The Exige perhaps now more than ever feels like the sort of car Lotus ought to be making.

After several turbulent years for the Norfolk-based company, this raw and focused model feels like a brutal counterpunch, or the instinctive lunge of a wounded animal. The Exige range is an engineer’s car, seemingly conceived for the purest of intents: to go fast and to entertain wildly while doing it. And it complements the rest of the Lotus range superbly, with the thrill-seeking Elise propping up the range and the GT-flavoured Evora topping it.

There are three flavours of Exige: the Sport 350, the Sport 380 and the Race 380. If you think these Exiges are simply a more focussed Elise, then you will need to think again, as the each one uses the same Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 fettled at Hethel and found in the Evora. The main differences between the two are that all three Exiges produce less bhp than the entry-level Evora and utilise a Harrop supercharger rather than the Edelbrock version found in its bigger sibling.

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week