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.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
When it was new
28th of October 2009
Lotus on Exige ‘stealth’ mission
Lotus Oz tries to corner supply for all-black Exige Scura special edition
31st of August 2009
First look: Lotus tweaks 260 Cup
The Lotus Exige S-based road-going track racer modified for improved efficiency
29th of August 2006
First drive: Exige S improves the Lotus breed
Lotus is on a roll and the rapid Exige S coupe will be backed up by the new Europa S