What Car? says...
“Simplify, then add lightness”, said Lotus founder and legendary designer Colin Chapman. It's the motto that the company has lived by since it was founded and expresses the thinking behind every Lotus from Chapman’s pioneering Lotus 25 Formula 1 car to, yup, you guessed it, the Lotus Exige.
Designed from the outset as a road legal track car, the first-generation Exige essentially took what was best about the popular open-top Elise sports car and ramped everything up a notch. From its lightweight composite roof, to its stripped-out interior and more powerful engine, the Exige was one of the first sports cars that sought to truly satisfy the needs of track day enthusiasts. Two decades and three generations later, it still serves that purpose, slotting into the Lotus line-up between the cheaper four-cylinder Lotus Elise and the larger, more luxurious Evora.
The Exige line-up is also now divisible into three specifications, depending on your budget and your preference between road or track driving. The ‘entry-point’, if you can call it that, is the 345bhp Exige Sport 350. Capable of 170mph, it’s certainly no slouch, and is a natural rival for the Porsche Cayman. At the other end of the range is the scalpel sharp Exige 430, with its adjustable suspension, aggressive wings and 430bhp – and a price tag to rival a Porsche GT3, it’s fair to say it’s something of a specialised tool for the privileged few. And, between the two, there’s the Sport 410. Think of this as a cheaper, more road orientated Cup 430 rather than an upgraded 350, and it could be the sweet spot of the range.
Without wishing to give too much away, the Exige is one hell of a track car, but should you really consider one over more civilised rivals? Read on to find out.
One of the most entertaining and rewarding sports cars you can...
As for the coupé version, but with added sun; tiny boot
One of the best four-door sports saloons on the market today
The M4 is every bit as visceral to drive as the M3, but lacks...