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Exige S - The Decision Makers


Behind every great car is a team of dedicated individuals and they don’t come more passionate than the team at Lotus. From Design to Technical to Testing, each area at Lotus prides itself on having the cream of the automotive crop. What you see on the road are the direct results of their blood, sweat and tears – here you’ll get an insight into their worlds in their words.

First up is Lotus’ Testing Guru Matt Becker on putting the Exige S through its paces...


The only way to pass the test is to take the test...

Lotus’ Testing Guru Matt Becker on putting the Exige S through it’s paces

Extreme conditions result in extreme performance...we just finished a great testing session at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track, which most people think of as the world’s toughest track, and the Exige S dealt with everything the track threw at it and then some. If you can make a car feel stable and exciting at speed at the Nordschleife then it will feel stable and exciting anywhere and our goal through any product testing is to make sure that the car is set up to perform at its best in an all locations.

Matt Becker
We blow hot and cold... a crucial part of our recent test in Germany was brake and ESP testing. On the last morning we did some brake cooling performance measuring – four laps flat out – two people in the car, tank full – so the car was as heavy as possible, this is the worse condition test for the car. We needed to push the car as fast as we could possibly go in order to test the thermal performance of the brakes to ensure they can cope with those conditions and it passed with flying colours. After that I did one flying lap, the weather had not been so kind to us during this test so this was our only opportunity and it felt fast, very, very fast - we measured some of the highest lateral acceleration figures that we’ve ever achieved in a road car.

But how fast is fast?...
I’m thinking of suggesting renaming it the Exceed S... what surprised me the most, and I’m not an easy man to surprise, was the level of speed the car reaches through the corners – don’t get me wrong, the flat out speed alone is impressive but what’s phenomenal at this stage is the acceleration, handling and stability through the corners – this car is really something else. It exceeds the level of performance that we thought was possible and it’s very confidence inspiring. It doesn’t leave you on edge, you always feel like you’re in control of the car – you don’t feel like it’s going to get away from you.

Make the most of the moment... product development very often comes down to a question of timing and trying to squeeze as much as possible out of every session. When we were at the Nürburgring recently, the weather wasn’t brilliant which put a serious restriction on our already limited track time so we made the most of the location and conducted a lot of suspension, spring and damper testing on the local roads which are perfect for this.

Am I in pursuit of perfection? No, give me fun over perfection every time... generally speaking you can’t argue with performance but ride and handling can be subjective, not everyone likes the same thing so when we’re working on the set-up we have to consider what works best for the characteristics of the car and the kind of person who will ultimately end up driving it. With the Exige S, I think the most likely buyer is someone who wants to seriously play at the track as well as rule the roads so the car needs to work amazingly on both platforms.

Pick a mode, any mode... in addition to Touring, Sport and DPM off modes, with the help of Bosch we’ve created a fourth ‘Race’ setting. Where as Sport mode is the fun mode, Race mode is the serious mode – as a race driver if you’re going into a corner, you wait for the apex and then you maximise the throttle, in Race mode, you can maximise the throttle as soon as you see the apex. It actually learns the surface and maximises the traction required accordingly. So the theory is: a driver will actually be quicker in Race mode than with the system completely off – so ultimately it makes you the fastest you can be on track.

Get down the gym before you get behind the wheel... this is a very physical car and when you play with it on track your going to feel it in your arms afterwards. That’s the only negative I can see as a consequence of the heavier chassis – the steering is naturally heavier but we’re working on fixing this to minimise the steering efforts as much as we can.

To put it simply... I would say it’s 997 GT3 performance for half the money. Am I allowed to say that??? Plus all the fun you know and love from a Lotus. Prepare yourself.

Coming soon... Design Director Donato Coco on how to make a maverick...