The Lotus Exige S is all about dropping pounds. While, when compared to other sports cars, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine in the Exige seems far too small, the overall effect is incredible. That’s because the 257-horsepower 2009 Lotus Exige S 260 only weighs 1,962 pounds. This gives a power to weight ratio of 7.63 pounds per one horsepower. A Porsche Cayman, a lightweight sports car itself, has a 9.45:1 ratio with an engine nearly twice the displacement (3.4-liter six-cylinder). The Lotus may not seem like a serious sports car from a numbers perspective, but it will rip around a track better than most of its competitors, and for a smaller price tag.
The aforementioned 1.8-liter engine in the new Exige comes from Toyota, and is connected to a six-speed manual transmission, also from Toyota. What takes these basic engines and turns them into sports car material is the Lotus ECU (electronic control unit) and a supercharger. By carefully adjusting the fuel-air ratio and affixing the supercharger, the Lotus designers are able to take a basic four-cylinder and turn it into a monster that redlines at 8,000 RPM. Also, the torque produced, 167 lb-ft, is more than enough to propel the ultra-light Exige from 0-to-60 mph in 4 seconds flat.
The light weight and responsive throttle makes the Exige S a master at handling corners. There is so little weight in the car that the straightline inertia is easily overcome when you want to head into a corner. No oversteer, no understeer, just a car that goes in the exact direction that you point it. Of course, with a little extra pressure on the gas pedal, you can easily send the Exige S into an awe-inspiring drift around a hairpin turn, provided you have the skill. But, again, the light weight comes into play, so that even amateur drivers will be able to turn some four-wheel theatrics without worrying about spinning out of control and crashing.
Lotus has always been a niche car company, and the new Exige S 260 is no exception. Only 50 of the vehicles will be heading to North America, carrying a price tag of $75,000 each. In the next few months, as the cars are delivered, there will be 50 people across the country who can’t seem to wipe the smile off of their face.