First of its new-look and even-higher-performance offerings; the heavily revised Lotus Exige S burst onto the scene in Frankfurt aimed squarely at "the adrenaline hungry sportscar aficionado." Although not a complete makeover, this precursor to the car due in 2015 takes the automaker into virgin territory on several levels and promises an even more intense driving experience.
While its basic styling cues remain, the exterior of the new Exige S has gained a good deal of the bolder character we can expect in the future, courtesy of a major fascia revamp that includes a more aggressive front splitter and a tweaked tail that now boasts a large, functional spoiler. To keep it securely hooked up to terra firma, its lightweight staggered-size alloy wheels mount super-sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires up front and at the rear. Inside, the revised Exige S cabin has a more refined standard look and can be custom-tuned by adding either the comfort-centric Premium or driver-focused Premium Sport packages.
Although retaining the existing modular aluminum spaceframe structure, the 2012 Lotus Exige S has abandoned its previous 1.8-liter/256-horsepower supercharged four-cylinder in favor a far more potent (and emissions-compliant) 3.5-liter direct-injected supercharged V6 which is shared with the Evora S. Making 345 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque, it drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. While this changeover has upped curb weight by over 20 percent, it also nets a 35-percent bump in power. That reskew of the mass-to-muscle ratio is projected to slice the Exige S's 0-62 mph sprint time to just 3.8 seconds.
Other keys to its mastery of the high-adrenaline highway include a Lotus DPM (Dynamic Performance Management) switch that allows the driver to toggle between three distinct chassis tuning modes: Touring, Sport and DPM off. For the ultimate enthusiast, Lotus will offer a Race Pack that adds fourth "Race" setting that ensures the maximum possible traction when exiting corners. The Race Pack also features Launch Control and an optimized suspension setting making the car perfect for organized competition activities.
Commenting on this newest member of the family, Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer Dany Bahar said: "Anyone who has ever driven an Exige will tell you that it's not for the faint-hearted. The new Exige S skips a few rungs on the ladder to give the driver the ultimate Lotus experience. Quite simply you can't get more Lotus than the Exige S." While the 2012 Lotus Exige S will be available in the limited numbers in the U.S., the car will not be street legal.