“Next time we meet you’ll be in a Lotus!”
“Next time we meet you’ll be in a Lotus!” — the parting words of a 3-Eleven owner at a Sunday morning car meet in June 2019. We had talked for much of the morning about his Lotus collection (he has one from each decade of car production) and we talked about the Lotus ethos for adding lightness. I told him that I’d often considered Lotus in my past but the stars had never aligned.
For a couple of decades, I had been a Porsche-guy. I loved the handling, the comfort, the quality, and believe it or not the practicality. They’d served me well but they no longer excited me – I couldn’t remember the last time I awoke early just to drive the Porsche. The time spent with the ‘Lotus-guy’ turned my head. His passion for Lotus rekindled my passion for driving and I knew instantly that I needed to add lightness for greater agility. I no longer needed practicality, I wanted fun, lots of fun.
Once inside everything was just right.
I raced home in my 911 Turbo and hit the web. Days of research turned into weeks and soon enough I was test-driving the Exige in 350, 380, and 410 spec. I’d read that the Exige was famously hard to enter and exit but once inside everything was just right. The molded seats with barely any padding conformed to the curve of my spine. The pedals were perfectly spaced and the tiny steering wheel without any height or rake adjustment was right where I wanted it to be. Oh, this is nice I thought, this was made just for me.
The Exige is of course pure Lotus so while it rides very low, it floats over the road surface like no stiffly-sprung Porsche I have ever driven. The accelerator was like a surgical instrument, responding with a delicacy unknown to my turbo and the engine/exhaust note was motoring music to my ears; the excitement was there in abundance. With a near-identical power to weight ratio as the turbo, the Exige also felt every bit as quick as my 911. But with instant acceleration, finer balance, and effortless weight-transfer the Exige was the most fun I’d ever had behind the wheel on public roads. I knew then that I simply had to get one, and that I’d have to sell the Porsche; so, I did both.
I bought a brand-new 350 from Central Lotus in July 2019 and while I enjoyed every back-road blast in my metallic black 350 – it was truly a stunning driver’s car – I soon wished that I’d bought a 410 in Military Grey. I reached out to a few dealers to explore my options. I enjoyed very good conversations with a number of Lotus dealers – all of whom I could have dealt with – but one stood out for me, Stratton Motor Company just down the road from Lotus’ HQ in Norfolk. I collected my new 410 in September 2019 and it was spectacular. From every angle it was perfect. The Military Grey paintwork accentuated the sculptured body contours like no other colour and the carbon fiber bits and bobs added drama and purpose. Wow.
On the road the 3-way adjustable Nitrons and Cup chassis immediately felt more purposeful and with the larger diameter exhaust the 410 sounded like a different beast. ‘This’ was the Lotus I’d really wanted. Loud, intoxicating, telepathic, drop-dead gorgeous. In October, with just 900 miles on the clock I pointed the lotus towards the Pyrenees and embarked on a 2,000-mile road trip spanning 8-days – it didn’t skip a beat. I took two 911-pals along for the ride and we had a blast.
…the epitome of a Lotus-driver’s road and perfect for ‘Us Lot’.
We enjoyed many roads but if I were to name a favourite I think its safe to say the N260 is in large parts spectacular but the C28 also known as the ‘Port de Bonaigua’ did indeed live up to Henry Catchpole’s pre-trip hype as “the best driving road you’ve never heard of”. That said, to enjoy my favorite roads, I head towards the Scottish Highlands. The old military road over the Spittal of Glenshee is a driving paradise. Well-sighted, open and flowing, its tarmac has been draped like a silk ribbon across the rugged landscape – it is the epitome of a Lotus-driver’s road and perfect for ‘Us Lot’.