1 May 2001
LIGHT weight provided explosive performance from a modest engine when the Lotus Exige first hit Australia in limited numbers, for its 132kW, 1.8-litre Rover K Series engine was enough to send the little 724kg coupe from 0-100km/h in a brisk 4.9 seconds.
Essentially a detuned race car for the road, it came with fully adjustable suspension and AP racing brakes. Comfort features were limited to a radio-fitting kit, alarm, leather seats and alcantara trim.
By August 2006, Malaysian-owned, British-based Lotus was employing a supercharged Toyota engine, giving rise to the Exige S. The 162.5kW/215Nm unit revved to 8000rpm and delivered a power-to-weight ratio of 173.8kW per tonne.
The car’s suspension was fine-tuned and complemented by Yokohama Advan street-legal competition tyres to provide the Exige S with more focused handling characteristics and the pedals revised for easier heel-toe manoeuvres.
Lotus designers developed a new lightweight dashboard for the S to allow the integration of a passenger airbag, which paired with a driver’s airbag mounted in the new leather-bound Momo steering wheel.
Apart from the dual airbags, standard kit also ran to push-button start, central locking, air-conditioning, ABS, cloth-trimmed ProBax racing seats designed to reduce fatigue, a light-weight aluminium foot-well divider and passenger footrest, a four-speaker Alpine AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, a remote immobiliser and alarm as well as Lotus design Y-Type eight-spoke alloys.
As would be expected from the extra supercharging and intercooling componentry plus the better appointed cabin, weight crept up to 935kg. Performance remained Lotus-worthy though, 100km/h coming in just 4.3 seconds, 160km/h in 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 238km/h.
October 2009 saw the announcement of a matt-black Scura special edition, of which just 35 were produced worldwide. The soft-feel matt paintwork required special care and was so delicate that Lotus only offered a one year/20,000km warranty on the finish.
The matt surface had contrast high-gloss stripes running the length of the car, while the front splitter, oil-cooler inlet vanes, side air scoops and rear spoiler were all carbon-fibre.
The Scura’s weight-saving treatments shaved 10kg from the Exige S’s kerb weight, to 925kg.
For extra performance, the Scura gained standard fitment of electronic launch control, variable slip traction control and track-style Ohlins two-way adjustable dampers.
Eibach Springs with variable height platforms, black forged wheels and Yokohama A048 LTS tyres completed the handling package.
Powered by the a Toyota-sourced supercharged 1.8-litre 191kW/236Nm four-cylinder engine, the Scura had a top speed of 245km/h and 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.1 seconds.
August 2011 saw Ateco become Australia and New Zealand's official Lotus importer, an occasion marked by a price drop and the inclusion of the Sports Pack as standard, which featured traction control, twin oil-coolers, Bilstein sports dampers Y-spoke forged alloy wheels with ‘Hi-Power Silver’ finish and ‘ProBax’ sports seats.