If not the sub-tonne flyweight of the original Exige, the V6 version is still more than 200kg lighter than a Porsche Cayman S; that's doubly significant when you consider the reach of the 350ps, 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine.
The equivalently-priced Cayman GTS comes close at 340ps, but the Exige's 295lb ft of torque beats the Porsche's 280lb both by numbers and feel. The naturally aspirated Porsche may set the hairs on your neck tingling, but it needs revs to deliver its best. The immediate punch of the supercharged Lotus - and its lack of weight - means it feels much, much faster across the board.
Its nearest on-paper rival in terms of price and lightweight minimalism is probably the more exotic looking Alfa Romeo 4C. Its fancy carbon fibre tub may mean it's lighter, but its turbocharged four-cylinder engine can't keep tabs with the sheer grunt of the Lotus's V6.
The Lotus also shows up the Alfa in terms of handling. Wisely there are no significant tweaks to the suspension, beyond a sharpening of the camber and toe to dial out the initial understeer present in the original S. The non-assisted steering is heavy at low speed, but wonderfully communicative at pace, feeding back nuances of grip and road surface through microscopic shifts in weight through the tiny rim.
This makes it a delight to drive right up to the clearly telegraphed limits, the performance fully exploitable even on a greasy track or wintry Norfolk B-road because you feel so intimately involved in what the car is doing. It may be a touch more pointy at the front end, but the Exige still has a very safe set-up, gently sharpening its line with a lift of the throttle and offering scope to get more creative with its cornering stance if you so wish.
The clever 'Race' mode of the Lotus Dynamic Performance Management stability control gives you enough leeway to explore this, while maintaining a safety net if you overstep the mark. Even fully disengaged the Exige remains predictable, fun and unthreatening, though.
Its new exposed gearshift linkage is a neat touch, but also a visual reminder Lotus has worked hard on improving this traditional weakness in Elise-based cars. Donated by the Evora 400, it's quicker, more positive and more enjoyable to use than ever before. The automatic option remains, but is really there to cater for markets where manuals don't sell - Porsche's PDK is a much better option if you prefer a two-pedal car.