A supercharged Lotus Exige with go-faster stripes? That sounds like an excellent way to go green.
This experimental Trifuel Exige 270E can run on any mix of petrol, ethanol or methanol, its engine management system able to detect the mix currently occupying the Lotus’s tank and adjust accordingly.
The point of this exercise is not so much to demonstrate that an engine and its fuel systems can be modified relatively easily to deal with a mixed diet, as to make the case for methanol. Which can be part-made from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – see our news story for more.
This Exige not only earns its stripes for being greener, but also for going faster. The standard supercharged car is quick in its standard 237bhp form, but when it’s running on methanol it gets a whole lot more powerful, the fuel’s higher octane rating enabling it to produce 266bhp. As I found at Lotus’s Hethel test track, the combination of extra-potent fuel and a supercharger work to dramatic effect. Whether you’re low down or high in the rev range, this Exige extracts itself from corners with rampaging urge. This is terrific, addictive fun.
None of which may sound terribly green, but Lotus’s aim is to achieve guilt-free motoring by taking the car – or rather, its fuelling - out of the CO2 equation.
Its engineers make the point that once you fill your car’s tank with carbon neutral fuel it doesn’t matter how hard and uneconomically you drive, the CO2 emissions – potentially nil – remain unaltered. Now that sounds like a sensible way to enjoy the miniature supercar experience of the Exige. More than that, it sounds like a sensible reason to get behind the methanol solution.