2006 Lotus Exige Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Lotus Exige Coupe

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Lotus Exige Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 190 hp @ 7800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2006 Lotus Exige

  • By most measures, the Lotus Exige is a miserable little car. But Lotus didn't build it to be a grocery-getter. As a weekend track-day weapon, the Exige is unsurpassed.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Ultralightweight chassis, uninhibited steering, racetrack-oriented design, low volume ensures rarity.

  • Cons

    Spartan interior, difficult entry and exit, poor outward visibility, peaky power delivery, ride quality more Formula One than grand touring, limited dealer network.

  • What's New for 2006

    The Lotus Exige is a fixed-roof version of the Lotus Elise; it's being imported into the North American market for the first time in 2006.

Full 2006 Lotus Exige Review

What's New for 2006

The Lotus Exige is a fixed-roof version of the Lotus Elise; it's being imported into the North American market for the first time in 2006.

Introduction

For such a congested, dreary and drizzly island, the United Kingdom sure does conjure up some pretty amazing sports cars. For 2006, one of its most dramatic products, the Lotus Exige, arrives on American shores. The Exige is based on Lotus' Elise roadster, and has already been on sale in Europe since 2005. (There was also an Exige version of the first-generation Elise. Neither first-gen version was officially imported into the United States.) Like the Elise, the Exige is a small, lightweight sports car packing a manically revving Toyota engine. Aluminum is used for the chassis' construction and features are kept to a minimum. Curb weight is a little more than 2,000 pounds; for reference, a Porsche Cayman S checks in at almost 3,000 pounds.

The main differences between the Exige and Elise are appearance and handling. The Exige's body modifications, including a fixed roof panel, sculpted engine cover, front-air splitter and rear wing, are intended to increase downforce at high speeds. At 100 mph, Lotus says that the Exige generates an additional 90 pounds of downforce (as opposed to the Elise at the same speed). This probably won't be very useful for going to get a pack of cigarettes from the local mini mart, but it extends the car's limits on a racetrack. The Exige also comes standard with the equipment found in the Elise's Sport Pack. This includes wider front tires, lightweight forged alloy wheels, barely legal Yokohama rubber, twin oil coolers and a stiffer sport suspension. For the true enthusiast, there's also a Track Pack that features an adjustable suspension.

Considering the Exige's performance potential, the price of admission is relatively modest. But this is not a mass-market car. The side effects of its focused performance, including a very stiff ride and minimal storage and safety equipment, make it a pretty miserable car for daily use. Most buyers in this market will be happier with the new Corvette Z06 or Cayman S. Wisely, Lotus doesn't plan on importing more than about 200 to 300 Exiges. And for the eventual handful of owners, the street-legal racecar experience won't get any better than this.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Exige is a coupe version of the two-seat, rear-wheel-drive, midengined Elise roadster. A CD player and air conditioning are standard (the A/C can be removed to save weight), but overall the Exige is quite spartan. Several option packages offer a bit of customization. The Touring Pack aims to slightly improve comfort through leather seating, power windows, upgraded audio, a storage net, additional sound-deadening material and full carpeting. The Track Pack sends the Exige in the opposite direction; it comes with adjustable dampers, an adjustable front stabilizer bar, an additional rear suspension brace and interior fittings for a race-oriented harness. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels with 195/50R16 Yokohama Advan A048 tires are found up front; 17s with 225/45R17 rubber are in back. A limited-slip differential, a feature that improves acceleration and power delivery when exiting corners, is optional.

Powertrains and Performance

Power for the Exige comes from a Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Lotus fitted unique intake and exhaust components, as well as a reworked engine controller, to broaden the engine's power band and push peak horsepower to 190 at 7,800 rpm. Torque peaks at 138 pound-feet at 6,800 rpm. Lotus claims a 0-to-60 time of just 4.9 seconds and a drag-limited top speed of 147 mph. Fuel economy, at 24 mpg city/29 mpg highway, is quite respectable.

Safety

Don't expect much more than federally mandated safety equipment on the Exige. A four-wheel antilock brake system is included, but neither stability control nor side airbags are available. A traction control system is optional.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Exige's minimalist design carries into the interior. The controls are simple and there's not much room available for storage. The composite sport seats provide plenty of support, but the car's fixed roof and wide sills make entry and exit particularly challenging for any human more than 3 feet tall. The trunk is rated at 4 cubic feet of capacity, which is enough for a few wedged-in grocery bags and not much else.

Driving Impressions

Because of its 1-ton curb weight, super-sticky tires and unassisted steering, the Exige is pretty much the most precise-handling car available for 2006 (Elise excepted, of course). No other car feels more eager to go where it's pointed. The Exige's body modifications do make a difference, but only at the higher speeds seen at a racetrack. On the move, the engine is tractable enough for low-speed work, but certainly the most grins come when the tach is past 6,000 rpm. Because of its sport-tuned suspension, though, the Exige does ride quite harshly on normal pavement. The brakes are simply phenomenal and provide fade-free performance in nearly every situation.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



New lotus owner

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Lotus Exige 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

I researched this car for a while before I bought it. The car is fantastic to drive. The interior space is comfortable but yes it is somewhat spartan. However, it is a sport car and not a luxury car. The acceleration is crazy fast. The feel of the car while driving is like being part of the car itself. I have the upgraded stereo and the touring package so I can listen to great music and smell the wonderful scent of leather. Imagine a smooth ribbon of highway, the sun on your shoulder and your hands wrapped around a machine that is capable of unleashing a fury of raw energy and you are in command. This car is worth every penny and the few negatives, like high maintenances charges are worth it.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Exige, mighty mini supercar

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Lotus Exige 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

Exige will take you're breath away. Not a practical utilitarian car by any means. This car car is designed for one purpose: to be driven on back twisty roads where the adrenaline flows through your veins. This is a "me" car that spells out individuality with F1 roots. This car is for serious drivers in a small niche track drivers, car enthusiasts and those that want pure performance without killing the pocket book. From its 150lb chassis to the hand layer fiber body it is definitely worth the wait for an order to be processed for the US market. I waited since 2004 for mine since the first US announcement for ramp up in Nov 2005, delivery was Feb 2006. Only 300 made and I'm glad I got mine.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

An amazing car - but

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Lotus Exige 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

The Exige is an amazing machine. Steering feel, braking & cornering are all phenomenal. The car is also beautiful to look at while being functional. I love mine, but prospective buyers need to know what they're getting. The car is not for everyone and you have to be willing to deal with its total impracticalities. It's basically a 4 wheel motorcycle. The car is best used on twisty back roads or on track. Commuting or highway cruising is a waste, in my opinion. You have to accept the attention that the car draws. It's a surprisingly comfortable car once inside. Ingress and egress are tricky but get easier with a little practice. Nothing comes close to an Exige for the money.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

You wear this car

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Lotus Exige 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

The Exige and you become one. You can feel everything that goes on. Every bump, every crack. There are no surprises. This is the best Lotus ever. Colin is smiling!



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Wow

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Lotus Exige 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

This has to be the funnest car I have ever had. Maybe not the fastest but I can take any turn at any speed. You have got to have one; it IS the BEST.



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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 19
  • cty
/
  • 27
  • highway
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