Lotus Exige Roadster 2000 - 2001

Lotus Exige Roadster 2000 - 2001

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Bags of fun and enjoyment
  • Original design that makes you stand out
  • Excellent grip and driveability

Cons:

  • Slightly impractical
  • The cabin overheats quickly

Overview

The Lotus Exige is a hardtop version of the popular Elise targa top. It’s not a very practical car, but for the low price, it’s one of the best selling supercars in Europe. The first series of Exige was produced between 2000 and 2002 and almost 600 units were sold. After a short hiatus, a second generation was introduced in 2004.

Exterior and Interior

The design of the Exige is based on the original 1996 concept of Julian Thomson. Visually, the main difference between the Elise and the Exige is the roof, the latter having an aggressive-shape solid roof. Otherwise the cars are pretty similar. The Exige, however, looks more grown up and leaves a more serious impression. The car weighs just little over 2000 lbs which is a good achievement. It’s built like a proper sports car – with an extruded aluminium underframe and plastic body panels. This technology has ensured the car is rugged and light. It has also allowed the manufacturer to make body panels with sophisticated surfaces. The cabin of the Exige Coupe is very Spartan. The only comfort feature is the air con, which is not an excess and you appreciate that after you’ve driven just a few miles as the engine that is located behind the seats does a good job of heating up the cabin. It’s an advantage in winter whereas in summer the air con fights the engine to create a pleasing atmosphere in the cabin. The seats are hard and low but if you like the supercar feel, you’ll find the Exige comfortable. Taller drivers might feel that the cabin aggravates their natural sensation of claustrophobia, which very soon grows into sheer excitement. It slightly feels like driving a Formula car – at least the seating position is similar. The car is not very practical, you cannot do your week’s shopping in an Exige. Being a mid-engine car, there’s simply no boot space whatsoever.

Performance and Economy

The Exige delivers an absolutely amazing performance. It takes you from zero to 60mph in 4.7 seconds and can achieve 136mph. When you consider that the performance is almost as good as any serious supercar, you realise the value you really get from the Exige. It’s the cheapest performance car that can be bought. The sale price is reasonable and what’s even more important, is the daily maintenance which is as good and as docile as any family car. It does 30mpg and although it is expensive to insure and a little less ostentatious than a supercar, the Exige may become a shortcut to your boyhood dreams.

Like to Drive

The Exige is exciting to drive, but it is the bare minimum of a car. There’s almost no heat insulation, no sound insulation, every possible creature comfort is missing. Still, you find it impossible not to love the car. Being a mid-engine rear wheel drive car it has an amazing road hold, it is fiercely quick and noisy. Driving an Exige is pleasant both in the city and on a highway. The suspension is rather stiff, rather befitting for a sports car, but it is not uncomfortable. It even fares well on uneven surfaces. The steering is responsive and the 6-speed manual gearbox is joy to work with.

Faults and Repairs

The bodywork is what needs the most attention. It suffers from stone chips and if you manage to crack one of the body panels a repair is not possible, the panel has to be replaced. All Exige’s body panels are very expensive. The engine, although forced and tuned, is reliable and easy to repair. It’s just a simple Rover K engine and anyone with mechanical knowledge could repair it should something goes wrong. The engine is prone to misfires, which in turn kills the catalytic converter in no time so this should be checked carefully, as should the suspension.