Edmunds Follow-Up Test - 2007 Lotus Exige S

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Success requires sacrifice

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    You and your 2007 Lotus Exige S will be happiest while staying busy on winding back roads.

    1.8-liter supercharged inline-4 engine - 220 horsepower - 2,052 pounds - 6-speed manual transmission

    When we first had a turn at the wheel of the 2007 Lotus Exige S, we recalled one of our visits with Lotus engineer Roger Becker. He told us that "Exige" is a French word that roughly translates into "brat," someone demanding or insistent. A pretty accurate description of this car, we think.

    But there's another phrase that comes to mind: "Le succès exige; le sacrifice." Success demands sacrifice.

    Corny as it sounds, this motivational mantra might well be the Lotus corporate mission statement, not to mention a capsule review of the supercharged 2007 Lotus Exige S.

    Less is more

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    A significant increase in horsepower and torque without extra weight helps the supercharged Exige S leap from corner to corner

    The Lotus mantra is actually remembered as "simplificate, then add lightness," a phrase that Lotus founder Colin Chapman picked up during his training as an aeronautical engineer in Britain. It became an obsession with Chapman, and it led him to the innovative insight that a lightweight car steers, handles and brakes better than a heavyweight one, and it also doesn't need a big engine to be frighteningly quick.

    This concept has been faithfully executed in the Lotus Elise and Exige. Essentially these are street-legal racecars, and they weigh but 1,980 and 2,012 pounds, respectively. A mere 190-horsepower is enough to give these diminutive siblings amazing performance.

    Yet the Lotus chassis beneath these cars is so supremely capable that it leaves us thinking, "If only it had more horsepower." In creating the 2007 Lotus Exige S, Lotus engineers show us they've been thinking along the very same lines.

    So a Roots-type supercharger has been plumbed up to the 1.8-liter Toyota 2ZZ engine. The Exige's prominent roof snorkel now directs air to an air-to-air intercooler mounted atop the four-cylinder. In addition, revisions to the Lotus engine-management software help thoroughly exploit the newly supercharged engine's system for variable valve timing and lift.

    More is more — if it's horsepower

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    The addition of a supercharger ups the output of the 1.8-liter Toyota 2ZZ engine from 190 to 220 horsepower.

    The supercharger and intercooler add 40 pounds to the car — something weight-obsessed Lotus doesn't take, er, lightly. Not to worry. At 2,052 pounds, this Exige S is still a flyweight. The payoff is the resulting jump in power from 190 hp to 220. And we're sure that Mr. Chapman would excuse the bloat, as the weight-to-power ratio plummets from 10.6 pounds/hp to just 9.3 pounds/hp.

    At the track, our test car launched hard and pulled strong all the way to the rev limiter, which isn't surprising since the horsepower peak coincides with the 8,000-rpm redline. Sixty mph came and went in 4.2 seconds, with the Exige S ripping through the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds at 105.5 mph. Our previous test of an unblown Exige produced a 0-60 time of 5.0 seconds, with the quarter-mile coming up in 13.5 seconds.

    Supercharging improves the engine's torque output by 20 percent, and this turns out to be an even bigger deal. The peak output of 165 pound-feet at 5,500 rpm might not sound like much, but at just 2,000 revs the Exige S engine makes about as much torque as the normally aspirated version does at its peak.

    On sinuous mountain roads, the Exige S doesn't force you to constantly change down a gear and rev the whee out of the motor whenever you exit a tight corner. This characteristic also helps the supercharged Toyota four-cylinder deliver improved fuel economy around town. Despite a massive performance boost, its EPA city rating actually climbs from 22 to 23 mpg. Highway thrift remains unchanged at 29 mpg.

    Enlightened suspension

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    Yokohama Advan A048 LTS tires and lightweight cast-alloy wheels are part of the Exige S's optional Sport Pack.

    Track testing confirmed our back-road driving impressions, as the cornering attitude of the Exige S proves easy to adjust by tickling the throttle. In fact, the Exige S set a new record in our slalom of 74.0 mph, besting the old record of 73.4 mph set by a standard Exige.

    Super-sticky Yokohama Advan Neova A048 LTS tires further help our S to 0.96g on the skid pad. These ultrahigh-performance tires are DOT rated, but just barely. With a tread-wear rating of only 60, we don't expect these track-optimized items to last very long.

    Through it all, the steering wheel of the Exige S communicates every detail of what the tires are experiencing. The key here is the simple, unassisted rack-and-pinion steering, a rarity these days. We've all become so conditioned to the artificial feel of hydraulically assisted steering that unassisted steering seems odd at first. But once you sweep into that first corner with a Lotus, you'll never want anything else. And since there are only 770 pounds over the front axle of the Exige S, the steering effort in parking lots isn't any trouble.

