Few companies can lay a greater claim to be the epitome of the ethos behind Motorclassica, the unique automotive event that takes places in Melbourne on 24-26 October, than Lotus, the inimitable British sports car and motorsport company founded by automotive legend Colin Chapman.
With every model it has produced regarded as a classic car, Lotus will be strongly represented in the classic car displays at Motorclassica and its modern range, also on display, continues the Lotus tradition of providing motoring enthusiasts with the closest experience to driving a racing car possible and at prices that humble other car makers, whether it is the entry level Lotus Elise or the Lotus Exige S V6, which provides supercar performance at very un-supercar prices.
Underlying this is a unique motorsport heritage and a world-class reputation for technical innovation. Lotus remains the only car maker to have won both Formula One and World Rally Championship titles and it has developed models that have collected touring and sports car titles around the world. Technology developed by Lotus has consistently changed Formula One and the company provides an engineering consultancy for many other car makers in a wide range of technological areas.
Today's unique range of Lotus sports cars will be represented at Motorclassica by the Lotus Elise in both entry level and supercharge Elise S variants as well as the Exige S in both coupe and Roadster versions.
The Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise is the epitome of the Lotus ethos of minimum weight and the minimum number of parts deployed in the most effective manner to produce a car that is entirely focussed on providing the driver with a driving experience that, in terms of performance, chassis, steering response and involvement is as close to a racing car as it is possible to achieve in a road going car. Yet, while the Elise is highly capable on the race track, it is more than capable of being a car for regular daily use
The normally aspirated 1.6 litre engine provides 100 kW, sufficient to push the lightweight Elise to 100 kmh in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 204 kmh. The chassis of the Lotus Elise is a blend of the mechanical and the electronic that provides a unique driving experience that is responsive, sharp, with perfect handling and, yet, at the same time safe, allowing both the expert and the novice to enjoy a superb driving experience on the road or the race track.
The Lotus Elise S
Developed from the standard Lotus Elise, the S variant is fitted with a supercharged 1.8 litre engine that boasts an extra 40 Nm of torque with significantly lower toque and power peaks, enabling the driver to even more fully and easily able to exploit the remarkable chassis abilities of the Elise with its new levels of drivability.
The new 2ZRFE engine fitted to the Elise S uses a Roots-type supercharger driven from the crankshaft by a belt, which means a lag-free performance boost that remains proportional to the engine speed. The new supercharger has been developed in partnership with Magnuson and incorporates the latest technology, including the Eaton TVS Twin Vortices Series that reduces noise, vibration and harshness compared to other forms of Supercharger.
The changes combine to enable the Elise S, on one hand, to blast to 100 kmh in 4.6 seconds and, where law permits, on to 160 kmh in 10.8 seconds, while also be able to boast a 10 per cent improvement in fuel consumption with a new combined fuel figure of 7.5 l/100 km and a CO2 figure of just 180 g/km.
The Lotus Exige S
The Lotus Exige S is the ultimate combination of compact size, low weight and big engine, in the form of a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine that punches out 257.5 kW and 400 Nm of torque with a weight of less than 1200 kgs, which is lighter than some of the smallest hatchbacks.
The result is performance that can only described as shattering. The blast to 100 kmh is dispatched in four seconds and continues unabated, as shown by a zero to 160 kmh time of 8.5 seconds, to a top speed of 274 kmh.
Of course power is nothing without control and, as would be expected from a company that built its legend on chassis design, the Lotus Exige S is as equally masterful in the corners as it is in a straight light.
Using the light, responsive steering to fling the Exige S into a corner invites an instantaneous response that is both accurate and resolved in its ability to corner at speeds and with lateral loads that reveal its remarkable track performance. At the same time, recognising that not all roads and even some race tracks are smooth, the chassis offers remarkable levels of compliance to smooth out bumps and maintain the maximum tyre footprint contact with the road surface for the highest levels of adhesion.
Of course the Exige S stops as well as it goes with AP Racing four piston clippers clamping themselves to massive 350 mm ventilated and cross drilled disks at the front and 332 disks at the rear, all backed by the latest four channel ABS anti-lock system.
The interior is just as focussed as the chassis and drivetrain. Built around the driver, everything required to execute the performance falls naturally to hand and is perfectly positioned while the instruments are in the ideal line of sight. The seat grips in the right places and provides comfort where needed, all of which combines to allow the driver to extract with ease the maximum excitement from the Exige S under all conditions.
Despite all of this, the Exige S is not some temperamental beast that can monster a race track and be a pain on the road to and from the track. It is, when required, smooth, docile and easy to drive, allowing everyday driving while the driver knows that a flex of the right foot, a flick of the hand or a twist of a wrist will mean an instantaneous supercar response.
The Lotus Exige S Roadster
The Exige S Roadster which, like its coupe counterpart offers an unrivalled combination of race-track orientated performance and on-road ability derived from the legendary sports car maker's unique motorsport experience, as well as the visceral experience of open top motoring with no price penalty – it is the same price as the Exige S coupe.
The Lotus Exige S Roadster demolishes the rush to 100 kmh in four seconds, continues to 160 kmh in 8.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 233 kmh
None of the exhilarating performance of the phenomenal Exige is compromised by the soft top, yet the driver is only 'two clicks and a roll' away from cruising in open-top style thanks to the lightweight, factory-fitted soft top. The Exige S Roadster is 10 kg lighter than the hardtop and modifications to the suspension – changes to the camber and a slightly thicker rear anti-roll bar, ensure that Exige Roadster maintains the benchmark standards set by the Exige S coupe.
Check out Autotrader's range of Lotus cars on sale.