After an absence from the market place for 2 years, Lotus is
reintroducing the Lotus Exige – a car that at the time revolutionised the
hardcore sports coupé market despite being on sale for just over 18
The first generation Exige was introduced to the world in early 2000 as
a racecar for the road. Born out of the successful Lotus Sport Elise
racecar, which was campaigned throughout Europe with such success in 2000
and 2001, the Exige was hand built in low numbers for a few markets around
The second generation Exige, unveiled as a world debut at the Geneva
Motorshow in 2004, takes the same racecar-for-the-road philosophy and
applies it to the driver of today.
With phenomenal performance and handling, powered by an advanced 1.8
litre VVTL-i (Variable Valve Timing with Lift – intelligent) engine
producing a maximum power output of 141 kW and 181 Nm of torque, the Exige
sprints to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds and 160 km/h in 13.2 seconds before
reaching a top speed of 237 km/h.
Key to this phenomenal performance and handling is the total
aerodynamic package (which gives 41.2 kg of downforce at 160 km/h - 19.3
kg: front and 21.9 kg: rear) and light weight, the latter made possible
through innovative engineering and clever design; indeed the Exige weighs
in at 875 kg - unladen with no options - giving a power to weight ratio of
161 kW/t and 4.56 kg/PS
The Exige in More Detail
Being a true mid-engine sportscoupé, the high tech engine is located
behind the cockpit and in front of the driven rear wheels. Power comes
from the state-of-the-art 2ZZ-GE 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 16-valve VVTL-i
(Variable Valve Timing and Lift-Intelligent) engine linked to the C64
six-speed gearbox. The engine and gearbox combination, sourced from
Toyota, was chosen as the ideal engine for the Exige and perfect for the
Lotus brand philosophies.
The lightweight engine, with a compact metal matrix composite alloy
cylinder block has been subject to a rigorous testing and development
programme which, as part of Lotus’ key federal Elise programme, has
involved over half a million miles of testing in a wide range of extreme
climate conditions from the Arctic Circle to the Arizona and Nevada
deserts and at altitude in Colorado. This is in addition to Toyota’s world
renowned development and testing programme that had already been applied
to the engine prior to the installation in the Exige.
To enable this class leading engine to carry the Lotus driving DNA, a
brand new, custom-engineered Lotus T4 engine management system (EMS) has
been developed. The software for the EMS was designed and developed by
Lotus specifically for the Exige. This bespoke management system and the
extensive calibration and validation work ensures that the Exige has
unique performance characteristics perfectly suited to the fast road and
The engine management system enables the VVTL-i system to select the
optimum camshaft profile, lift and timing across the full range of engine
operating conditions. This interaction between the Lotus T4 EMS and the
VVTL-i system gives the Exige its optimum linear torque characteristics,
peaking at 181 Nm at 6800 rpm with the peak power of 141 kW at 7800 rpm.
The very high revving engine is governed to a maximum engine speed of
8500 rpm on up changes (8000 rpm at steady state). The change from the low
speed cam to the high speed cam is controlled by the Lotus engine
management system to achieve a smooth transition, which will not upset the
balance of the car. This change occurs at around 6200 rpm, but can vary by
a few hundred rpm depending on engine operating conditions. The return
switching from the high speed to low speed cam occurs at 5800 rpm to
extend the operating range of the engine on the high speed cam. This helps
the enthusiastic driver stay on the high output cam between gear changes.
In order to protect the engine during the warm up phase, the maximum
engine speed is limited to 6000 rpm and is restricted to the lower speed
cam when the engine coolant temperature is below 70 °C.
A tell-tale red LED located in the centre of the instrument binnacle
illuminates to indicate to the driver the optimum point to change gears.
The lightweight C64 six-speed gearbox (with an aluminium casing) is
fitted with an all-new Lotus designed and developed shift operating
mechanism. With the closest ratios and gearset afforded by the
transmission, the gearbox offers a fast, precise and light gearshift,
ensuring drivers have total control and flexibility to apply the power
exactly as and when required.
