Golden Gate Lotus Club

News - Lotus Federal Exige

  • New York Auto Show Exige

  • Federal Lotus Exige?
    March 23, 2005
    Photos by Atwell Haines, Lotus Enthusiasts Organization (LEO) & others

    Lotus brought an Exige to the 2005 New York Autoshow in what those close to project say "might" be a Federal version. Officials are coy, simply stating that there might be an announcement.

    Those close to the factory report rumors of work going on with the Fed to get the Exige into the US. The main hurdle being the DOT. Most likely the drivetrain would remain the same as the Fed Elise to get the blessing of the EPA. Waivers similar to those received for the Elise would be needed from the DOT.

    Visitors at the show have reported that the top air intake is blanked off and air bags are installed. The body is fitted with US mandated side markers.

    According to the on-line reporters at theCarConnection.com...

    It means "demanding," in French, and Group Lotus is counting on some of the most picky U.S. buyers to plunk their money down for the new Exige Coupe. The pint-sized hardtop shares its platform and most of its mechanicals with roadster Lotus launched last year, the Elise. That includes the Toyota-derived, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine making 190 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. With a stiff suspension based on Elise's performance package, the Exige is being aimed at potential buyers likely to want to do some serious racing, or at least log occasional track time. Every body panel, but for the doors, is new on Exige. The roof can be removed, though not easily, since it's designed to improve aerodynamics. So is the new front fascia, as well as the big rear wing. Add it all up, says product executive Simon Croft, "and it's like having a baby rhino sitting on your roof at 100 mph." Yet while the coupe's top speed dips 2 percent, to "just" 147 mph, the Exige's 0-60 times match the top-performing version of Elise, at 4.7 seconds.

    The Exige is expected to generate just a couple hundred sales a year, but every little bit counts, according to Kim Ogaard-Nielsen, the new CEO of Group Lotus plc. Since the launch of the Elise, 1800 copies have been sold in the U.S., which is expected to generate 50 percent of total Lotus sales. That's despite the automaker raising prices for the base roadster from the initial $39,900 to $42,900. That couldn't be helped, insisted Ogaard-Nielsen, considering the plunge in the U.S. dollar's value. Lotus is struggling to bring down production costs to avoid future price hikes - and to boost its profit margins. Adding other models to the mix will also help, of course, and an all-new flagship supercar is in final development, company officials confirmed. Expect it to hit market late in 2007. Yet another model line is certain to follow, the Danish executive hinted, noting that "We see ourselves as a three-model" company. "Something we'd like to explore is what a daily-use Lotus would be all about." The company will have some time to come up with the answer, as Ogaard-Nielsen doesn't expect that product to reach market until around 2010. By then, he is confident Lotus will be achieving global sales of 10,000 or more vehicles annually. The long-struggling company seems to be in better shape than ever, according to close observers, thanks to the support of its Malaysian parent, Proton. But the Asian manufacturer has made it clear, acknowledge Ogaard-Nielsen, that all future products will have to be specifically designed to meet global safety, emissions and lighting standards. The current version of the Elise is only permitted into the U.S. with a wink and a nod from federal authorities, who gave it a variance due to its extremely low volumes.

    From Automobile magazine - automobilemag.com

    Lotus has announced that it will bring its Exige--a rebodied, hardtop version of the Elise--to the United States this fall. Mechanically, the Exige will be identical to the U.S. Elise, which means a 1.8-liter four making 190 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. (We won't see the supercharged, 243-hp engine from the Europe-only 240-R.) The Exige will use the firmer suspension tuning of the Elise with the optional sport package, but the hardtop Lotus will have a cornering advantage over its open-topped counterpart because the Exige's unique bodywork creates so much additional downforce--80 lbs. more at 100 mph to be exact. All the Exige's body panels, save the doors, are unique. The increased downforce comes chiefly from four factors: the longer, reshaped nose; the front wind splitter; the rear wing; and the covered roof. The aerodynamic tweaks help the Exige scoot around the 2-mile Lotus test track two seconds faster than the Elise. Other changes for the Exige are limited to reshaped seats (bigger bolsters and cut-outs to fit a racing harness) and black wheels (either cast aluminum or the forged wheels from the Elise sport package). Only 200-300 Exiges will come to the States annually--against 2000-plus Elises--at a price estimated in the low- to mid-$50,000 range.


    2003-2005 Golden Gate Lotus Club - All rights reserved

    PO Box 117303, Burlingame, California 94011