Exige S 240: Rocket Ship to Planet Lotus

A purpose-built go-cart for the street.

That’s the 2008 Exige S 240 — Lotus’ quickest, most powerful street-legal production car to date — as described by one man who knows. Road and Track also recently salivated: “There’s absolutely nothing else remotely like it,” its writer noted.

“This Lotus is special in a lot of ways when comparing it to anything else that is offered from other manufacturers for the street,” says Chad Wilkens, sales associate at Scottsdale Lotus, 7652 E. Acoma Drive in the Scottsdale Airpark.

The family-run, no-pressure agency will also put you into a new Elise SC or an Exige S as well as a number of pre-owned super cars, including Lotus, Ferrari, even Bugatti. In addition, Scottsdale Lotus also has a professionally manned service facility which handles not only super cars but everyday cars, too — foreign and domestic, oil changes to engine rebuilds and beyond.

Either Wilkens or associate Richard Cucchiello will be happy to discuss this extraordinary new car, which zips like a go-cart, for sure, but has all the panache and class you expect of this legacy-rich marque unveiled in 1948, when Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman built the Mark 1 — the first Lotus.

The Exige 240 is so named because it now has a 240-horsepower supercharged 1.8-liter Toyota 2ZZ engine (Yamaha builds it) with a double overhead cam and variable valve timing and lift intelligence. What this means is a rocket ride from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds and, six seconds later if you dare, 100 mph. Top speed is 150 mph, and this special Exige gets there post-haste, too.

Maximum horsepower for the 11.5:1 compression four-cylinder is achieved at 8000 rpm and the maximum torque of 170 pound feet at 5500 rpm. A six-speed close-ratio transmission with an upgraded clutch plate effortlessly handles the extra power.

With legendary Lotus handling, just 2,077 pounds of curb weight, excellent highway fuel economy of 26 mpg and enhanced front brakes, the newest Lotus might be the one that propels you into the showroom and the cockpit of one of the world’s premier sports cars. MSRP in Scottsdale on a fully equipped Exige S 240 is $73,050 — excellent value for what is really a track-ready car.

“It is like nothing you have ever driven before,” Wilkens says. “It’s fast, responsive, agile —and an absolute blast to drive! The feeling once inside the cockpit is pure excitement. From the first time you hit the push button start and hear the modest rumble from beneath the bonnet you know you are in for a special treat.”

“The cockpit is tight like a race car, the pedals are extremely close together and almost require driving shoes,” Wilkens says. “Once you get out on the open road, you forget about the fact that you are driving a tiny car and all you can do is try to pay attention to the rapidly approaching horizon.  This car is a blur and breathtaking — from the whine of the supercharger mounted to the engine right behind you to the quick shift through all six gears. You forget about everyday life and begin to enjoy life.”

This is an individually adjustable car, too: Improvements such as variable traction and launch control allow you to tailor your Exige S 240 journey to mood — and the excitement level of your passenger. The standard traction-control system has 11 settings: One is the least, 10 the most, and 11 none at all. The launch control requires the driver to follow a set sequence — “like an astronaut preparing for lift-off,” another writer noted.

By the way, if you drive unluckily, Lotus has designed that suspension to break away/collapse in the event of a crash, minimizing damage to the chassis — lightweight epoxy-bonded aluminum with integral-steel seatbelt support and a steel rear sub frame.

The suspension also combines strength and light weight. It’s fully independent with unequal length wishbones and Bilstein mono-tube gas dampers (shocks) and Eibach coaxial coils and a front anti-sway bar. Brakes are four-wheel ventilated/cross-drilled discs with Lotus/AP Racing and Brembo calipers with anti-lock braking (ABS). Sitting on these are forged-alloy wheels in matte black; on these are Yokohama Advan A048 LTS ultra-performance tires: 195/50R16s in the front and 225/45 R17s in the rear.

With such a car, you might want to consider the optional limited-slip torque-sensing differential, a torque-sensing limited slip differential distributing power more evenly between the rear tires — allowing better acceleration out of low-speed corners, as well as another option that adds adjustable Bilsteins with remote front reservoirs and threaded spring perches.

Everything about this car is about going fast — even the restyled roof scoop. Extending along the windshield, it draws more air to the intercooler, and that means more power when you want it.

The interior is all new, too. Consider the upgraded appointment package, with full-leather seat and door trim, upgraded stereo system with iPod® connector, cupholder, stowage net, additional sound insulation and full carpet set. That last is available only in black leather.

The bucket seats are comfortable, the Road and Track reviewer noted, and, although this is a small car, larger folks (perhaps not Shaq, though) will find sufficient leg and head room. The new dash is soft vinyl, with the instruments and controls are well arranged so that you know what you are doing, although the more puritanical may find your enjoyment absolutely sinful.

Paint choices range from metallic and other options all the way to luminescents that announce you’re coming a block before you pull in. New colors are Persian Blue, Liquid Blue, Isotope Green, Candy Red, Ice White Burnt Orange and Prism Green and Moonstone Silver.

The Starshield option places a clear protection film to the nose of car, rocker panels, exterior mirrors and lower rear panels. That’s installed at port when the car is delivered.

That delivery, like everything else about this car, is quick, so you won’t have to wait too long for your new boy’s (or girl’s) toy: Wilkens notes that custom building in England is just about eight to ten weeks, and the Lotus Exige S 240 for you docks a week later.

Your rocket ship has come in.

Lotus of Scottsdale