Lotus Exige: a return to the grand old days of driving

Lotus Exige

Lotus hasn’t over-promised with its new Exige: it punches miles above its weight. Madeleine Taylor reports.

Lotus, or so goes an old joke, stands for “Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious”. The manufacturer is now trying to shake off that phrase with what it calls “the ultimate road drive”. Surprisingly, it hasn’t over-promised. Taut, lightweight and ultra-stylish, it will make you “misty-eyed about the grand old days of driving”. The new Lotus Exige Sport 410 reminds you why, in its heyday, the firm made James Bond’s cars.

“Select any one of the six gears via the gorgeous open-gate manual gearbox and you are a mere throttle squeeze away from properly serious acceleration,” says Chris Knapman in the Daily Telegraph. The Exige Sport 410 is Lotus’ Lotus Exige interiormiddle child, not compromising on the raw power and speed of the hardcore Cup 430 but retaining road usability as it displaces the Sport 380. The light-bodied, bonded-aluminium Exige more than satisfies the need for speed, tipping the scales at just 1,054kg to deliver 3.3-second 0-60 acceleration. But Lotus hasn’t cut corners on handling, says Top Gear, with steering and brakes so immediately responsive, they “can only be described as voodoo”.

Driving an Exige is first and foremost a physical experience that engages all your senses, says Phil McNamara in Car magazine. The engine’s ferocious roar is one that “enthusiasts will probably forgive… especially in return for the hilarious gargle on the overrun in sport mode.”

And of course, the rush of speeding down the motorway wouldn’t be complete without feeling “the full jolting force of potholes at 40mph”. This is a car for those who think that practicality shouldn’t come at the expense of fun.

Starting at £85,600, it’s a vehicle that “punches so far above its weight you can’t believe Lotus charges so little for it”, says Stuart Gallagher in Evo. Indeed, buyers can expect rewards that extend well beyond surface glamour and speed – a survey by What Car? recently found that Lotus models top the charts for Britain’s slowest-depreciating performance cars, with the Lotus Elise retaining more of its value than any other “affordable” sports car after four years.

  • Exige Sport 410: 3,456cc V6 petrol engine, six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive
  • Power/torque: 410bhp/310lb ft from 3,500rpm
  • Acceleration:  0-60mph in 3.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 180mph (145mph roadster)
  • Fuel economy: 27.2mpg (EU urban/combined)
  • CO2 emissions: 240g/km
  • VED: £1,760 first year, then £450 per year for five years, then £140 per year