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My Lotus Diary October 2003

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4th October 2003

EVO Magazine feature a test drive in the new Exige S2 this month. It's a development car due for launch at Geneva 2004 in March, but features the Toyoya 1.8-litre VVTLi engine, which will also be used in the USA variant of the Elise next year. This engine has variable valve timing and lift and delivers 189bhp @ 7800rpm and 133lb-ft at 6800rpm. As you can see, it needs to be worked hard to deliver the goods but comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox, which should help achieve this. This engine has a 8350rpm red line.

Most reviews of cars using the engne, that I've seen don't particularly rate it highly, the main criticism being the lack of torque. The Exige is the lightest car I've seen this engine in though, so acceleration is going to be swift. Having said that, the new Exige has gone up in weight. The Toyota engine and gearbox package add about 36kg over the K-series VVC package and anti-lock brakes, electric windows and air-conditioning are going to be standard on the new car, taking the weight to about 860kg. The original, standard Exige weighed about 780kg.

Interestingly, the Exige S2 car features some improvements to the bodywork, which should make it to the new Elise. These include a larger front clam, with larger radiator cooling vents on top and a deeper front skirt and air intake. The backend has also been improved in my view, through simplification on the styling front. The fake air vents outside of the rear lights have gone and the exhaust now has a single central outlet. On this exige, the rear spoiler has been mounted on the boot, making access to it easier. This rear spoiler looks a bit after-market though.

EVO don't seem to keen on the engine sound but the production cars gear-change is going to be a big leap of the K-series change apparently. Let's face it, it's going to have to be in the US market. Performance sounds good though, Lotus claim a 2 second advantage around the Hethel test track. One other thing that EVO do like is the way that Lotus have set up the ABS. It cuts in late to avoid getting in the way of driver experience, which is good. I've always thought ABS ought to be there as an option on the Exige and Elise, for us less experienced drivers who mainly do road miles.

In summary, the Toyota enginge seems to offer good track performance, much needed reliability at these power levels and decent mid-range for normal road use. It should make Lotus more competitive in the market.

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