Many owners save their Exige S2 for special occasions, so mileages can be low. According to Lotus specialist Greg Lock of Hangar 111, most owners are near-religious in their car’s care, and even those who use them hard tend to upgrade components long before they get the chance to wear out; cars that have been used on track, therefore, needn’t be too scary a prospect.
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While the Toyota twin-cam is a tough-hearted four-banger, do check for a plausible service history with either main dealers or reputable specialists. Hangar 111 reports that upgrades to 300bhp and beyond can be achieved reliably, but if you’re using your car extensively on track, a baffled sump or Accusump oil accumulator is a worthwhile investment.
Clumsy shifting can cause the failure of third and fourth gear ratios in the Toyota-sourced six-speed ’box. To fix any baulking of the shift from third to second generally entails the fiddly adjustment of the cable: it’s a job worth doing, though.Suspension and brakes
The Exige’s standard suspension is superb, but trawl the forums for a local specialist who can check the geometry is A-OK, as precise set-up is vital. Lotus Motorsport and the various tuning outfits have myriad alternatives to the standard suspension for serious circuit work.
The standard brakes easily endure heavy road use, but regular trackday fans should consider a switch to grooved discs and high-performance pads, such as Pagid.Bodywork and interior
Signs of a respray at the front end or along the flanks usually means someone’s tidied up the stone-chips to which the Exige is prone. If you’re still concerned about crash damage, get the car on a ramp, remove the undertray, and look for signs that the aluminium tub has been repaired.
Air-conditioning may not have much pitlane kudos, but will make it easier to sell your car on. Competition seats and harnesses are popular options and aftermarket add-ons, but be sure you want them, as they can be uncomfortable and restrictive when used on the road.
Naturally aspirted Exige S2Engine In-line 4-cyl, 1796ccMax power 189bhp @ 7800rpmMax torque 133lb ft @ 6800rpmTransmission Six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel driveTyres 195/50 R16 front, 225/45 R17 rear Weight (kerb) 875kgPower-to-weight 219bhp/ton0-60mph 4.9sec (claimed)Top speed 147mph (claimed)Price when new £29,995 (2004)
Parts pricesSupplied by Hangar 111, Lotus specialist. Tyre prices from www.blackcircles.com. All prices include VAT at 20 per cent.
Tyres £194.97 front, £230.40 rear each (Yokohama A048 LTS, fitted)Brake pads (front set) £45.84Brake discs (front pair) £116.64Clutch kit (uprated) £393.60Oil filter £11.94Air filter £24.88Exhaust system, cat-back £474Catalyst £456
9K intermediate service £199Annual service (including brake fluid change) £264Major service (including brake fluid, spark plugs and air filter) £364
Lotus Exige S Prices
With relatively low supply and fairly steep demand, don’t expect to find many bargain Exiges. Or very many at all. Unless they have high mileages, few privately owned naturally aspirated cars dip below £17K – dealers tend to price them closer to £20K – while even oldish supercharged models always seem to have a ‘2’ at the front of the price tag. Low-mileage 2010 examples, such as the Roger Becker special edition, are mid- to high-£30Ks. Cup versions from 2010 with under 15,000 miles are on the forecourts for close to £40K. When comparing prices, remember to thoroughly research specification first.
www.hangar111.com (Lotus specialist)www.seloc.org (enthusiasts’ group)www.exiges.com (Exige forum)www.eliseparts.com (parts supplier)www.lotusdriversguide.com (invaluable guide to models)www.lotussilverstone.co.uk (specialist)