"Channel 4" Car Review of S2 Exige - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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"Channel 4" Car Review of S2 Exige

http://www.channel4.com/4car/road-te.../exige04-.html

Assets
Brilliant handling and steering, strong performance, great engine, race-car looks, well-engineered, should retain its value, low(ish) running costs

Drawbacks
A bit noisy, gearshift could be better, not much else

Verdict
One of the best driver's cars around. We'd have one.

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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INTRODUCTION

Small ones are more juicy
Lotus' Exige is a coupé based on its popular Elise roadster. Now in its second generation, it has changed from being K-Series-powered, and gets a 1.8-litre Toyota VVT-i engine, from the Corolla and Celica T-Sport. Using this engine, which develops 189bhp, has also allowed Lotus to sell the Elise in the US market.


The original S1 Exige was developed for the road from the Elise Sport racing cars, and used a highly-tuned version of Rover's K-Series engine, putting out 177bhp. A kit to raise power to 190bhp was optional, though, and most owners bought it. The latest car is even quicker than the souped-up S1, straight out of the box.


That's not only down to the engine, but to a raft of mechanical changes too. The latest bodywork produces worthwhile downforce (41kg at 100mph), 95 percent of the chassis has changed since the original and the superb, sticky A048 tyres have been specifically developed for this car. Although developed with track use in mind, unlike many track-day specials, the Exige performs brilliantly on the road, too.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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DRIVING RATING: 5 stars


Well, it should get five stars really, shouldn't it? That being the whole point of the car... But even if you're expecting it to be good, the Exige's level of ability might come as a surprise. It's not the power - plenty, but not at the level which takes your breath away - or the throttle response - good, but not exceptional. Nor is it the strong and progressive brakes; these get servo assistance for the first time, which makes initial pedal feel a bit soft and makes arching your foot for heel-and-toe gearshifts a bit tricky. That gearshift, incidentally, while accurate enough, and fairly short-throw, is nothing to write home about. No, these elements all fairly conventional, normal even.


It's the steering and the sensational chassis that make the Exige such great fun to drive. Even if the Exige had a normal car's power-assisted steering, you'd be aware that it's a keyed-to-the-tarmac sports car with tenacious grip in dry or even damp conditions. You'd feel the excellent body control, a tiny bit of roll and body settle as you turn into a corner, and a reassuring ability to soak up mid-corner bumps and ruts. And you'd also know about the ability to adjust the car's line with throttle or steering.


The non-assisted steering set-up helps you feel precisely what is going on beneath the wheels. Like most tyres, the fronts aren't particularly interested when they hit standing water but, when they aquaplane, you feel every minutiae of grip change through the steering, and then again the moment that normal service is resumed. And although the Exige's steering is the best this side of a Caterham or a kart, it doesn't kick back harshly, though it writhes gently on poor road surfaces and on sharp camber changes, but that's okay, just let the rim slip through your fingers. There's a tangible, delicate precision to it, and that's what separates the Exige from bigger, ham-fisted pseudo-sports cars. It might not be the quickest way to get from point A to point B (though, unless you're in something extremely special, it probably will be), but it's one of the most rewarding.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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PERFORMANCE RATING: 5 stars


Toyota's 1.8-litre VVT-i engine is a screamer, revving to 8,500rpm and with a real top-end kick at about 6,200 as the valve-timing changes. That transition is less marked in the Exige than in Toyota's Celica or Corolla T-Sport models, however. Lotus has knocked back the effect because the Exige is so light there's no need for an extra shove to make it feel like it's going quicker. The company fits its own air-box and stainless steel exhaust, and the power delivery is more linear than in the Toyota, plus more flexible than a highly-tuned K Series. You can leave it in fourth through villages, yet still get forceful acceleration when the road opens up again.


The engine's noise isn't quite as characterful as the growling K-Series; it's a bit more mechanical at lower revs but there's a proper spiteful brap at the top end. The gearbox is a six-speed unit, also taken straight from Toyota, though with specially picked gear ratios, and Lotus's own gear linkages. Shift quality is one of the weaker aspects of the car; the linkage's console wobbled a bit on our test car and the shift, although accurate, isn't quite as positive or slick as we'd like.


Stats say 0-60mph takes 4.9secs - though one Australian magazine has managed 4.7 - 0-100mph takes 13.2, and top whack is 147mph; the latter's down 3mph from the previous car but the S2 Exige generates proper downforce, explaining the difference. The Exige is Euro IV emissions compliant, produces 208g km of CO2 and, because it's a light car with a small engine, returns an impressive 32mpg over the combined cycle.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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SAFETY AND SECURITY RATING: 4 stars


Neither Exige nor Elise have been assessed by independent crash testers EuroNCAP but we suspect they'd get a pretty good score. Light vehicles tend to fare well in single-vehicle crashes, because there is less force involved in the impact. (When crashing into a bigger, heavier car, compatibility comes into play, which is where heavy vehicles do better.)


