Lotus is making a big splash with its new Exige. The Norfolk company has released this sneak preview of the second generation Elise coupé spin-off.
The Exige will be the first Lotus powered by a Toyota engine – the Celica T-Sport’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder with VVTL-i variable valve timing. Out goes the old Exige’s five-speed ’box, replaced by the Celica’s six-speeder.
Peak power is 190bhp and the high-revving engine is red lined at 8350rpm. Lotus claims the new Exige will sprint to 60mph in less than 5.0sec and max out at more than 140mph, making it comfortably the fastest of the current Elise family.
Suspension tuning and tyres are biased to serious road and track use, much like the original Exige which ceased production in 2000. The mini Group C race-car styling is revived with larger air intakes, front splitter and rear spoiler.
The new Exige will be launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2004 and will go on sale in April for around £33,000.
Although the same Toyota engine will be used in the forthcoming American-market Elise, European-spec models will continue to use the MG Rover K-series engine for the foreseeable future.
See this week's mag for an exclusive first drive