A bespoke exhaust system with a bifurcated downpipe exits at the rear
of the car through the centre of the rear diffuser.
The Exige is bestowed with the performance through lightweight expected
of a Lotus with a power to weight ratio of 161 kW/t (4.56 kg/PS) and a
0-100 km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds and 0-160km/h in 13.2 seconds before
reaching a top speed of 237 km/h.
Of course the Exige with its small 1.8 litre engine is Euro IV
Emissions compliant and returns 8.8 l/100km on the combined cycle, as well
as the very low figure of 208 g/km of CO2 emissions – figures usually
unheard of for supercars.
Of course, the Exige isn’t all about straight line performance. The
Exige is one of the quickest and safest cars from A to B and around a
circuit. Key to this incredible performance is the aerodynamic package,
which creates 41.2 kg or downforce at 160 km/h (19.3 kg front and 21.9 kg
rear). This downforce ratio between front (47%) and rear (53%) is of
course balanced and remains constant at the speeds of which the Exige is
- This class leading aerodynamic package is provided through the aid of
- Completely flat underside of the car – provided by the elegantly
simple strong yet light extruded and bonded aluminium tub
- Black anodised rear diffuser which helps promote the "Venturi
effect" underneath the car
- Deep front splitter which sits just 108 mm from the ground (giving
just enough ramp angle clearance) whilst still maintaining the
aerodynamic properties and of course the aggressive stance
- Fixed rear wing that is set at the optimum 11.5 degree angle for the
best compromise between downforce and drag.
Lotus specific wheels and tyres
Lotus ride and handling engineers worked with Yokohama to develop a
bespoke A048 tyre (rated W) and annotated with "LTS". These soft compound
tyres were chosen to maximise grip and achieve the ride and handling
targets set by Lotus.
Unique black lightweight eight-spoke wheels (16" front and 17" rear)
complete the wheel and tyre package, as if the Exige has just come off the
race track; in fact it probably just did - as Lotus envisages many
customers of the Exige may take part in track days, which are becoming
increasingly popular around the world.
The legendary chassis
Of course, the Exige is a Lotus and as such has a world leading
chassis. Based around the revolutionary and award winning extruded and
bonded aluminium tub, with lightweight steel rear subframe, used in the
Elise 111R, the Exige uses stiffer Lotus Sport springs and dampers to
provide minimum body roll and to exploit the exceptional level of
aerodynamic performance and downforce, and the high levels of grip
provided by the Yokohama A048 tyres.
Cooling and air management
Lotus expects that some Exiges will spend most of their time being
driven hard – indeed this is exactly what it was conceived for. Therefore
the extra levels of heat from the brakes and engine needed to be managed.
At the front of the Exige are extra air ducts (for the optional oil
coolers, which are part of the Performance Pack). To keep the brakes cool
under the very high loads that are expected with hard driving, brake ducts
are located just behind the front wheels. Towards the rear of the Exige,
large side air intakes and a roof scoop, provide much needed air to
circulate around the engine bay.
All grilles, including the rear engine cover are covered in a
lightweight steel mesh.
All Lotus products elegantly fuse form and function by combining the
optimum engineered solution with a dynamic and elegant design that gives
it a distinctive Lotus signature. The design project, undertaken by the
Lotus Design Team lead by Russell Carr, took the core values of Lotus and
the first generation Exige and applied them to the 2004 Exige. Signature
racecar features such as the roof scoop, rear wing, deep front splitter
and fast back roof have been carefully developed whilst new features such
as the engine cover vents, side intakes and lightweight mesh grills and a
unique graphic further differentiate the Exige from other products in the
All the Exige body panels are made from strong, and lightweight GRC
(Glass Reinforced Composite). Three new paint colours, in addition to the
current Lotus range, are introduced solely for the Exige in 2004, these
being Chrome Orange, Graphite Grey and Krypton Green.
