Lotus Exige S (S2) | Spotted

Lotus Exige S (S2) | Spotted

Sunday 12th January

Lotus Exige S (S2) | Spotted

How to spend new hot hatch money is one of our favourite conundrums. The Exige is an oft-cited answer



Lotus is undergoing its biggest transformation yet, and nowhere is the shift more apparent than in the upcoming Evija EV. The 2,000hp electric hypercar represents so many firsts for the British brand that it’s barely recognisable as a Lotus product at all. Its sub-1.7-tonne kerbweight, while admittedly lighter than equivalent rivals, feels somewhat un-Lotus. Even more so than the lack of engine, completely alien design philosophy and, well, plenty more attached to its carbon fibre monocoque – which itself is another Lotus first.

Impressive as it is, the Evija isn't a signal of what’s to come across the board, it’s a signal of intent to show that Lotus is aiming high on the world's biggest stage. Beneath its mission statement we expect to see a lineup which includes more traditional offerings, designed to succeed the purebred line-up of Elises, Exiges and Evoras. These are the cars that have carried Lotus through difficult years and maintained it in the face of financial difficulty. It's still the best in the business when it comes to chassis work.


The Exige in particular has done a stellar job of illustrating that fact. The S3 has inevitably put on a few pounds compared to its predecessors thanks largely to the addition of a 3.5-litre V6 engine at its heart, but it still tips the scales at 1.1 tonnes. It remains a featherweight in 2020. Still, some purists lust most after the S2 because while it has two fewer cylinders, with even the supercharged Exige S weighed just 935kg.

With the addition of a blower, its Toyota-supplied 1.8-litre four-cylinder produces 221hp and 159lb ft of torque, which is plenty in a car liable to blow away if you sneeze too close to it. Naturally, it’s got manual gearbox, but 62mph still comes in just 4.3 seconds and top speed is a very respectable 148mph, so it’s not like short gearing is the explanation for its pace. Of course, with so little mass onboard the S2 Exige is just as athletic through the bends, its short dimensions and the instantaneous responses afforded by a β€˜charged motor meaning it's perfectly in line with the philosophies of Colin Chapman – and effervescently rewarding to drive quickly as a result.


The Series 1 is, admittedly, the rawest Exige offering. The earlier platform is lighter and the K-Series engine – while prone to head gasket failure – is arguably the more exciting, even if it lacks the Toyota unit’s peak punch. But the S2 is generally regarded as offering almost all of the S1’s class and capability in a far more rounded, not to mention reliable, package. And, let’s face it, used values for S2s mean they’re now comfortably the best value option for Exige ownership. You’ll need more than Β£30k to open your search for an S1 on PH’s classifieds, meaning there’s barely anything between these rare early cars and far younger, V6-powered S3s. By comparison there are two S2s presently on PH for under Β£25k.

Today’s Spotted is neither of those examples, because we’re opting to spend just short of twenty-eight grand on a rather lovely red Exige S. It’s got 46,000 miles on the clock, a fair amount for a 13-year-old car like this, but most importantly its latest custodian is an Exigephile who came back to Lotus ownership after selling a McLaren. This is their third example of Lotus’s mid-engined sports car, and it looks to be in fine shape both inside and out, with a healthy supply of additional carbon parts added by the current owner. It hasretained a full-service history, both keys and is sat on a set of new boots. Oh, and the only reason it’s being sold is the arrival of a manual Audi R8 Spyder. Say no more.


SPECIFICATION - LOTUS EXIGE S (S2)

Engine: 1,796cc, four-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 221@7,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 159@5,500rpm
MPG: 31
CO2: 216g/km
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 46,000
Price new: c. Β£35,000
Yours for: Β£27,950

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Author
Discussion

TheOrangePeril

Original Poster:

394 posts

129 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Although far less affordable than an Elise (for obvious reasons) I'd love one of these as a daily driver. Tiny footprint so perfect for parking, plenty of room for shopping on the passenger side, can even strap in your bags for life securely with a racing harness if so specced. Perfect.