    The surprising bit is that the Exige S's balanced performance in the corners comes from a chassis without a rear stabilizer bar. Careful suspension design and expert tuning of the springs and Bilstein monotube dampers make it possible to achieve a good handling balance without it — a little weight-saving measure of which Colin Chapman would no doubt approve.

    Our test car also lacked the torque-sensing limited-slip differential, a $1,790 option that Lotus engineers say is unnecessary unless you plan to use the Exige S for autocross events.

    For those who plan on serious track usage, Lotus offers a Track Pack. This $2,495 option consists of 10-way adjustable Bilstein dampers, height-adjustable spring seats, a five-way adjustable front stabilizer bar and suspension reinforcements. The car is also ready for the installation of track-specification safety equipment.

    But our experience tells us that if you don't take your Exige S to the track and don't know much about suspensions, you shouldn't bother. Our car didn't have it, and not one of our editors felt the least bit deprived. Matthew Becker, the suspension development engineer for the Exige, tells us that the standard setup already falls in the middle of the Track Pack's adjustment range.

    The sacrifice part

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    Wide, tall sills and a low roof make getting into the Exige S a feat of human origami. The $1,350 Touring Pack includes leather upholstery.

    Of course there is a practical downside to extreme lightweight engineering. The bonded aluminum chassis used in the Exige S is a 150-pound marvel. But to be that light, the sills are high and wide and there isn't a door cutout.

    That makes squeezing into the cockpit an exercise in human origami, as you must fold yourself between the sill and the ultralow roof and then deposit your backside ungracefully into the seat. Once inside, the Exige S looks and feels quite like a racecar, as the aluminum chassis members are exposed everywhere.

    The confines of the cockpit are tight even once you're inside. You'll need a pair of narrow shoes (Chapman's feet were famously small) to keep from inadvertently stepping onto two pedals at once. The legroom is sufficient, but the molded driver seat is one-way adjustable — it manually slides back and forth. Passengers sit in a fixed seat with zero adjustments, while a rally-inspired, floor-mounted foot brace keeps them from flailing about.

    Our Exige S was equipped with the optional $1,350 Touring Pack, which adds carpet on the aluminum floor, leather upholstery for the seats and doors, additional sound insulation and an upgraded stereo. Surprisingly, every Exige comes standard with air-conditioning, and you actually have to pay $250 if you want to delete it. (What would Chapman think?)

    Once you fire up the engine, you're introduced to yet another category of sacrifice required in an authentic racecar. Everything buzzes and vibrates, as the suspension bushings are pretty hard in the name of cornering performance and they transmit more information about the road surface than you want to know. Our Exige S produced the highest sound readings at idle and full throttle that we've ever measured in a street car, and the engine note isn't particularly pleasing, either. Earplugs aren't out of the question.

    One for the road

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    In the corners, an Exige S is pure exhilaration thanks to sticky tires and precise, communicative steering.

    To get a 2007 Lotus Exige S, you'll have to sacrifice at least $57,915. That's $6,000 more than a standard Exige, but the performance jump is well worth it. Our moderately optioned car came to $61,995. But $1,200 of that went for the Laser Blue "Lifestyle" paint, and $995 more bought a Starshield protective appliqué over the nose. A $495 traction control system and the aforementioned Touring Pack complete the list.

    Our man Colin Chapman has become famous for his adopted mantra, "Simplificate, then add lightness." The trendy success of Lotus in recent years might be traced to a new generation learning to achieve performance through light weight.

    Yet Chapman has also become known outside motoring circles for another aphorism: "The secret of a successful marriage is not to be at home too much."

    How does this apply to this utterly thrilling sports car?

    Well, the secret of a successful relationship with a 2007 Lotus Exige S is not to drive it too much.

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    What Works:
    Outstanding steering and handling. Mega-grip. Startlingly quick acceleration. Eyeball-stretching brakes.

    What Needs Work:
    Interior noise, ride comfort, and interior appointments have been deliberately sacrificed to varying degrees in the name of authentic racecar performance.

    Bottom Line:
    The Exige S offers extreme performance in a lightweight, no-compromise package. But don't plan on using it as a daily driver.


