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Lotus to sell Exige S in Australia

New Lotus position: Minor local homologation issues that threatened the Exige S have been resolved, opening the door for the super-quick coupe to come to Australia.

Potent supercharged V6-engined Lotus Exige S to be offered here from $120K

Lotus logo23 Aug 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

LOTUS will bring the new supercharged V6-engined Exige S to Australia in November, priced at about $120,000.

This will position the potent new two-seat coupe just below the naturally aspirated Evora V6 and about $25,000 under the Evora S, which has the same 258kW supercharged version of the Toyota-based engine but weighs 357kg more.

In the lightweight Evora S, the boosted V6 – which uses an Australian-made Harrop supercharger – pushes the Exige from 0-100km/h in just 4.0 seconds on the way to a top speed of 274km/h, making it one of the quickest road cars Lotus has built.

Lotus Australia public relations manager Edward Rowe told GoAuto the minor homologation issues that put the Exige S in doubt for Australia had been resolved to allow it to come here – though in limited numbers due to restricted supply from the UK.

Lotus production returned to normal last month after being interrupted due to the company’s takeover by Malaysian car-maker Proton.

Mr Rowe said Lotus Australia and New Zealand was sitting on about 100 orders but that the company would catch up to the backlog early next year.

57 center imageFrom top: Interior of the Lotus Exige S Lotus Exige V6 Cup.

Only six examples of the Exige S will come to Australia this year – all of which have been sold already – and supply will also be restricted in 2012, though the local distributor has yet to be advised of exact numbers.

The roadster version of the Exige S, which was presented at the Geneva motor show in March, is expected to arrive in Australia some time in 2013.

Mr Rowe described the Exige S as “an extreme sportscar” that would appeal to people who wanted to buy a Porsche GT3 but did not want to spend $275,000, while former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said at the car’s Frankfurt motor show debut “you can’t get more Lotus than the Exige S”.

Fitting the larger engine into the original Exige – which was essentially the Elise roadster with a roof – led to Lotus widening the car 75mm. At the same time, the wheelbase was lengthened 70mm and the overall length was stretched some 267mm over the previous model.

Though 145kg heavier than before at 1176kg, the new Exige S with the standard six-speed manual gearbox is seven-tenths of a second faster from 0-100km/h than the previous model, which was also powered by a Toyota-based engine, in this case a 180kW supercharged four-cylinder unit.

The Lotus-built supercharged V6 has the same outputs – 258kW of power at 7000rpm and 400Nm of torque at 4500rpm – as in the Evora S.

The first production Exige S came off the production line four weeks ago at Lotus’s traditional home of Hethel in the UK.

Lotus has also produced a special track version of the Exige called the V6 Cup, but this is unlikely to be officially offered in Australia. It has been developed specifically for the UK, the US, Europe and Japan, where Lotus race series are held.

Presented at last weekend’s Lotus Festival at the Brands Hatch race circuit in Kent, the new track-focused Exige V6 Cup is being produced in two variants: a Track Day version priced at £62,995 ($A95,300) and a full-on Competition-spec car starting at £74,995 ($113,400).

Though the engine is unchanged, the Exige V6 Cup is 96kg lighter than the standard Exige S and consequently accelerates to 100km/h two-tenths of a second faster at 3.8 seconds.

Lotus says its Dynamic Performance Management system allows the driver to switch the engine and traction settings between Touring, Sport and Race.

Other changes include the fitment of Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo tyres, “aerodynamically optimised” front splitter, rear diffuser and wing, a multi-adjustable suspension, and race-ready kit such as a heavy-duty roll cage, four or six-point harnesses, isolator switches, a fire extinguisher, tow eyes, removable steering wheel and race seats that enable the driver to use a HANS (head and neck support) device.

The first cars will roll off the production line in December, with an allocation of 20 cars through to March 2013.

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