Under the rear panel, the Lotus Exige packed the same Rover 1.8-litre 118bhp K-Series engine as its predecessor, tuned for more power output. This generated a top speed of 219b kph and a quick 0-100 kph mph time of 4.6 seconds.
Following its track success, a more road-friendly version was developed. The Lotus Exige was still a track car at heart, but this new variant added an extra front seat, as well as a track-derived front splitter and rear wing, and road-legal Yokohama track tires. Comfort features such as air conditioning were notably absent. Leaving its status as an Elise variant behind, the Lotus Exige was officially unveiled at the Autobytel series race in 2000 – with the name derived from the French ‘exiger’, meaning ‘demanding’.