Beneath the Exige's body, there are deformable composite crash structures at the front and rear, and suspension components are also designed to fail before the car's bonded aluminium chassis sustains any damage. Which is just as well, because damaging that could prove expensive.


ABS anti-lock brakes are standard on the Exige, and all Toyota-engined Elises. And it's a very good system, too. Because all these models have the same outside tyre diameter, the ABS can be set up with a very close tolerance, unlike on a car with optional wheel sizes, where it'd have to cut in a bit sooner to allow for different wheel rotation. According to Lotus, in the dry the tyres will squeal before the system cuts-in, which makes it good for the track, too. The company knows that some purist owners will try to disable the system, but they won't stop any quicker if they do, even on a high-grip dry track.


By virtue of having a hard-top, the Exige is more secure than an Elise, and also gets central locking as standard. We'd still recommend an alarm and perhaps a vehicle tracking system, too.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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RUNNING COSTS RATING: 3.5 stars


Insurance will be the biggie: this is a car with supercar performance, after all. Depreciation is likely to be very low, though - good S1 Exiges still fetch up to £25,000. And other running costs aren't too bad. Because it's a light car, fuel economy is over 30mpg and, even with track use, wear and tear shouldn't be too harsh. The Yokohama tyres with their hand-cut look have been specifically developed for the Exige but tyres of this type, in our experience, aren't prohibitively expensive. The engine should be bombproof, too.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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COMFORT AND EQUIPMENT RATING: 2.5 stars


The biggest plus point in terms of comfort is that the seats are brilliantly supportive, and the driving position is low-slung but comfy. The small steering wheel would benefit from reach adjustment, though. The ride quality isn't too bad for a lightweight sportster, and the suspension softens the edge off of bumps, despite its race-car credentials and Lotus' continued stiffening of the suspension.



Noise is the major concern. There's a lot of it - from the road, engine and wind. Even on the slowest setting, the fan motor whines a bit too, but you can't really hear it once you're underway. On our test example, the roof squeaked at its front mounts, too, consistently on both sides. Imagine sitting in a room full of guinea pigs...


Equipment levels have been icnreased since the last model. There's ABS, for a start, which is welcome, and you won't notice it until you need it. The optional Touring Pack, meanwhile, also includes electric windows, carpets, DAB radio, sun-visors, alcantara trim and an interior stowage net, for around £1800. The Performance Pack, unavailable with the Touring Pack, gets sports seats with four-point harnesses, a cross bar, carbon-effect inserts and twin oil coolers. Air conditioning is also available, and is an option we'd recommend.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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A look inside and out

Looks the part Although the Exige looks different enough from the Elise to class it as a different model, the visual changes are actually fairly minimal. There's different bodywork at the rear of course, to allow for the engine cover, and there's that big wing plus changes to some air-vents. But the normal soft-top roof is just replaced by a bolt-on hard-top. Given the right tools you could probably even take it off yourself.

Weight gain Quoted weight for the Exige is 875kg. Given the first Elise was quoted at 695kg, that might seem like a lot. However, the way weights have been measured has changed recently, it used to be Dry Weight, now it's Kerb Weight, which includes fluids (sensibly enough). Fact is that current Exiges/Elises weigh about 100kg more than the originals.

All change please The mechanical differences between Series 1 and Series 2 Exiges are huge. Around 95 percent of the chassis has changed, including the tub. The carry-over five percent is the steering rack.

Chill out The optional air-conditioning system weighs around 15kg. Really, that's not the sort of weight that you'll notice when it comes to performance, and as for air-con systems nicking valuable horsepower? Well, this one shuts-off when 95 percent throttle is applied, so it doesn't even effect flat-out performance.

Putting a damper on things Lotus is a world leader in suspension and damping technology. It's the only OEM which understands dampers to such an extent that Lotus' own engineers can pick and choose which dampers it uses, including the internal components. Around 100 different types were tried during the Exige's development, and after the first ten, there was only a five or six percent change in damping forces over the next 90 iterations, but internal components were changed. The damper supplier isn't allowed to just adjust pre-load so that their dampers meet Lotus' specifications, either. Each damper has got to be spot-on from the start.

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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Optional Equipment

Touring pack Two option packs are available on the Exige. Both come in at a shade under £1800, and you can't have both.

The Touring pack gets:
Electric windows (which don't add much weight)
Full carpet set with aluminium passenger footrest
Blaupunkt digital radio with CD-R/W and MP3 player (believed to be the first available as OEM fitment)
Full alcantara trim (which is very nice, as it happens)
Sun visors
Interior stowage net

The Performance Pack
Sports seats with Exige logo on the backrest
4 Point Harnesses (for, ahem, track use only, the inertia reel belts remain too)
Cross bar
Acrylic capped door panels
Carbon effect door inserts
Twin oil coolers (standard in Asian and Australian market anyway)

#somethingwickedthiswaycomes... the new Origin Noble M and the Origin 7

Zenos E10S for Sale! www.zenosforsale.com

There are some very shady dealers in the Lotus business.

2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)
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