Is Sean about to ditch the Lotus Exige Cup 260 for another model?
|Date acquired:||May 2012|
|Kilometres this month:||1390|
|Costs this month:||$0|
|L/100km this month:||12.0|
Don’t fret Exige lovers, my Cup’s still in regular use and I must have driven about 7000km over the past nine months. Whether it’s mooching around the neighbourhood or for longer jaunts into the mountains, the event of driving the Cup is never less than impressive. Okay, it’s a bit buzzy with the supercharger whining away just a few inches from your head. But if you drive it one notch back from the throttle stop, it’s quite civilised compared to a ‘normal’ car.
That’s the key thing: the Exige NEVER feels like a normal car. And that’s good. It’s more like owning a rollercoaster that happens to double-up as transport. For the gear change to be your best friend, you have to concentrate and not just flap a paddle. As it picks up speed you can feel the Cup hunker down and settle. At 4200rpm the variable cam timing kicks-in and stays with you up to a heady 8500rpm cut-off. Both suspension and steering seem to be hardwired to the road’s texture. All these elements and more combine to make you feel like you’re wearing the car, not just driving it. Even at lower speeds the Exige feels full of life due to streaming feedback and sensations.
Now, I view myself very much as a car enthusiast, not just a Lotus man, and over the past month I have been experimenting with a few other sports cars. First up was the Alfa 4C. Having owned a few Alfas in the past I was really keen to see this car in the flesh. Its styling and stance are absolutely bang-on and of course the carbon tub is very special. Next was a surprise drive in the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG thanks to fellow crankandpiston.com contributor Osie. Apart from the front seats, which I loved, it was a bit too close to my Volkswagen Golf GTI daily driver. And then there was the 2013MY Cayman S. Very importantly, the one I tested had a manual transmission, which simply makes the car complete. With such a lovely gear change, compete with rev match, why option the PDK? You just end up one step away from the action. Last but not least was a Lotus Evora S IPS, which manages to keep a lot of the ‘Lotusness’ I like in a more civilised package. Priced right, I’m sure it would give the Cayman a good challenge.
So where does all this get me? Well, even the best of these are fundamentally ‘a very nice car’… but that’s a bit like a father trying to choose the right boy for his daughter. I don’t want ‘very nice’: my GTI does that trick. I want to be smacked round the face by the kind of gnarly fun that my current Exige offers. Apart from the new 991 GT3 (which is a bit rich for me) there’s one car I really want to try: the 2014 Exige S V6. When Lotus Middle East gets its act together, only then will it be decision time.
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