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Lotus Exige S (2011) at Frankfurt motor show

Tue, 13 Sep 2011

This is the new Lotus Exige S, just unveiled by CEO Dany Bahar at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. And it might not be the sort of Lotus Exige you were expecting: this new S model now runs the supercharged 3.5-litre V6 from the Evora S, meaning it not only boasts 35% more power than before, but it is also 191kg heavier.

Lotus Exige S: the spec

Lotus’s long-held mantra has been ‘add lightness’, but Bahar’s future plans call for models to rival the 458, the California and the Rapide, essentially bigger cars with bigger engines. The debate is out on whether they’ll feel like real Lotuses, but if any current car was expected to stick to that famous philosophy, it was this revised Exige.

Except emissions regulations meant the Toyota-sourced, supercharged 256bhp 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine died last year. And for its replacement, Lotus has chosen the bigger, heavier supercharged 3.5-litre V6 from the Evora S. All of which has upped the kerbweight from 889kg to 1080kg.

Still, even though the weight is up 22%, the power output is up 35%, to 345bhp. Which means the power-to-weight ratio increases from 288bhp/tonne to 319bhp/tonne. How quick is it? Lotus hasn’t yet released any performance figures (or the CO2 or fuel economy numbers) but we’d be surprised if it wasn’t able to duck under the four second mark for the 0-62mph run.

What else do we know about the new Lotus Exige S?

That new engine hides beneath brand new bodywork, influenced by Lotus’s new styling direction. The interior has been updated too, while the Premium and Premium Sport option packs respectively focus on comfort or creating the ultimate driver environment.

Grippy Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres are standard, as is Lotus DPM (Dynamic Performance Management), an ESP system with Touring, Sport and DPM Off modes. And you can spec a fourth mode, Race, which Lotus claims ‘provides the maximum possible traction out of corners’ – it's part of the Race Pack, which features a Launch Control function and a track-biased suspension set-up. You can order your new Lotus Exige now, for £54,900.

What about that white Lotus Exige?

A glimpse of the new Lotus Exige rally car, the Rallye GT. It runs the same supercharged 3.5 V6 as the Exige S, but power is down to 298bhp thanks to FIA-mandated 34mm air restrictors. And the weight is up too, to 1200kg, again because of FIA R-GT technical regulations.

Other tweaks includes a steel rollcage, front and rear underbody protection, Lexan side windows, an air scoop in the roof, three-way adjustable front and rear dampers, a six-speed sequential gearbox, new brake discs, upgrade calipers, a hydraulic handbrake and better cooling. 

By Ben Pulman