That’s a bold claim, but with a 0-60mph time of 3.3 seconds, a 180mph top speed (for the coupe. The roadster tops out at 145mph) and 150kg of downforce at Vmax in a car that weighs just 1,054kg dry you’d certainly need to have one hell of a Top Trumps card to beat it.
Going by those bare stats the Sport 410 should feel intimidating to drive, but in reality, the opposite is true. In fact, rather than the outright speed of the car, what impresses most is how accessible it makes the performance. Obviously, on the public road, it is alarming fast when you use the accelerator’s full travel. But there’s also a huge amount of traction (in the dry at least) and the suspension is beautifully calibrated for bumpy British B-roads, ensuring the car feels planted rather than skittish. The flow of information from the unassisted steering is a reminder of just how bland most modern systems have become, while the sharp bark of the V6 as it zips up and down the rev counter (helped by a single mass flywheel) is almost addictive.
Of course, for £85,600 you’d expect something special, particularly when you think of the Porsche 911 or BMW M4 CS that might grace your driveway for a similar sum of money. But those are very different kinds of cars, inferior in some ways but far better in others. What the Exige does – indeed what it has always done – is excel when it comes to the pure, stripped-back driving experience. That applies equally on track too, where it is extremely quick but also easily adjustable and completely unflappable, all of which instils a huge amount of confidence. Obviously, a Cup 430 will ultimately be quicker, but you’d have to be very serious about your track days to make the most of it, not to mention put up with a much less accomplished road car.
The net result of all this is surely the best Exige of the lot, at least for anybody with ambitions of enjoying it on both road and track. So while the future for Lotus might well be full of promise, let’s not wish away the present just yet.
Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 180mph
Price from: £85,600