‘What’s going on at Lotus?’ is a question that we’re asked occasionally, one that most of us here at Autocar have been unable to answer with any degree of authority.
In the two short years since the Norfolk sportscar company parted ways with Dany Bahar, details of a new long-term vision to replace the former CEO’s ill-fated plan have been notable by their absence.
According to the SMMT’s figures, Lotus registered 73 new cars in the UK in the first five months of 2014, compared with 80 in the corresponding period last year, although the company is enjoying good fortunes in export markets.
However, with new company boss Jean-Marc Gales settling in, and formulating his own strategy for the future, the stage is set for a fresh injection of impetus at Hethel.
In the meantime, last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed provided a timely reminder of the delightful potency of the company’s current model range.
The company’s amiable chief engineer Matt Becker treated me to a ride up the hill in the Lotus Exige V6 Cup, a hardcore variant of the Exige S that’s aimed at track day enthusiasts.
The interior is stripped down, a lot of sound-deadening has been removed for weight saving and for a slightly more visceral experience, the suspension can be tinkered with and although there’s no extra horses on top of the standard Exige S’s 345, it is about 60kg lighter.
Steve Sutcliffe raved about this car when he tested it for Autocar, and from the passenger seat alongside Becker on this high-speed run up the course, I can see why. It feels deft, nimble, and extremely responsive.
But it still feels accessible and fun. In fact, as we sit at the holding paddock waiting to cruise back down the hill, I’m imagining buying a Lotus Exige V6 Cup and hauling it to circuits to make a fool of myself on track days (before the reality of my impecunious circumstances kicks back in).
It struck me that Lotus doesn’t need dealerships – just send prospective owners around a circuit for a hot lap with Becker and they’ll be champing at the bit by the time they step out. Heck, if you want Lotus will even set you up on one of its driver academy days to give you tips on how to get the best of the Exige V6 Cup.
Proof of how good this Lotus is came the previous day when Becker, bereft of the ballast of a passenger, went fifth-quickest in the timed supercar runs against some significantly more powerful opposition.
You’d imagine that big boss Gales has had plenty of drives and passenger rides in the various models in the Lotus line-up and also appreciates the magical products that the people under his control create.
A large portion of the car world is waiting eagerly to find out how he intends to make the most of it.