2008 Lotus Exige S Review

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2008 Lotus Exige S Review

“Bell & Ross make precision watches for professionals operating in extreme conditions. Similarly, the Lotus Exige S Performance Pack, is a precision instrument capable of extreme speeds across any paved terrain"

Model tested: 2008 Lotus Exige S Performance Pack - $125,990 (RRP)


  • Touring Pack: $8000
  • Sport Pack: $6000


Supercar looks, Supercar performance and Japanese reliability for a bargain price

The Upgrade Option Packs are still too expensive. The standard Exige S at $114,990 is the better buy

CarAdvice Rating:

Anthony Crawford

If you’re punting along in your Euro-express and suddenly notice an Exige S in the rear vision (and I guarantee you will recognise this car) best you move across a lane.

But when you hit anything that remotely resembles a bend in the road, you should pull over and let the Lotus do its thing. Whatever you do, don’t under any circumstances, try and go with it. You’ll lose or worse still, come a cropper.

If you stand back and fully appreciate what Lotus have achieved with the Exige S, you’ll be hard pressed finding any fault. This is truly, the performance ‘bang for buck’ king.

Doesn’t sound like that much, I can hear you all muttering. Wrong! Power, and power alone, is not what Lotus is about. Power-to-weight, is infinitely more important and Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, wrote the book on that.

Although heavier than the Elise at 935 kg, the Exige S can shred the 0-100 km/h dash, in 4.3 seconds. Just for the record, the power-to-weight ratio, is an astonishing 174kW per tonne.

But this isn’t the standard Exige S we have parked in the CarAdvice garage, no sir, this version is from the dark side. Something even more sinister. Say hello to the Exige S Performance Pack.

I’m not sure the Exige S needed to be any quicker, but I for one, am not complaining.

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I’ve haven't driven the standard Exige S, so I won’t be able to compare the two, in this test. But I have driven the Elise S, and although both cars are essentially from the same family, this is a massive step up. Power skyrockets from 100kW to 179kW and torque rises from 172Nm to 230Nm.

That extra mumbo is enough to shave another 0.2 seconds off the 0-100km/h sprint time, bringing it down to 4.13 seconds. Then there’s the real ‘bling’ number, 0-160km/h in 9.9 seconds!

This is a car that has no problems mixing it up with a Yamaha R1, even in the hands of an experienced pilot. At least for the first few seconds from a standing start, where the bike has difficulty putting the power down, and on the twisty bits, it’s the Lotus that’s takes care of business.

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What makes the Exige S PP so damn quick in a straight line, is the slippery close ratio gearbox. So closely spaced are the shifts that it feels more like a proper sequential racing box, but without the need for anything more than a gentle tap up or down.

Clutch pressure is slightly heavier than the Elise and it needs to be as this thing has launch control. Dial up the revs via a knob on the steering column, floor the throttle and dump the clutch and you’re gone!

There’s minimal wheel spin up to 10km/h and then traction control takes over the management rights. This is definitely not your average, annoyingly intrusive, traction control found aboard lesser cars. Even when selecting the maximum seven percent tyre slip at full throttle through some tight curves, intervention from the Lotus developed system, was barely perceptible.

But again it’s partially the Lotus’s steering, which allows you to blast through bends at speeds that are downright immoral. It’s very heavy and very direct, so you will need quick hands to get the best out of this car.

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There’s absolutely no mistaking the Exige S PP for anything other than a deadly, road going, projectile. If the Isotope Green doesn’t say it, then the rear wing and that serious looking three-piece diffuser, should make it obvious.

Although the suspension ratings seem a little stiffer than the Elise S, ride compliance is very good and never uncomfortable. What is a bit of a pain at times, is managing the deep front splitter over troublesome driveways. That’s something you don’t need to worry about with the Elise.

“Ten minutes behind the wheel of an Exige S on a quiet, winding road and you are ruined. Whatever you drive, from that moment on, will always be benchmarked against the Lotus”

Lotus Exige S PP Specifications

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