Lightweight but strong composite sports seats hold the driver under the
high g-forces that will be experienced on cornering, acceleration and
braking. The small 320 mm offset steering wheel is perfectly suited to
coaxing and guiding the Exige along some of the finest roads and around
the most challenging of circuits. The lightweight extruded aluminium
pedals are perfectly positioned for efficient heel and toeing – a
technique that many drivers will wish to perfect to be able to exploit the
performance of the car and drive it how it was meant to be driven.
Twin instrumentation dials show road speed and engine speed (up to
10,000 rpm) with the graphics and orange back lighting showing the key
information clearly and efficiently.
A four speaker Blaupunkt stereo system with CD player is provided as
standard along with a radio receiver wiring loom including a dipole aerial
kit located in the front of the Exige.
Air conditioning, weighing in at a minimal 15 kg, is standard in some
markets, where high ambient temperatures would otherwise prohibit the
driving of such a high performing sports coupé. It is available as a cost
option in all other markets.
Brakes - Track tuned ABS system to help out when needed!
The servo-assisted four-channel system individually monitors and
distributes braking force to each wheel as required, enhancing braking
performance and minimising stopping distance. Of course this track tuned
ABS system does not take over from the skill of the driver but instead is
initiated under panic conditions or when the driver is too heavy on the
brakes and would normally break traction. The specifically tuned
initiation point of the ABS system allows a skilled driver to maximise the
potential of the braking system through the utilisation of forward weight
transfer as with a non-ABS system. In the event of the driver demanding
more braking performance than is possible, only then does the system
intervene to optimise the force generated at the wheel. Therefore, on
normal driving, even hard driving, the driver would not expect to feel the
Exige ABS system in operation.
Standard equipment for the Exige includes: Blaupunkt Lausanne radio
CD-R/W player and Blaupunkt high performance front and rear speakers,
auxiliary front driving lights and central door locking. For the Japanese
market specifically, central door looking is only included as part of the
optional Touring Pack. The Blaupunkt Lausanne radio CD-R/W player is not
available in the Japanese market but a Blaupunkt BPV755 radio CD-RW player
is available as an option (not part of the standard specification or the
The Touring Pack (not available with the Performance Pack) provides a
combination of options designed to increase comfort and convenience, while
still maintaining the essence of a Lotus sports car. This pack contains:
- Full carpet set with a lightweight aluminium passenger footrest
- Blaupunkt Woodstock DAB radio, CD-R/W and MP3 player (not available
- Full Alcantara trim
- Sun visors
- Interior stowage net
The Performance Pack provides the Exige with options that will appeal
to the driver who enjoys spending the majority of time taking part in
track days. This pack contains:
- Sports seats with the Exige Logo on the headrest
- 4 point harness (dealer fit for track use only)
- Cross bar
- Acrylic capped door panels
- Carbon effect door inserts
- Twin oil coolers
Lightweight forged wheels are available as an option for the Lotus
Air conditioning is available as an option for the Lotus Exige
Specification variations around the world:
Australia, Japan and other Asia Pacific markets: Air conditioning and
twin oil coolers are fitted as standard equipment. The lightweight forged
wheels form part of the optional Performance Pack in these markets.
The Lotus Exige goes on sale in March 2004.
Lotus Exige Specifications in Metric and Imperial Units mentioned in
the above text
192 PS (141 kW)
41.2 kg at 160km/h
90.6 lbs at 100mph
Weight (no options)
Power to weight (no options)
161 kW/t (4.56kg/PS)
0-100 km/h in 5.2 s
0-160 km/h in 13.2 s
0-60 mph in 4.9 s
0-100 mph in 13.2 s
Weight of Air-conditioning Unit
Steering Wheel Diameter
Front Splitter Height
Fuel Economy (combine cycle)