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Car review: Lotus Exige S

The Lotus Exige S: a car so magical that it'll deliver all you desire, writes motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay.

Lotus Exige S front

Have you ever thought about selling your soul to the Devil to obtain power, magnetism, and virtually anything else you ever dreamed of?

Well, I have news for you: forget negotiating any unholy contracts and go and visit Lotus instead.

There you'll find the Lotus Exige S: a car so magical that it’ll deliver all you desire - and you still get to keep your soul!

Okay, so you'll need to find more than £50,000 to buy a new one, but it'll be money well spent because this motor will also keep you feeling young. 

A 'giddy with excitement' drive

Maybe the base notes of oil, leather and general gluey perfume are something to do with the giddy-with-excitement sensation the Exige S conjures up.

Whatever the reason, it means you'll never have to bathe in the Fountain of Youth either.

However, I suspect there's a more earthly explanation for the Lotus' bewitching influence.

The sheer rush the Exige S gives you - along with the sweet symphony produced by its 3.5 V6 supercharged engine and tuneful tailpipes - is enough to enchant anyone.

Top performance and handling

My left-hand-drive demo model (though it's also available in right-hand drive as well) soon made me forget practicality.

You need to be a Limbo dancer to look stylish getting in and out of this low-slung brute.

The boot will take one bag and you'll only ever be able to carry one passenger at a time as it's a strict two-seater.

But who cares?

Lotus Exige S: Spec 

With a top speed of 170mph and a 0-62mph time of just four seconds, you're mainly buying this sports car for its performance and handling.

Well, maybe one more thing – ego. Everyone looks at you in the Lotus Exige S.

Lots of people will compliment you on having such a nice set of wheels.

And all and sundry, including the birds in the trees, will turn and stare the moment the Barry White-like bass tones reverberate around your neighbourhood when you start the engine.

The Exige S is like a wild animal. You have to tame it, and once it trusts you, confidence grows between man and machine.

Stupidly quick

You can be stupidly quick with it, so woe betide you if you get caught by the cops.

Lotus Exige S rear end shot

You also need to be careful if the road is greasy.

A a colossal amount of clout is put down through the rear wheels, and if there's no traction you might be seeing more trees than tarmac.

Nevertheless, it's really difficult to deny yourself the punch-in-the-chest feeling the Lotus delivers when you hit the gas hard.

Short bursts of speed, well within the legal limit, will give you enough of an adrenaline boost to last you all day, and winding country roads will show you how well the Exige S handles.

No power steering

The Lotus Exige S is awesome and serious fun - but without the modern day, taken for granted, power steering.

You'll feel every subtle difference in the road surface through the small, chunky leather-rimmed steering wheel.

And your day will be sunnier for simply having had a blast in the Norfolk-manufactured coupé.

So maybe put pen to paper with a Lotus dealer, but don't sign with the Devil – you'll look hot enough in the Exige S as it is.

Lotus Exige S: Pros & cons

  • Performance √
  • Excitement factor √
  • Looks √
  • Sound √
  • Licence-losingly quick X

Lotus Exige S: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 170 mph 
  • 0-62 mph: 4.0 secs
  • Combined mpg: 28.0
  • Engine: 3456 cc 24 valve supercharged V6 petrol
  • Max. power (bhp): 345 at 7000 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 295 at 4500 rpm
  • CO2: 236 g/km
  • Price: £52,900 on the road 

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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