If a $65,000 car can be thought of as a bargain, surely the Lotus Exige S 240 is it. I have yet to come across an ultimately unfavorable review of the Exige or it’s slightly less peppy sibling, the Elise. How can something that is small, cramped, mostly without creature comforts and generally a pretty frivolous vehicle that costs 65 grand be a bargain? Because all of those things are forgotten when you are sitting behind the wheel of what is essentially the most balanced and affordable street-legal racecar on the road.
The “240” that accompanies the new nameplate of the Exige is in reference to the 240 horsepower that Lotus has coaxed out of the supercharged 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engine; 20 more than the lower model Exige. A measely 20 horses does not sound like much difference, but this car only ways 2077 pounds, the same as the regular Exige. Also there are other changes that accompany this extra boost that make the Exige S 240 a monster on the track. The Toyota 2ZZ engine (engineered by Yamaha) that Lotus has adopted and supercharged to be the powerplant for this car also has high-flow fuel injectors and is managed by sophisticated engine control software that feeds more air to the powerplant via a revised and fully functional roof scoop. If you need further proof that this vehicle has legitimate race credentials Lotus has added a set of three Formula 1-style shift lights to the gauge cluster. Adaptive software controls the lights, so the point at which they light up varies with the amount of aggressiveness displayed by the driver. Lotus claims the changes should deliver a 0-60-mph time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph. For competition-style standing starts, electronic launch control has been fitted. With the engine off, you engage the system by pressing a button and flooring the throttle. At this point a knob on the left side of the steering column is used to set the desired launch rpm via the tach needle. At the starting line, simply select 1st gear, floor the throttle and, as the engine furiously bounces off your preset launch rpm, release the clutch and hang on.
There is also an optional Track Pack suspension, featuring 10-way adjustable Bilstein monotube shocks with adjustable spring perches and an adjustable front stabilizer bar for an additional cost of $1,650, and larger, 12.1 inch brake rotors with uprated pads and hoses, an uprated clutch, and traction control that can be varied with a knob on the steering column.
With all of this performance, the rated fuel economy of the 2008 Lotus Exige S 240 is the same as the Exige S: 20 mpg city and 26 highway, though that is sure to fall slightly due to new EPA ratings. (I’m sure if you are launching from every stoplight it will also be much lower) But if you show restraint this car is not beyond the realm of affordability. Ok. I don’t have 65 grand, but unlike many high performance cars, it isn’t SO expensive that I can’t at least dream!