than the previous Exige, but this new car is a much more serious proposition. The closest obvious competitor is a Cayman R. You'll lose out on creature comforts compared to the Porsche, but the Lotus is nearly a second quicker to 60mph (3.8sec versus 4.7sec).
Anything else I should know?
The one and only real down side to the Exige is that getting in and out remains a real palaver – the sill is high and wide and Yoga classes may need to be booked to achieve the necessary levels of flexibility.