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    Vehicle

    Model Year: 2007
    Make: Lotus
    Model: Exige
    Style: S 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl S/C 6M)
    Base Price: $57,915
    Price as Tested: $61,995
    Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
    Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
    Displacement (liters): 1.8L (1796cc)
    Engine Type: Supercharged inline-4
    Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 220 @ 8,000
    Torque (ft-lbs @ rpm): 165 @ 5,500

    Braking System: Front ventilated disc - rear ventilated disc
    Steering System: Unassisted rack-and-pinion
    Suspension Type (front): Double wishbone, coil springs, monotube shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar
    Suspension Type (rear): Double wishbone, coil springs, and monotube shock absorbers
    Tire Size (front): 195/50R16 84W
    Tire Size (rear): 225/45R17 90W
    Tire Brand: Yokohama
    Tire Model: Advan A048LTS
    Curb Weight (lbs): 2,077 (2,052 as tested)
    Recommended Fuel: Premium unleaded
    Fuel Tank Capacity (gal): 10.6
    EPA Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city/29 highway
    Edmunds Observed (mpg): 22.2 combined

    Performance

    0 - 30 (sec): 1.4
    0 - 45 (sec): 2.8
    0 - 60 (sec): 4.2
    0 - 75 (sec): 6.3
    1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 12.8 @ 105.5
    30 - 0 (ft): 27
    60 - 0 (ft): 111

    Braking Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Excellent
    Slalom (mph): 74
    Skid Pad (g-force): 0.96
    Handling Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Excellent

    Db @ Idle: 56.3
    Db @ Full Throttle: 90.9
    Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 75.6

    Acceleration: Lots of wheelspin is quickest, so the traction control needs to be shut off. The best launch technique is to hold engine at 6,000 rpm and sidestep the clutch. Wait until the vehicle speed catches up to the wheel speed, then upshift.

    Braking: Solid, consistent pedal, which requires high effort. No fade.

    Handling: The Exige S has the same brilliant communicative non-power steering as the Exige, but it's turned up to eleven. This car posted a new slalom record, beating the standard Exige by 0.6 mph. On the skid pad, it has better balance that the non-boosted Exige. Thanks to the added power and torque, it's easier to influence the chassis with the throttle.

    Specifications

    Length: 149.5 in
    Width: 68.0 in
    Height: 45.6 in
    Wheelbase: 90.5 in
    Legroom (front): 43.5 in
    Legroom (rear): N/A
    Headroom (front): 38.5 in
    Headroom (rear): N/A
    Maximum Seating Capacity: 2
    Cargo Volume: 4.0 cu-ft (110 pounds maximum)
    Maximum Cargo Volume (rear seats down): N/A

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  2. More&Faster

    More&Faster New Member

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    should i get one of these or an s2000?
     
  3. Werdness to the Turdness

    Werdness to the Turdness RIP Nigger Jim OT Supporter

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  4. More&Faster

    More&Faster New Member

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    holy shit it's under 2000 pounds :eek4:
     
  5. King Ralph

    King Ralph Active Member

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    Why they didn't go with a Honda engine is beyond me. They could have had another 80hp with virtually the same weight.
     
  6. sea bass

    sea bass Guest

    62k, no thanks
     
  7. imbored

    imbored OT Supporter

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    Hrmm....I want one I think.
     
  8. AaronOC

    AaronOC Guest

    because it would have been too powerful. VTECH is too much for that car to handle
     
  9. AaronOC

    AaronOC Guest

    if it's half as good as an elise it will be amazing :bowdown:
     
  10. Werdness to the Turdness

    Werdness to the Turdness RIP Nigger Jim OT Supporter

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    i saw one in austin last week. fucking :cool: looking in person. All black ftw
     
  11. King Ralph

    King Ralph Active Member

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    It's obviously too much for any car to handle.
     
  12. Chicane

    Chicane Ad Hoc OT Supporter

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    60k is just to much money for the car.

    The standard Elise is more capable than 90% of the people that purchase them.

    That blue looks amazing.
     
  13. Quick Silver

    Quick Silver Charging...

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    [​IMG]

    quite the spartan interior :eek3:
     
  14. maxxwizard

    maxxwizard New Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  15. GM Ecotec engine > Any current Honda engine out
     
  16. King Ralph

    King Ralph Active Member

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    :rofl:
     
  17. AaronOC

    AaronOC Guest

    :ugh: :bowrofl:
     
  18. :ugh: What?
     
  19. AaronOC

    AaronOC Guest

    you think an ecotec with no vtech is better than anything with vtech:bowrofl: god bless you
     
  20. You realize an ecotec engine powers the Solstice GXP right? :hsugh:
     
  21. Twinsen

    Twinsen OT Supporter

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    Exige >>>> Elise
     
  22. AaronOC

    AaronOC Guest

    yes, your point?
     
  23. Sandberglar

    Sandberglar Go Suns! OT Supporter

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    Fuck that car is awesome.
     
  24. Quick Silver

    Quick Silver Charging...

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    ahh, the Solstice

    isn't that the car topping the list as the "least reliable sport/sporty car" list according to consumer reports? :mamoru:

    http://money.cnn.com/popups/2006/autos/reliable/5.html
     
  25. LSD

    LSD knowledge is good OT Supporter

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    lotus :bowdown:

    only hope the beancounters allow them to build the new esprit
     

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