Based on the Lotus Elise, the new 2006 Lotus Exige coupe is a harder-edged automobile than that already raw roadster. It’s got the same Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter inline-four equipped with variable timing, and it makes the same 190 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission transmits the power to the rear wheels, and the powertrain is installed in a plastic-bodied automobile with a lightweight aluminum chassis.
Since the 2006 Lotus Exige weighs just 2,000 pounds, give or take a few, it accelerates to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and crests 150 mph on the top-speed-o-meter. Yokohama A048 performance rubber keeps the Exige glued to dry ground. Where the main difference lies with the Exige is that it produces lots more downforce at speed than the Elise, and that affects the car’s entire driving character.
Though at first glance the 2006 Lotus Exige looks like an Elise with a fixed roof grafted on, it shares only its doors with the Elise. Everything else is new, from the longer front end with an air splitter to its unique rear wing, and the new bodywork is specifically designed to maximize downforce and thus, performance.
Don’t expect luxuries inside this $50,000 sports car. The 2006 Lotus Exige is a bare-bones ride to keep weight down. You can subtract from the performance by adding to the bottom line with carpeting, interior door panels, leather upholstery, and better sound system, but you’d be missing the point of this car by selecting any of them. In fact, if you really know what the Exige is about, you’ll pay a couple hundred bucks for the air conditioning delete option to save more than 20 pounds.
If you want to find out what a raw sports car really is, the 2006 Lotus Exige goes on sale this month. But with its limited-production status, you’d better hurry.
Photos by Ron Perry