The Lotus Exige S2 – PP (Performance Pack)
Rolling back the clock its, 2008 Lotus are sensing a changing customer opinion, desire and need. The Europa didn’t fill the need of replacing the Esprit that many had grown up with and longed to one day own. Customers want a genuinely new Lotus, bigger and more powerful but still retaining the core Chapman values of low weight and intelligent use of materials.
Of course there’s another school of thought. One that suggests that the happy consequence of the lack of funds to create a new model line is that Lotus has honed what they do have to perfection (Remember its 2008, Lotus is not Geely owned). Just spend five minutes behind the wheel of the 2-Eleven for proof, they’d say. And they’re right – the 2-Eleven’s a triumph.
The option packages for the 2008 model Exige S were simplified, but the one you want to know about is the Performance Pack. Tick the relevant box and the Exige S gets serious. Power jumps to 240bhp, up from 218bhp and exactly the same as the limited-edition 240R. Bigger, 308mm discs and four-piston AP Racing brakes further focus the Exige for track use and the S also gains the clever variable-slip traction control from the 2-Eleven. It’s a neat system, allowing you to dial up the tolerance of slip from 1 through to 9 percent on the steering column-mounted dial; one last click and it turns off completely. A display on the dash tells you how much help you’re getting from the system.
A full-length roof scoop for the intercooler intake adds significantly to the Exige’s racer-for-the-road promise. But while the outside looks more uncompromising than ever, inside there are soft-touch materials on the dash and door cards as well as a new instrument cluster. Tight dimensions and the exposed aluminium tub will always mean the Exige S feels very specialist, but the ambience is certainly a bit more ‘luxurious’ than before.
The Exige S is still a proper sports car and all the better for it. You can feel it in the way it breathes with the road, in the detailed steering, the tight body control – and the performance. The four-cylinder supercharged Toyota engine is smooth yet ferocious, even if the fizzing metallic engine note is pretty nasty. Even using just 5000rpm, the Performance Pack-equipped Exige makes incredible progress, lunging between corners on a thick wodge of torque. Really delve into the full 8000rpm available and it’s clear that in terms of pure pace the Exige is now playing in the big league: according to the factory, 0-100kph takes just 4sec.
Of course it’s not the outright performance that counts, but what you can effectively deploy on the road. And here the Exige S is even more impressive. Traction is simply stunning and the speed you can carry into a corner takes serious mental adjustment. Even in the damp conditions in which we tested the Exige, the dry-weather-orientated Yokohama A048 tyres cut through the slime and had a tenacious hold on the surface, whether it was lumpy and pock-marked or smooth as a racetrack.
As with all Exiges, the real thrill of this car is the precision with which you can take apart any road. It’s so compact and so accurate that you never miss an apex, never feel compelled to back off simply because the road is narrowing or because the body is starting to float over suspension struggling to cope. You point, it turns; squeeze the throttle and the balance shifts according to your input, feather the brakes and the AP Racing callipers really wipe off speed – your every action is perfectly matched by the Exige S.
The Performance Pack simply ups the speed by 10 per cent or so. It doesn’t overwhelm the chassis at all, but it does tip the power-to-grip balance in your favour. And that means you really feel the benefit of the variable-slip traction control. Select 9 per cent slip and left it there – it gives you the most natural- feeling chassis but still provides a get-out-of-ditch-free card should you really overcook things. To be honest you rarely call on the traction control’s services on the road, such is the mechanical grip and traction, and if you do it’s a very subtle trimming of your throttle rather than an obvious and frustrating stutter. Be warned, though: this is traction control and not stability control – lose it on the way in on the brakes and you’re on your own, Lotus for the Drivers
The balance is one of mild understeer – like many Elise/Exige variations before it. If that sounds slightly underwhelming then it isn’t, not on the road at least. You get your thrills here from the feedback, the agility and control. Oversteer would simply be a distraction from getting from A to B as quickly as possible.
On the track things are different, retaining the stability and grip we’ve come to expect from a Lotus but bringing a new level of adjustability and a softer edge between grip and slip.
Compared with anything else the Exige S Performance Pack is simply awe-inspiring. There’s so much grip, so much control and so much raw speed. The brakes with much improved feel and tyres are hardly troubled despite the consistently high g-forces they provide, the engine is manic at the top end and yet tractable out of slower corners. As a trackday tool it’s a brilliant package – faster than a GT3 in most hands and much cheaper to keep in tip-top condition.
For the Drivers
Voor meer informatie over deze auto kunt u contact opnemen met Willem van der Kooi op +31(0)30-4100490 of via Willem@vanderkooisportscars.nl
Hoewel alle gegevens met de grootst mogelijke zorgvuldigheid zijn samengesteld is Van der Kooi Sportscars niet aansprakelijk voor enige directe of indirecte schade die zou kunnen ontstaan door het gebruik van deze aangeboden informatie. Aan de in dit document verstrekte informatie kunnen op geen enkele wijze rechten worden ontleend of aanspraken worden gemaakt wanneer deze niet door een tekeningsbevoegde is ondertekend. Alle informatie is onder voorbehoud van druk-, zet-, prijs-, en programmeerfouten. Alle afbeeldingen zoals deze getoond worden zijn auteursrechtelijk beschermd en mogen niet worden gebruikt door derden.
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