Matt Prior
25 June 2013

What is it?

A Lotus Exige S Roadster. So isn’t that like a Porsche Cayman convertible? Lotus has anticipated your question and prepared a Powerpoint and everything to suggest that no, it isn’t. 

The roadster variant of the Exige is ostensibly the same as the Exige S coupé, most notably with the roof removed and replaced with a hood from an Elise (the Exige and Elise share the same chassis tub). 

But the Exige Roadster is different, not just to the Elise (it has a 70mm longer wheelbase, is 243mm longer overall and has a supercharged 3.5-litre V6), but also, subtly, to an Exige coupé, too.

Changes are small but significant. Gone is some of the coupé’s aero package, specifically the front splitter and rear spoiler. That lowers drag minutely (by about Cd0.04) and makes a larger difference to downforce. Not enough that would trouble most manufacturers, but, well, this is Lotus.

So the rear roll bar has been stiffened to keep the back feeling planted at speed, while geometry changes at the front (where negative camber is reduced) and the rear (where negative camber has increased) attempt to compensate similarly. The front changes also reduce steering effort at manoeuvring speed, helpfully.

Other changes? Weight is down by an inconsequential 10kg. Top speed is limited to 145mph. The price is the same as the coupé's, so it's £53,850 on the road.

What is it like?

Different to the coupé  However, arguably just as important as any of the other changes is that that our test Roadster was not equipped – unlike every coupé we’ve tried – with the Race Pack that optimises (read 'hardens') the suspension to suit the Trofeo tyres. 

If you like a spot of compliance in your suspension – and I do – Lotus tells me I’ll like this car at least as much as the coupé  That’s a car that finished third in our Best Driver’s Car 2012 contest. We like it a lot.

The new-found compliance is immediately evident. The Roadster rides with impressive absorbency and plenty of Lotus magic; more so, arguably, than in a Race Pack-equipped coupé  It flows over poor roads – still all apiece, still with terrific body control – with a level of comfort that genuinely broadens the Exige’s appeal. You don’t feel compelled to be continuously ‘on it’. 

It’s still chuffing fast when you want, mind. The fastest ever soft-top Lotus, they say. Less focused? A little, inevitably, without the Race Pack. But it’s still a great track car – solid brakes, fabulously steering and, although a subtle limited-slip differential would make it more throttle adjustable, still a great balance and with neatly adjustable handling.

Should I buy one?

Maybe. The nice thing is how much more accessible it makes the Exige range, so even if you weren’t considering an Exige S before, you could now. 

A standard-setting Roadster differs from a Race Pack-equipped coupé notably and requires less effort to drive, yet on the road it is just as rewarding, with only a small compromise on track. If we had access to both, on track days we’d take the car with the Race Pack. However, we suspect that, overall, we’d spend quite a bit more time in the standard-suspended Roadster.

Lotus Exige S Roadster

Price £53,850; 0-60mph 3.8sec; Top speed 145mph; Economy 28.0mpg; CO2 236g/km; Kerb weight 1166kg; Engine V6, 3456cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 345bhp at 7000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Comments
22

The rear view looks terrific.

1 year 5 weeks ago

The rear view looks terrific. I'm sure we've all got a bit tired of the Lotus 'look' but considering the basic shape has been around sinnce the mid 90's, they've done a fantastic job keeping it up to date for the money Porsche probably spends on cup holder development.

Cracking car.

Hmmm ...

1 year 5 weeks ago

I think "Targa" is a more accurate description of the roof configuration and arguably sounds better than "Roadster" ... "Exige S Targa" ... Sexy!!

A34

Wide, stalky door mirrors

1 year 5 weeks ago

... Seem out of place. Otherwise congrats to Lotus for bringing us such  semi-exotic cars (when we all know most petrol heads looking in this price range would just buy an M3). 

What is it?

1 year 5 weeks ago

Is it a harder Elise with a bigger engine, or is it a soft Exige with the roof chopped?

 

Or is it just another sorry excuse from Lotus for a "new car"?

 

Symanski wrote: Is it a

1 year 5 weeks ago

Symanski wrote:

Is it a harder Elise with a bigger engine, or is it a soft Exige with the roof chopped?

 

Or is it just another sorry excuse from Lotus for a "new car"?

 

You're an idiot. This has a more powerful engine than an Elise and is more hard core. Do keep up for God's sake.

Wonderful, wonderful car.

Rude.

1 year 5 weeks ago

Ray6O wrote:

You're an idiot.

That's very rude of you.   I've seen other posts you've made and you really have no manners at all.   I feel sorry for you.

indeed!

1 year 5 weeks ago

No need to be rude on here.  Everyone is entitled to a reasoned inteliigent opinion.  I think Symanski has a point!  Lotus is not a religion, just another car in a very competitive environment.  

To spend £50K plus on a car incredibly difficult to get in an out of,  (though with the Targa roof removed,  it will now be a little easier),  is a hell of a leaf of faith...especially as Lotus presently has such an uncertain future.  As a former owner of a TVR,  I would now always shy away from a car company that hasn't the financial resources to thoroughly developed a product. If you're the sort of person that has enough money to buy with the heart and not as all the rest of us have to do,  with the head,  then you're definitely buying something unique.  Can't help feeling there will be quite a few foibles to sort out during ownership and there is nothing more irritating at this price point having bits of trim falling off, or worse!

Lotus haters

1 year 5 weeks ago

I was wondering how many posts in before we heard from the Lotus haters. Everyon knows Lotus is struggling at the moment and im sick of people kicking them when they are down. Lotus may be just a car company, but they have a racing pedigree and a reputation for innovation which betters most other car marques. If you dont like the cars, dont read the road tests and and dont leave negative comments.

Symanski wrote: Ray6O

1 year 5 weeks ago

Symanski wrote:

Ray6O wrote:

You're an idiot.

That's very rude of you.   I've seen other posts you've made and you really have no manners at all.   I feel sorry for you.

You're quite right. I apologise sincerely. What I really meant was that you are unintelligent and / or uneducated. An Exige is a harder version of an Elise and that this is a targa version of the Exige with a more powerful engine which is not available in the Elise. Did you make the same comment about the hard top Exige or were you unable to work it out / unaware of what an Exige is that time too. Hope this clears it up. Sorry again.

nick644uk66 wrote: To spend

1 year 5 weeks ago

nick644uk66 wrote:

To spend £50K plus on a car incredibly difficult to get in an out of,  (though with the Targa roof removed,  it will now be a little easier),  is a hell of a leaf of faith.

Every tried getting into a Lamborghini? Are you unintelligent and / or uneducated too?

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