More Geneva: the Lotus Exige S Roadster
A few folks have been modifying present Lotus Exige S cars, converting them into soft-tops (see comment by wallabyguy here), but now the factory does it for you. And it has made other alterations to make this a most desirable sports car.
This is part of Lotus’s comeback story. The firm has had lots of ups and downs but has always kept to the “less is more” mantra, and its new cars are finally getting the styling right as well. I think owner Proton (Malaysia) has done well by them.
The Exige S Roadster gives what is basically a track and rally car a little more class and some upgrades in appearance. Worldcarfans called it “an Elise with a bigger engine,” but now it’s better-looking too.
Performance comes from a blown 3.5-liter V6 (345 hp) that moves you to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and 0-100 in 8.5. Top speed is 145 mph. Best is its light weight—about 2,400 pounds. A 6-speed manual is standard; you can order Lotus’s Serial Precision Shift (SPS), with paddles and automated shifting.
There are two suspension settings, and you can get a Race Pack for the track. Interior can be ordered “plush” or in more stripped-down, spartan, typical Lotus style. This is what a modern sports car should be, in my always-humble opinion, and if I had the $65-70K that it will probably cost, I’d be a customer.
Now comes the ridiculous part: The car is not coming to the U.S. market, but will go to Europe and Asia. Well, maybe it’s not so ridiculous. That’s where the money is for sports cars. And Lotus has gotten back into rallying and endurance racing in a fairly big way, not a sport that has gained much traction in the U.S.
Proton has quashed rumors that it will sell the company and is sticking with plans for a 5-year financial and product turnaround. The business plan seems to be very ambitious, to say the least, and I’ll bet Lotus will rethink it yet again and cut back on number of cars and models.
But, in any case, the U.S. will provide too small a venue for its products. To sell such cars successfully in America would require a lot of money and marketing talent.
What could change everything is, of course, the economy. If things continue to go badly in Europe and pick up in the U.S., we might just get the Exige S Roadster. But don’t hold your breath.
The market for high-end or even mid-priced sports cars has declined in the U.S. Do you think it will come back?