G111MDS

110 posts

40 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
And you can still have the roof off too. Fantastic cars smile


twisted2fit

117 posts

165 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
For that money, as nice as an exige is, id suggest a lotus Evora NA

Turn7

16,779 posts

170 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
twisted2fit said:
For that money, as nice as an exige is, id suggest a lotus Evora NA
Not for me, I dont think the Evora is anywhere near as nice to look at or as single minded...

I loved the Supercharged car I drove for a Summer, that whine was addictive.

Mark83

498 posts

150 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
TheOrangePeril said:
Although far less affordable than an Elise (for obvious reasons) I'd love one of these as a daily driver. Tiny footprint so perfect for parking, plenty of room for shopping on the passenger side, can even strap in your bags for life securely with a racing harness if so specced. Perfect.
As a former-owner who had to wait for the driver of the car parked next to me to return so I could get in my car, it's not so perfect everyday. You need the doors wide open to get in and out.



Edited by Mark83 on Sunday 12th January 10:03

Exige77

4,178 posts

140 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Disappointed the new Lotus EV hyper car has lost 800Bhp.

Doesn’t anyone proof read their articles ?

Feirny

1,729 posts

96 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Mark83 said:
TheOrangePeril said:
Although far less affordable than an Elise (for obvious reasons) I'd love one of these as a daily driver. Tiny footprint so perfect for parking, plenty of room for shopping on the passenger side, can even strap in your bags for life securely with a racing harness if so specced. Perfect.
As a former-owner who had to wait for the driver of the car parked next to me to return so I could get in my car, it's not so perfect everyday. You need the doors wide open to get in and out.



Edited by Mark83 on Sunday 12th January 10:03
I was going to say similar. Not ideal parking at all, the doors are bloody awkward.

sixpistons

181 posts

72 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Mark83 said:
As a former-owner who had to wait for the driver of the car parked next to me to return so I could get in my car, it's not so perfect everyday. You need the doors wide open to get in and out.



Edited by Mark83 on Sunday 12th January 10:03
This. These are wonderful cars, but if you had to use them everyday you’d grow to hate it very quickly. I used my vx220 everyday for a couple of weeks while my sensible car was off the road and I couldn’t wait to get the bmw back. No power steering, poor steering lock and crap rear visibility makes manoeuvring a pain, it’s really noisy and tiring to drive and I hated leaving in a tight car park because it’s hard to get out of and a minor bump can destroy the clam which is hugely expensive to fix. However, on a Sunday morning in the Peak District though, almost nothing will be more enjoyable, regardless of price. Buy as a toy and you’ll never grow tired of it.

bobo79

169 posts

98 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
👆this. And the stress of returning to your parking slot to discover someone has parked next to you slightly too close so you can’t get in. Or worse still if someone has reversed into you (because they didn’t see the car in their mirror) cracking the clam.

Anyone who says they are a great daily is either a psychopath or has never driven one.

Love them, though.

Jonathan-pb7yo

3 posts

49 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
I used a vx220 as my daily for 2 years and loved every minute.

Granted I was much younger and much more forgiving of the compromises. Such as virtually no heater and ice on the inside of everything in the winter but 10 years later I look back on it as my most enjoyable driving period. It genuinely never went wrong and was peanuts to run and service, I also didn’t lose a penny in depreciation. Unlike many ‘sensible@ cars.

I would urge anyone in their youth to daily something like a lotus before you get too old and care too much about convenience in your life.

In terms of the exige s2 - a fabulous car I have been fortunate enough to have driven on track as well as road but it’s not even 50 percent the visceral event and drama the s1 provides.

Everyone needs to try a s1 exige. I appreciate this is just my opinion but for me it is the absolute pinnacle of lotus. The purest version of the philosophy and an unrepeatable masterpiece.

BigTed234

2 posts

82 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
What a bunch of fairies! I daily drove an S2 Elise for 7 years and put 70,000 on it.

bobo79

169 posts

98 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Jonathan-pb7yo said:
I used a vx220 as my daily for 2 years and loved every minute.
Granted I was much younger and much more forgiving of the compromises. Such as virtually no heater and ice on the inside of everything in the winter but 10 years later I look back on it as my most enjoyable driving period. It genuinely never went wrong and was peanuts to run and service, I also didn’t lose a penny in depreciation. Unlike many ‘sensible@ cars.

