Ian's Ride

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The Predecessor

In October of 2005, I puchased a 2005 Lotus Elise from [Gonzaba Autoplex] in San Antonio on an impulse. It had an arctic silver exterior over ruby red interior and it was replacing my 2000 Porsche Boxster S.

Sadly, in February of 2007 my car met an untimely end when an old man in a Buick Century failed to yield on a left turn and drove directly into my drivers side door. Unfortunately, the drivers side control arm mounting point was bent in the accident.

Since the Elise is built on an extremely lightweight bonded aluminum frame, no repairs to the frame are endorsed by Lotus. Because of this, my car was deemed a total loss. If you've got the interest and the spare time, you can read the entire thread on [Lotus Talk]

The Purchase

In March of 2007 (I didn't do well without my car) I purchased my Lotus Exige from a private seller in Nashville, Tennessee. I flew out to Tennessee sight unseen with a one-way ticket and drove it back. Great way to bond with a new car.

I felt bad that my previous Lotus never saw a track or an autocross before it's untimely demise, and I promply signed up for my first autocross in April of 2007. The rest is history.

Forbes Auto Review

Once contorted and wedged in the snug driver's seat, you're in for one of the most unusual and rewarding driving experiences available.

Lots of luxury vehicles, sport sedans and expensive sports cars accelerate faster and can exceed the Exige's 147 mile per hour top speed, but not a one provides the purity of pleasurable, tactile feedback that this tiny English two-seater exudes. The steering is so light and precise — not nervous, not delicate, not too fast or intimidating — that you may find yourself doing little back-and-forth swerves on a highway straight just to feel the Exige dance.

Because the Exige is so light, the 190 hp and 138 pound-feet of torque generated by the four-cylinder engine sourced from a Toyota Celica is more than enough to make this a fast and responsive car. It sprints to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.9 seconds. The raspy engine and exhaust sound is just as pleasing as feedback from the steering wheel and the sharp, precise six-speed manual transmission (which also comes from a Celica).

The small and efficient four-cylinder is mounted sideways just behind the cockpit (a midengine setup) and revs with abandon. The 10,000 rpm tachometer has no red line to indicate maximum operable engine speeds in each gear, but a little red "shift before you break it" light comes on at 8,000 rpm. In fact, the engine can be taken to 8,500 rpm without damage for a couple of seconds while upshifting.

The bulletproof Toyota-sourced engine and transmission negate a key Lotus hallmark: finicky and unreliable mechanicals. Their upkeep and repair should be nearly as painless as a Celica's.

If you're intrigued by the world's most fuel-efficient (24 mpg city/29 mpg highway) high-performance two-seater and the only reasonably priced production car that is optimized for racetrack use, yet is road-legal and has a trunk big enough for long weekends, you might hurry to get in line for one of the 300 2006 Exiges.