When Lotus Cars Manila calls up and says you're allowed to borrow a Toxic Green Exige S on a Sunday you jump at it since it's just about the only day you can actually shift past 1st gear without having to hit the brakes in order to avoid slamming into the bus that decided to drop off passengers in the middle lane of EDSA.
I picked the car up at 8 am and headed out to join Enzo and Miguel for breakfast in Greenhills. I was given strict instructions to stay behind them on the way to the restaurant so that they could take some running shots of the car. I did a bad job. The thing about the Exige S is that it constantly pokes you in the ribs, telling you to put DPM in Sport and mash the throttle, and thats exactly what I did. Good thing Enzo drives fast and Miguel is well, Miguel and always manages to get the shot despite being in tricky situations ie. a hooligan driving a fast, bright green car.
I realized the Lotus makes you do funny things. At breakfast for example, my food arrived last, yet I was the first to finish. We hadn't even asked for the bill and I was handing Enzo my money and was halfway out the door with the key in my hand. I had no time to spare, the Lotus was grinning at me from across the road and begging me to use it. Driving south towards Alabang, the car reminds you that it is no toy, despite it being the size of a matchbox car and effectively having no insulation. Just a little bit of throttle and you are breaking the law. It is so monstrously fast.
"I can't think of many cars more fun and more engaging to drive than this Exige S."
Good thing Enzo decided to join me back in the south in the afternoon as I left breakfast in such a rush I forgot to ask Miguel to shoot the posing shots of the car for this article. What did I tell you? The Exige S makes you do funny things. The car is such an event to drive, getting in and out of the car is a little hard thanks to the huge door sill, the interior seems to missing buttons such as for locking and unlocking the car (you use the key), and you, as well as your passenger have to manually adjust the side mirrors of the car and despite all this, the car effortlessly draws you in.
I can't think of many cars more fun and more engaging to drive than this Exige S. It's one of the purest sports cars on the road today, one that forces you to think while you drive, and makes you a better driver every time you drive it. The steering vibrations are as close to a race car as it gets. It has loads of feel and if you understand the limit, it's very rewarding. No fancy side slip control here. If the car goes sideways, you better be the great driver you tell all your friends you are. Ask Enzo! He put his money where his mouth is. Although that's a story we’ll share on a different day.
A chassis from the Gods.
Within minutes of posting pictures on Opus Macchina’s Instagram my inbox was flooded with messages that went something like this: "Please pick me up in that green car" or "Yo! Until when do you have that car and can I please ride?" Of course I obliged, after all, what are fast, bright green cars made for other than scaring your friends? After shooting with Enzo, I decided to drive back to Makati where I met up with some of the people who messaged me. The Lotus behaved quite well on the highway, but you get signs that it's a thoroughbred with the way the car absorbs road undulations. As I mentioned earlier, some people messaged me, one of which, was my girlfriend - a very casual car lover.
Upon her entering the car I noticed that she had a confused look on her face, I think she was puzzled as to why the interior was so bare and why the car was so bumpy. (She’s used to a different kind of luxury car) But it was easy work changing that look of confusion into joy, a quick stab of the throttle and the crackling on the upshift and you see that classic Lotus charm working. Or maybe it was my charm? I don't know. Lotus makes cars for a very specific niche in the market yet its playful character allows for anyone to see why it's so special and why it has classic cult car DNA. I’d say it was a Sunday very well spent with the car, one Sunday that I wont forget.
If I told you ten years ago that your 345 horsepower car is under powered you'd laugh and ask me to meet you at White Plains Ave at midnight. Nowadays seeing a car pushing 350 horses is a ‘normal’ sight. However what has never been very common is seeing a car that weighs as much as an ant (1130 kg). It's this awesome power to weight ratio that allows the Lotus to punch way above its weight. The car propels itself to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 261.
Oh you know what, on second thought, while this hardcore Exige S is a hoot to drive in its hardcore and unforgiving personality, I think that the Roadster version with a manual gearbox would be so much more of an event to drive. After all, there is nothing like driving a sports car with the absence of a roof. The wind in your hair and the raw sound of an engine screaming at the top is too much to ignore. Lotus, please send us the car again and let us take it to the track!
An unforgiving weapon.
Professional Racecar Driver