Lotus Exige S: Bantam Brit

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So many cars these days compromise performance and handling for creature comforts. The 2013 BMW M5 is a case and point. While I love the thing to death, it weighs nearly two tons because it has this and that put in. Sound deadening, active seats, TV screens, iDrive, and loads of other luxuries. That’s all fine and dandy for someone willing to have a plush übersedan rather than a true M5, but they need to make a different line of vehicles for that. Don’t name it an M5 and don’t put the M styling cues on, just extend that to the 560i or something, I mean the 760li tops the seven series range. Leave the M5 name for something that means business in terms of performance and lightness, for something that’s a true driver’s car.

Nowadays, it is hard to find a car lighter than 3,000 lbs. The lightest Ferrari for example weighs in somewhere around 3,100 lbs (LaFerrari). There’s one car that is still performance oriented, that retains the feel of cars of yore. It’s name, the Lotus Exige S. This car weighs only 2,381 lbs, about 300 up from the previous generation, but it’s still lighter than 95% of cars today. They pretty much put nothing in you don’t want; it doesn’t even have power steering. It gets from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 170mph, not bad for a car with only 350hp and 295 ft/lbs of torque. To me, it’s a car leaning more track day weapon then road car. It’s more like a BAC Mono with a roof and actual body panels. That said, the suspension itself isn’t all that harsh as with many track cars, which is nice because the car is actually usable on roads, not just the track.

Its weight isn’t the only nicety in the Exige S’s arsenal of drivability; it has a nifty little switch with four settings: Tour (for regular driving, everything is switched on TCS and all), Sport (which dials up everything), Race, and Everything Off mode. Now what is the difference between Race and Everything Off you might be asking. Well you see, in Race mode the car uses a system which can detect the grip levels of where you’re driving (normally a track), and after a few laps you’ll be able to keep your foot planted in the corners and just drive. It’ll figure out the throttle and everything for you (minor adjustments and awareness still required)! It’s pretty cool actually, but you still have to drive it; it won’t do that for you. Of course Everything Off mode just let’s you have fun without any electronic trickery. Just you and the car. 

So I guess what this car really exemplifies is the fact that throughout all this environmental adversity for car enthusiasts, there can still be a driver’s car. It’s not very sensible or practical; trunk space is almost nonexistent, not to mention getting in and out of the car. But to the select few who throw practicality into the wind, for performance’s sake, it is a magnificent machine. Really, it’s what car enthusiasts hope to experience, and they’ll have to keep hoping with the Exige’s $88,000 price tag. But it’s totally worth it, with the looks and the noise and the engine and the driving experience and… just everything about it seems right.

I love cars, and this is the reason. Everyday I can go out and find something new, something cool. Whether it’s a new car technology or a new car or both, there’s always something interesting going on. It’s cars like these that make me an enthusiast. You don’t have to be a millionaire to own one of these, just some time and savings along with hard work. It makes me wonder why they make cars like the Veyron, it’s the fastest there is but I’d be happier driving something like the Lotus which is light and fun. In a Veyron, corners are just another obstacle it has to overcome, for the Lotus they’re where it lives. 

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