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2007 Lotus Exige S - Just Driven

James Tate
Mar 26, 2007
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In the Exige S, everything that was raw about the Exige is accentuated. The onset of power, the torque, the whip of the needle across the tachometer. With that comes a more raw soundtrack. Gnashing mechanical sounds dominate the aural experience. Lotus may have crossed the line between 'streetable' and 'balls-out race car', but who cares? Lotus says the car will dash to 60mph in 4.1 seconds and do just shy of 150mph. Oh, and it'll return 29mpg on the highway.

The thing is screaming fast. The surge of torque is just right-not too little, not so much that the car gets out of shape on corner exit, despite not having a limited-slip diff (an option that Lotus doesn't recommend). Stand on the gas coming out of a corner and the revs will jump up to 4000 before you can think about modulating the pedal. Then you're at the redline. Over 90 percent of peak torque is available at 3500rpm. Oh well, maybe you'll get it on the next shift.

I have a tough time downshifting into third on corner approach. The gearbox could use some more precision. Nothing new here as the car keeps the same transmission and ratios (which, incidentally, now seem a perfect fit for a car that once felt as though you were waiting for something to happen for a few thousand rpm). The 1.8 now sounds like you're forcing it to do something it doesn't want to do. You are, I guess, forcing 7.25psi of compressed air down its throat. There's no goofing off anymore-you're either hauling ass, or you're parked.

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The Magnusson/Eaton blower strapped to the back of the block isn't the only reason the engine feels so responsive. The variable valve timing is now actually variable. It can be engaged anywhere from 4500 rpm to 6200 rpm, depending on load and throttle position, thanks to a new Lotus T4e control system. That's opposed to the NA Exige, that triggered the onset of VVT-i at 6200 rpm, like it or not. The engine remains unopened though, still sporting an 11.5:1 compression ratio. And contrary to forum mythology, the blower isn't a TRD piece.

A real car person can sit down and actually sign a piece of paper that waives the right to air conditioning, netting a weight saving of 22 pounds, as well as lightening the wallet by $250. You should do it, because the supercharger tacks on 62 pounds and it also sits behind the driver.

Even equipped with the track pack, the car can be lived with on the street. But I only say that because this is a magazine about modified cars and you likely have spring rates more than double those of any factory machine on your daily driver. Buy the Exige S and daily drive it. If it were me, I'd stick with the black accents of the 2006 NA model and the untainted roof scoop. But the car still looks like a miniature LeMans prototype and the epoxied-on addition to the roof scoop is what allows air to reach to the super-trick top-mounted intercooler.

Traction control is an option and it can be switched off, but it's so unobtrusive that it can usually be left on. Lotus likes to bring along its chief vehicle dynamics engineer, Matt Becker, to take journalists around the track at obscene speed and show us that any gripes we may have are merely a result of our crappy driving. This time, he demonstrates that the Exige is supremely adjustable and happy to dangle the tail out during cornering, despite its mid-engine configuration.

Inside, there's a really convenient rubberized iPod dock. There are a number of luxury items, such as leather and power windows, too. Nope, don't need those. Do you put a roll cage in your S-Class? The new headlights finally meet stringent US standards. That's to say: you don't feel like you're going to die during night driving anymore. They are totally different from the old units, so retrofitting won't be possible. Out back, a single oval tip exhaust replaces the dual pipes of the NA car. The dual pipes looked better.

The option you'll want to check is the 'track pack', which is a coilover setup from Bilstein, a five-way adjustable anti-roll bar and a harness bar. Whatever boxes you tick, it's on sale now and Lotus doesn't expect to build more than 400. If purist performance is your game, act now.

2007 LOTUS EXIGE S
Estimated Price $56,990
Engine Displacement/Type/Valvetrain 1796cc, horizontal DOHC 16-valve flat four, supercharged and intercooled
Claimed Crank HP 220hp @ 8,000rpm
Claimed Crank Torque 165 lb-ft @ 5,500rpm
Drivetrain/Layout/Transmission Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Curb Weight 2077 lb
Weight Distribution (F:R) 37:63
Suspension (Front/Rear) Upper and lower wishbone w/anti-roll bar (F)
Upper and lower wishbone w/anti-roll bar (R)
Brakes (Front/Rear) 11.5-in. vented discs/11.5-in. solid discs
Wheels (Front/Rear) 16x6.5/17x7.5 forged alloy
Tires (Front/Rear) 195/50R16 (F), 225/45R17 (R)
By James Tate
57 Articles

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