Toyota 3.5-litre V6 to power 2012 Lotus Exige

A new V6 engine will be chief amongst a vast array of changes to the Exige in 2012, as Lotus aims to bridge the gap between its current range and its five-strong line-up of new sports cars due from 2013.

No Exiges have been produced for the European market since December 2010 when its 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine fell foul of emissions regulations. Autocar understands Lotus boss Dany Bahar is planning to fully back and improve the current range of Lotuses before the new models – starting with the 2013 Esprit – are phased in.

An early V6-equipped Exige test mule was scooped last summer when Lotus first experimented fitting the Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 from the Evora within the Exige’s mid-engined, rear-drive layout. That mule had a significantly wider track as Lotus tried to accommodate the engine in the Exige and the latest, further developed mule pictured here has a significantly lengthened wheelbase.

Scooped testing at the company’s Hethel headquarters, this Exige appears to be almost entirely new from the B-pillars back. At the front, revised front styling is also evident. Lotus design boss Donato Coco says the current Lotus models look “too weak” and he wants to give them a bolder, more aggressive look inspired by the range of new sports cars previewed at last year’s Paris motor show.

All Lotus models – Exige, Elise and Evora – will benefit from these styling changes for 2012, and Bahar has previously said more than 150 other changes would be made to each model, including interior quality improvements.

Equipping the Exige with the Evora’s V6 will open up plenty of new directions for Lotus to take the driver-focused sports coupe in. The engine is offered with 276bhp and 345bhp power outputs, and an automatic gearbox can also be mated to it.

Mark Tisshaw

Our Verdict

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