I would urge anyone in their youth to daily something like a lotus before you get too old and care too much about convenience in your life.
I do think there's something to it being a more viable compromise when younger. But as a 40 year old I would not be able to do it daily any more due to:

Terrible visibility reversing.
De-mister being entirely notional and having to wait 15 minutes before setting off on a winter morning so it's possible to see out of the windscreen.
Laughable headlights.
Lack of power steering (and wider front tyres on an Exige) making parking a pain.
Fear of parking near anyone else in case they crack the clam and ensure the car is off the road for months while Lotus get round to supplying a new one.
The general level of ridicule as others make fun out of me removing my (6ft 5) frame from the car in the office car park.
Motorway drone
Laughable build quality

Many of these matter a lot less in your 20s and 30s. The high points are the same regardless, though. And reliability and servicing costs are both excellent, as mentioned.

itcaptainslow

2,492 posts

85 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
bobo79 said:
Jonathan-pb7yo said:
I used a vx220 as my daily for 2 years and loved every minute.
Granted I was much younger and much more forgiving of the compromises. Such as virtually no heater and ice on the inside of everything in the winter but 10 years later I look back on it as my most enjoyable driving period. It genuinely never went wrong and was peanuts to run and service, I also didn’t lose a penny in depreciation. Unlike many ‘sensible@ cars.

I would urge anyone in their youth to daily something like a lotus before you get too old and care too much about convenience in your life.
I do think there's something to it being a more viable compromise when younger. But as a 40 year old I would not be able to do it daily any more due to:

Terrible visibility reversing.
De-mister being entirely notional and having to wait 15 minutes before setting off on a winter morning so it's possible to see out of the windscreen.
Laughable headlights.
Lack of power steering (and wider front tyres on an Exige) making parking a pain.
Fear of parking near anyone else in case they crack the clam and ensure the car is off the road for months while Lotus get round to supplying a new one.
The general level of ridicule as others make fun out of me removing my (6ft 5) frame from the car in the office car park.
Motorway drone
Laughable build quality

Many of these matter a lot less in your 20s and 30s. The high points are the same regardless, though. And reliability and servicing costs are both excellent, as mentioned.
You’ve nailed it, I used to run a S1 as a daily and loved it, but gradually the impracticalities listed above (the clamshell damage fear being a particular one) meant I retreated to a “normal” car.

Not the end of the world though as it made every time I got in the Elise a more special experience. I’m now on a S3, love it and miss driving it, especially over the winter. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I look forward to every time I take it out for a drive.

CooperS

3,897 posts

168 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Jonathan-pb7yo said:
I used a vx220 as my daily for 2 years and loved every minute.

Granted I was much younger and much more forgiving of the compromises. Such as virtually no heater and ice on the inside of everything in the winter but 10 years later I look back on it as my most enjoyable driving period. It genuinely never went wrong and was peanuts to run and service, I also didn’t lose a penny in depreciation. Unlike many ‘sensible@ cars.

I would urge anyone in their youth to daily something like a lotus before you get too old and care too much about convenience in your life.

In terms of the exige s2 - a fabulous car I have been fortunate enough to have driven on track as well as road but it’s not even 50 percent the visceral event and drama the s1 provides.

Everyone needs to try a s1 exige. I appreciate this is just my opinion but for me it is the absolute pinnacle of lotus. The purest version of the philosophy and an unrepeatable masterpiece.
I had an Elise S2 111R and eco this completely.

I was 28 and dailyed in Scotland. Once in and warmed up it was great fun but you had to want to have an experience every drive.

Otherwise the ice cold gear knob or door push buttons that would freeze would challenge my patience. Wearing ear plugs so I could drive 40 miles along the motorway as I had a stage 2 exhaust wouldbt be as fun as it felt at the time. Also my 30" suit trousers didn't much appreciate stretching in and out and I lost a couple along the way. So my 36" self today would find it even more of a drag.

I'd have a Exige 220 as a weekend toy in a heartbeat but couldn't think about commuting in one again.

