From £52,900
Extra power, new interior and launch control perfects one of the finest British sports cars ever built

Our Verdict

Lotus Exige S

Hethel goes back to basics with its Lotus Exige

  • First Drive

    2016 Lotus Exige Sport 380 review

    The Lotus Exige Sport 380 range-topper is called a ‘supercar killer’ by its maker, and you won’t find us disagreeing
  • First Drive

    2015 Lotus Exige Sport 350 review

    With less weight and more focus, the Exige Sport 350 feels a very Lotus way of making an already fast car even faster. We drive it in the UK
14 November 2007

What is it?

A whole Autocar first drive seems like an extravagance of space to tell you about what amounts to an option. But then the Performance Pack - a £3000 temptation now facing buyers of Lotus’ supercharged Exige S - is some option, taking the already superb Exige S and turning it into quite possibly the finest British sports car you can buy.

The headlines include a more greedy looking roof-mounted air-scoop and changes to the supercharger that give additional power (240bhp from 221bhp) and torque (170lb ft from 158lb ft), plus larger front brake discs and beefed-up brake pads to cope with the extra pace. If an extra 19bhp doesn’t sound much then remember that the Exige S weighs just 935kg, so a little extra goes a long way. It's the effect, rather the numbers, that render the Performance Pack such a marvellous triumph.

The massaged torque delivery is felt from 3500rpm onwards, the delivery not just stronger but smoother and longer-lasting as well. The extra power comes on stream from 5000rpm onwards and at a rate of growth that doesn’t diminish until it crashes into the limiter at 8000rpm. Together the effect is of an Exige S with a mid-range punch that chimes in earlier, hits harder and lasts longer, and (although those familiar with the car may find this difficult to imagine) an even more frenetic top-end.

What’s it like?

Whether on track or on road, the improvement in performance is staggering, and in percentage terms easily worth the 9 per cent of list price that the Performance Pack costs. This may push the Exige S up to £37,550, but makes it the car the Exige always deserved to be – as quick and invigorating round the bends as it ever was, but now properly, addictively rapid in between them.

If that weren’t enough reason, the PP Exige S sounds better too. The supercharger whine is now balanced with a rushing induction noise on full throttle that gives the soundtrack added edge, plus Lotus’ variable traction control system complete with launch control gets thrown in too.

Our Exige S PP test car also gave us an opportunity to sample modifications made for 2008 Elise and Exige models. Inside, all models now get the dash formally offered as a Super Touring option, with twin airbags and 'bug-eye' air vents. For ‘08 the plastic quality has been improved and a starter button fitted.

The instruments unit is also updated, now finished in black, with ‘secret-until-lit’ warning lamps, a higher definition multi-function LED screen and three-sequential change-up lights. Small changes but ones that help refresh a delightfully simple design.

Should you opt for the £2,000 touring pack you’ll also get an iPod connection and a cup-holder, although the latter is typically Lotus in its simplicity of design. Finally, and about time, Lotus has sourced an integrated, attractive key and immobiliser fob.

Should I buy one?

Lotus’ motivation for the Exige S Performance Pack may not have been as pure as simply pushing the envelope. There will soon be a supercharged Elise so, in order to maintain the model hierarchy, the Exige S needed something extra.

Whatever the reason though, we’re mighty glad of the result. The Exige S Performance Pack is further evidence of Lotus delivering its very best. Forget the ‘quite possibly’ you read in the opening paragraph: the Exige S now is the finest British sports car on sale today. And so for those in the fortunate position of ordering a new one, the Performance Pack isn’t an option after all – it’s a must-have.

Jamie Corstorphine

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?