In a car as purposeful as the Exige, it would be easy to forgive a ride that wouldn’t be fit to grace the inhabitants of an indoor kart circuit.

But such is the cleverness of the work that Lotus’s engineers achieve, and such is their knowledge of chassis tuning, that it actually skims across rough asphalt with, if not quite grace, then considerable aplomb for its type.

Matt Burt

Matt Burt

Executive Editor, Autocar
Track drivers should opt for the Exige Race 380 if they can

Lotus admits it considered power assistance for this car. But after weighing up trying to make it fit with all the other gubbins under the short front end, and given the weight and immediacy disadvantages that it would also bring, it opted to let Exige drivers man-up a bit and live with it.

Perhaps a slightly larger-diameter steering wheel would help, and it's lighter in the Roadster anyway, but any lingering concerns turn out to be short-lived when you take this car by the scruff and hustle it along. At that point the steering becomes magical, precise and pure, filtering most bad inputs and allowing feel and weighting to feed through like nothing else of its size or purpose. 

What that wheel is telling you is that you can place the car with millimetric accuracy and that there’s masses of grip to play with. That grip will relinquish at the front first under most conditions, unless you actively seek to unsettle the rear because there is no limited-slip differential. We’d like one as an option, for antics. For very regular track use, the Race 380 is the one to have, but even a standard-suspended Exige is massively capable.

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There are anti-lock brakes and a stability control system (to Lotus’s own tune) that always allows slip to varying degrees, through stages that culminate in the ability to be switched out completely. The brakes are indefatigable.

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