What is it?
Modern sports car buyers love automatic gearboxes. This much we know because so many successful makers now sell cars in south-east Asia, where such transmissions are popular, and because even Europeans have come to enjoy the self-shifting properties of the many dual-clutch cars now on the market.
So sure is Lotus that even its rawest and most focused model – the 1.2-tonne, 345bhp supercharged Exige – will attract more buyers with a self-shifter that it has built such a car using a conventional Aisin six-speed automatic ’box but giving the driver exceptional control over gearchanging by using its own control software and providing an elegant pair of alloy shift paddles.
The Exige is related to the Elise but styled differently and a little longer in the wheelbase. Its biggest difference is its Toyota-derived 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, which has control software and a supercharger designed by Lotus. The auto ’box adds £2000 to the price and is offered as an option on both coupé and drop-top versions of the Exige.