Lotus Exige 2015 review
Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the 2015 Lotus Exige S auto.
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It's Italy mid-summer and it's 40 degrees in the shade but nothing can detract from the excitement of driving Porsche's new 'lightweight' Boxster Spyder on the mountain roads surrounding Florence.
This is a drive made in heaven in arguably one of the best resolved roadsters there. Little wonder because it's spawned from the tin top Porsche Cayman GT4 .
You'll need to stump up $168,600 for this gorgeous two seater drop top but the rewards are there to be taken - with relish every time you fire it up.
Think of what you get: a 3.8-litre naturally aspirated flat six lifted from the larger Porsche 911 Carrera S, rated at 276kW/420Nm output.
You get choice components from a range of other Porsche models too - the brakes, Bilstein suspension, quicker steering from a 911 Turbo, Cayman GT4 interior components and other performance bits from the Porsche inventory.
Combined they endow this striking car with a 0-100kmh sprint time of 4.5 seconds, high end dynamics, and an exhaust note to savour.
Porsche says the Spyder is for the enthusiast driver, the purist. It may well be true, but you could drive it every day comfortably, then back up at the race track on weekends and hose your Porsche mates.
Spyder is the top Boxster, with less kit.
They threw away the PDK manumatic transmission fitting a six speed manual only. The fabric roof is manually operated and has fewer struts and lighter hinge mechanisms to save weight and no interior liner. They lightened the seats and cut some of the sound insulation for a near 30kg saving over the 3.4-litre Boxster GTS.
Some lighter alloys are used in the chassis and even the interior door handles are in webbing strap - a nice touch.
But the essence of the Boxster remains - mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels, huge brakes (in this case with six piston callipers), with climate control and audio (optional in Europe, standard in Australia).
The engine is a clockwork wonder spinning out to 7800rpm thanks in part to variable cam timing and cam lift, direct fuel injection, a high compression ratio and other optimisation technology.
And far from being a hard edge quasi race car, the Spyder offers up a comfortable and controlled firm ride that insulates occupants from rough roads and noise.
It weighs in at 1315kg placing the Spyder at the lighter end of the serious roadster spectrum that includes things like Audi's TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, Lotus Exige S and Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG (the main competitor).
Spyder rolls on 20-inch forged wheels with wide rubber and has some aero aids including the twin streamliners behind each seat that taper to the back of the car.
Sports Chrono chassis enhancement is standard making it ride 20mm lower than standard Boxster and has a more purposeful stance on the road - from all angles.
Point the Spyder where and when you like and it flicks that way instantly
But Porsche designed this car specifically for driving fun and driver engagement which we sampled on roads where it was stunningly competent.
Wow, what a car, no wonder it's capable of putting away a lap of the Nurburgring in a rapid 7m 47s.
Every aspect of the Spyder sends a chill down your spine from the walk up stunning looks of it to the trumpeting exhaust with pyrotechnic-like explosions on the throttle overrun, to the kart-like steering and brakes to the superb ride quality that covers off most sealed road driving with utterly no drama.
You can point the Spyder where and when you like and it flicks that way instantly. You can dab the brakes and wash off huge speed in a blink, you can whip it back a cog and rap it out to redline with an exponentially increasing rate of acceleration.
We would never tire of driving a car like this, even though Porsche itself says it's not a mainstream everyday car - ho hum.
Arguably one of the most engaging drive cars you will find
It has comfortable seats and a super stylish interior with plenty of luxury and technology including the satnav system that displays on a large central screen and also in the instrument pod on the right hand dial.
The gearbox is a close ratio unit with a rifle bolt action to make ratio changes snick through fast.
Any criticisms at all?
Nope, not a one, it even goes fairly lightly on fuel rated at 9.9L/100km.
Yes please, arguably one of the most engaging drive cars you will find. Absolutely rips, hooks and stops in a most efficient way. Exhaust sound rating 9.5 out of 10.
|(base)||2.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$57,750 – 66,330||2015 Porsche Boxster 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Black Edition||2.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$60,720 – 69,850||2015 Porsche Boxster 2015 Black Edition Pricing and Specs|
|GTS||3.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$81,070 – 93,170||2015 Porsche Boxster 2015 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|S||3.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$67,430 – 77,550||2015 Porsche Boxster 2015 S Pricing and Specs|
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