The Lotus Exige is another variation on the original 111th design by Lotus. In fact is so much information about the 111 chassis and all the cars based on it that there is a separate chapter devoted to the design, the original engineers, pictures, and other stuff. The Elise has a chapter devoted to specific maintenance, modifications, and diary and this is the chapter for similar information about the Exige. Take care as you navigate between these three chapters, as shown on the navigation panel on the right.
Experience (the good):
What makes the Exige such a special car? Why do people claim it is the best handling car or the best driver's car? How is it different from other cars, even other sports or high performance cars? Here is an attempt to describe the differences. The best way to discover the reasons is to drive an Elise or an Exige. The following are comments I made when I first drove the Elise and apply equally to the Exige. There are some differences which I explain in one of my first diary entries.
the response to steering, accelerator, and brake inputs is linear and predictable
First you have to tell the car to do something.
The steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal are how you, the driver, tell the car to do something. The controls are all direct and your input movement has an immediate and proportional affect on the car. Move the wheel slightly to the left and the car goes slightly to the left. Push the brake hard and the car stops, hard.
the Exige will tell you exactly what it is happening
Now the car needs to tell you what it is doing.
There is a feeling you get while just driving. All your senses are alive with inputs from the car, all the time. (see below)
These sensory inputs are coming from many directions. Each message is clear, immediate, and persistent.
seating position in the car
And finally you have to listen to what the car is telling you. You will decide if it is what you wanted and if the car should continue. Or if it was not what you wanted, you can correct it.
The driver's seat is close to the center of the car. The seat is offset towards the center and the passenger seat is pushed all the way away from the center to make room for the driver. The driver's head is located close to the fore and aft center of the car, midway between the front and rear wheels.
The view forward shows the world and some reference points on the front of the car. The fenders provide a reference of where the car is pointed. You can see each corner. As the car changes direction, you are able to see where it is going easily and quickly. See also rear view comments later.
The seat is contoured to encourage support. The padding and upholstery is thin in order to make the rear of the driver make close contact to the hard part of the car. This allows the driver to feel every movement and change in direction of the car directly in the body. This is the seat-of-the-pants driving that exceptional drivers have learned and the Elise encourages.
how much fun it is to drive, the grin on the driver's face
size, shape, and feel of the steering wheel
inspires confidence, especially at the limit, wonderful balance
seating position, very close to the front and offset to the center of the car
small size, the car is tiny
great feedback from the car, what it is doing, especially at the limit
comfortable seats, thin padding, retains the driver in position
acceleration and sound of the Lotus tuned, VVTL-i engine at high revs
dramatic appearance, even appeals to people who are not car enthusiasts
single windshield wiper coverage is excellent
ease of installation of hard and soft tops
the power is amazing
- short and non-linear brake controls
- poor stereo quality and sound
- scraping the nose on ramps and driveways, especially with a passenger
- speedometer error (reads 9% fast)
- rear visibility, non-existant because of the charge cooler
- quiet horn and hitting the horn going around corners
- where to put the front license plate
- quirks in the controls, horn button, light switches, alarm control, door locks
- minimal storage options
- entry and exit are fun to watch (you get used to it with time)