Buying a Series Two Lotus Exige is a lifelong ambition achieved for Quintin, so is ownership all it’s cracked up to be? “And some,” he replies excitedly. “It offers such an undiluted driving experience that it makes any typical modern car feel anaesthetised by comparison.” Boasting semi-slick tyres, race seats, a huge rear wing and full-length roof scoop that feeds an intercooler, this supercharged Exige S can only be described as a race car with a tax disc. It builds on the company’s founding principles of light weight and clever materials, but compliments this with a modern and seemingly bulletproof 1.8-litre Toyota engine.
Keen to buy a car with potential to unleash on track days, Antony also looked for a later 'Performance Pack' version of the Exige S, which boosted power from 218bhp to 240bhp, added bigger 308mm front discs with four-piston AP Racing brakes, launch control and a clever variable-slip traction control system first seen on the track-special Lotus 2-Eleven. “Being able to dial in a bit of traction control when you’re on the move is a big security blanket, but in fairness, there is so much mechanical grip that the car lets you carry huge speed into a corner safely. All you need to worry about is recalibrating your brain!”
With such clarity of focus, you’d think the Exige would possess a cabin emptier than Nick Griffin’s skull, yet surprisingly, it also benefits from leather seats, sound insulation, digital radio, an iPod connector and even - drum roll... - a cup holder, thanks to the optional Touring Pack.
Another positive offshoot of Exige ownership is that residual values have remained rock solid for the last few years, with some low-mileage examples now increasing in value. Plus, both maintenance and running costs are much cheaper than any on other comparable performance car, on road and on track. The only downside Antony has discovered is the famed Exige dismount, having to clamber through the door's narrow aperture and over the wide sills of the aluminium monocoque to exit: giving birth has been known to be more elegant...
Still, we feel it’s a worthy sacrifice for a model that offers some of the finest and most entertaining performance car thrills with family hatchback bills. Enjoy the film.