Pure Driving Joy: The Lotus Exige S1
The phase “handles like a go kart” always gets thrown around in car reviews. The Lotus Exige S1 might be the closest you will ever get to a go kart for the road.
Lotus is a quirky car manufacturer from England. The one of the founders of Lotus, Colin Chapman, is famous for saying, “simplify and add lightness”. The brand had a winning history in Formula One and currently sells only sports cars, though that may change in the future. The lightweight philosophy is carried into all of their road cars. Chapman was an engineer and knew that the more weight the car had the more power it needed accelerate quickly. So, by keeping the weight down, a lower power car could be competitive with a higher horsepower one. In addition, the lightweight means less wear on the tires, brakes, fuel consumption, and it is easier to change direction. With this in mind, the company built the Lotus Exige S1, one of the lightest production sports car ever made, in the 1990s.
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The Exige features an aluminum monocoque chassis which is bonded together with glue, because it’s lighter than bolting the chassis together. Additionally, the body of the Exige is a lightweight fiberglass composite. Lotus made the mid-engine sports car as a pure driving machine. So, the only elements in the car are purely for driving. Naturally, everything is as light as possible. The pedals in the car are raw aluminum, and it even has manual windows and door locks. The seats are racing buckets.
So, what is it like to drive such a aggressive driving machine? In this video, YouTube channel Roads Untraveled takes us along for a drive in a track-spec Lotus Exige S1. This very rare car is one of only 8 in North America, and it is the only one that is street legal. The sound of the high-revving inline-four behind his head is glorious. The bright little Lotus looks like a supercar, drives like a racecar, and we want one. Let us know what you think about the Lotus Exige S1 in the comments.