Also still cry a little inside to think I nearly bought a well used Lotus Exige S1 with Aircon for 21k (was put off by the rawness - yep I'm an idiot) but later this itch lead me to get a Elise when I moved to Edinburgh.

Black S2K

921 posts

198 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Jonathan-pb7yo said:
I used a vx220 as my daily for 2 years and loved every minute.

Granted I was much younger and much more forgiving of the compromises. Such as virtually no heater and ice on the inside of everything in the winter but 10 years later I look back on it as my most enjoyable driving period. It genuinely never went wrong and was peanuts to run and service, I also didn’t lose a penny in depreciation. Unlike many ‘sensible@ cars.

I would urge anyone in their youth to daily something like a lotus before you get too old and care too much about convenience in your life.

In terms of the exige s2 - a fabulous car I have been fortunate enough to have driven on track as well as road but it’s not even 50 percent the visceral event and drama the s1 provides.

Everyone needs to try a s1 exige. I appreciate this is just my opinion but for me it is the absolute pinnacle of lotus. The purest version of the philosophy and an unrepeatable masterpiece.
This is a very cogent post.

I only got the drive the S1 Elise way back when and that really was special - so I am now definitely too old!



Helicopter123

6,906 posts

105 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
A proper car, right on the edge of being a daily proposition, but on the right road, very little can touch it.

ate one too

1,735 posts

95 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
BigTed234 said:
What a bunch of fairies! I daily drove an S2 Elise for 7 years and put 70,000 on it.
Top lurking BigTed ... I presume you are made of rubber and have tinnitus now ... wink

Fonzey

1,060 posts

76 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Amazing cars (biased) of you're actually going to go out and use it. As a car for posing in there are much better ways to spend your money but on the right road or on a track day they're a fantastic balance of performance, enjoyment/dynamics and manageable running costs. Great fun to maintain/modify too if you're that way inclined.

Don't daily mine as I just don't enjoy day to day driving in general, so would rather do it in comfort and not care where I park etc, but nothing about the mechanicals would really stop you from using every day.

Gad-Westy

9,755 posts

162 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
An Elise would be far easier to live with daily if that is the plan. An Elise offers far better rearward visibility, Less likely to be trapped in a car park as you can always roll the roof back and more compliant suspension. Like for like, I think an Elise is generally cheaper as well and there are far more to choose from.

Despite all that, I've just bought an S2 Exige S. This is absolutely not a rational purchase though there are elements that can be rationalised. But for me the reason was simple, I've wanted one ever since I saw the first reviews appear of them in Evo and on Top Gear. For a long time, they've either been out of reach for my circumstances or couldn't be justified. I did run an S1 Elise as a daily when I was in my 20's and at that age it was very doable but I wouldn't bother now. I'm far too old and boring and stiff of back for that sort of thing now but it's not as tough as some might suggest. The S2 Exige is probably more hospitable in some ways (air con, carpets and a cup holder in mine!) but rearward visibility and not being able to remove the roof (I know you technically can but I think they look a bit odd like that) would be a chore for the boring stuff.

I bought mine as a pure weekend toy, maybe a little track use but it'll probably never do the commute.. I really loved the idea of an S1 Exige but no usable storage space and a far more temperamental drive train put me off. They're really special though. I didn't rally consider too much else. An older 911 might have been nice but I suspect there is far more to keep on top of. A caterham would be fantastic but I knew deep down I'd never use it. Evoras drive brilliantly and the kids would fit in but it didn't pull the heart strings. Most other stuff doesn't really have the same appeal. The Exige S2 strikes me a perfect compromise. Looks fantastic, still feels mega light, trademark steering, looks like a miniature GT car and certainly feels like that with the view from the driver seat too and it's plenty quick enough for the road. Really feels like a special car. I'm still very much in the honeymoon period but right now I'm pretty happy with my lot.

Sion111R

70 posts

41 months

Sunday 12th January
quotequote all
Had an S2 Supercharged 111R whilst well in to my forties.
Sold it. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Only saving grace is I still have an S1. And a modified Type R integra as a daily.
I am now some way in to my fifties.
Don’t pigeonhole cars by what age you are or what will people think of you.
Enjoy them whilst you can.