The Exige is essentially a more-track-ready version of the already extreme Elise. The Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter four-cylinder that powers Lotus’ entire lineup has a Roots-type supercharger making 7 psi of boost and an air-to-air intercooler fed by the roof-mounted air scoop. Horsepower is up 30 to 220 at 7800 rpm and torque swells from 133 pound-feet to 165 at 5600 rpm. That’s not a huge gain, but Lotus doesn’t want to overstress the engine internals that are identical to the naturally aspirated version. While the power gain is just 16 percent, on the street, the Exige S feels at least 50-percent stronger, especially in the mid-rpm range. That’s because at 2500 rpm the new engine makes as much torque as the old engine’s peak. The previously feeble mid-range in naturally aspirated form was (and still is for the unchanged Elise) the worst part of the car and a fault of the peaky Toyota engine that doesn’t wake up until the 6200-rpm switchover point for the variable cam timing. The Exige S still uses the same two-position cam, but with the added torque, the switchover point is no longer perceptible. To the soundtrack, a dose of supercharger whine has been overlaid on the already fervent shriek of the high-revving four, and the redline remains at 8500 rpm despite the boost.
The car on offer has covered only 25,000 kms in 11 years and is an exceptional example. The previous owner had extensive modifications carried out by TRD (Toyota Racing Developments) and power is estimated at around 260HP. This is an exciting track car that just happens to be street legal!