LOTUS has always occupied an exciting place in the market. Save for the £2.4m, 1,973bhp Evija, it has always been known for creating light, fun, nimble cars that, considering their performance, don’t have price tags that give you heart palpitations.
The Norfolk company now has a trio of well-established (although some would say ageing) cars that exemplify this: the entry-level Elise, the more powerful Exige and the slightly more practical Evora. And they have been around for a while — the Elise has now been around for 24 years, and the Evora for half that, being introduced at the 2008 British Motor Show.
Now in its third generation, the Exige — the mischievous middle child — is celebrating its 20th birthday with a special edition, following the footsteps of the Range Rover, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last week. The first generation Exige, devised as a more badass version of the Elise, didn’t sell too well but the Exige found larger success when it gained a supercharger, and is now widely liked.
Since its launch, the Exige has faced some worthy competition, which in the modern day includes the likes of the Alpine A110 and the Porsche Carrera S. If reports are to be believed, it seems that future models released by Lotus are going to focus on competing with more “desirable” brands like Ferrari. Lotus has said it plans to go completely electric after its next release, and electric components (especially lithium ion battery packs) don’t come cheap.
The special edition is a version of the Exige 410 (named for its horsepower, which equates to 403bhp). The 410 can get from 0-60 in a very respectable 3.3 seconds, on its way to an equally respectable 174mph top speed.
The 20th Anniversary edition differs from the standard 410 in some aesthetic nods to the original turn-of-the-millenium car, both on the exterior and the interior. On the outside there’s a retro body-coloured roof, rear wing and side air intake pods, and on the inside there’s the panelled stitching that featured on the original Exige Series One.
There are three retro colours available: Chrome Orange, Laser Blue and Calypso Red, all taken from the Exige Series One, as well as Saffron Yellow (not too many shades off the Norfolk Mustard Yellow we associate with Lotus), Arctic Grey and Motorsport Black.
All the standard equipment you expect from the 410 is obviously included, such as three-way adjustable dampers that enable the driver to adjust the suspension to suit their preference or environment. There’s also a few of the optional extras that you can choose to add to the standard 410, including a fancy digital DAB radio with Bluetooth, ultra-light alloy wheels, cruise control and an Alacantar-covered steering wheel. There’s also the option to make a few further upgrades.
For all that lovely stuff you have to pay a £5,412 premium, bringing the cost of the 20th Anniversary edition to £79,900. That’s obviously not pocket money but if things at Lotus go the way the company hopes, we’ll soon be thinking nostalgically of the days you could get a Lotus for eighty grand.