A few weeks before the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Lotus announced they would "blow the top off" at the show. Back then, we all thought that we would see a Convertible version of the Evora, but we were so wrong. Lotus has decided to bring out the fastest roadster ever: the Exige S Roadster.

Based off the new Exige S, the roadster model will be powered by the same supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers a total of 345 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This engine sprints the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. Being that this is a Roadster, safety precautions deem it necessary to lower the top speed to 233 km/h (145 mph).

The Exige S Roadster weighs just 1,166 kg (2,570 pounds) and features the same design elements as the coupe, except of course for its factory-fitted soft top roof that makes the car look even more muscular than the coupe.

Now for the bad news: the new Lotus Exige S Roadster won’t make it to the U.S. market, as it will only be offered in markets like Europe and Asia.

UPDATE 5/22/2013: Lotus has just unveiled the official pricing for the Exige S Roadster and is now available for order. See more after the jump

Updated 10/24/2014: Lotus announced that the Exige S will also be offered with an automatic transmission. This new option will increase the car’s price by about $3k. Details after the jump.

Hit the jump to read more about the Lotus Exige S Roadster.

  • 2013 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Roadster
  • Year:
    2013- 2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    345
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    145 mph
  • 0-100 time:
    8.5 sec.
  • Price:
    80000 (Est.)
  • car segment:

Exterior and Interior

2013 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Roadster High Resolution Exterior
- image 441223

The exterior of the Lotus Exige S Roadster will be identical to the coupe model, meaning there’s a new front splitter that eliminates the broken lines found on the previous model and newly designed headlamps. The coupe’s rear spoiler has also been dropped, to make room for the factory-fitted soft top roof’s storage when the driver is enjoying his breezy Sundays. Thankfully for the driver, the roof is typically lightweight and easy to put up and take down.

For the interior, Lotus is offering customers the chance to opt for a comfort enhanced plush interior or go for a more stripped down, sporty option.

Engine

2013 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Roadster High Resolution Exterior
- image 441220

The Lotus Exige S Roadster is powered by the same engine found in the coupe model: a supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine with race-derived technologies that delivers a total of 345 horsepower. The engine is mated to a stanard six-speed manual gearbox, but will also be available with Lotus’ Serial Precision Shift (SPS), a paddle-operated automated manual transmission which makes driving a more relaxed experience in the city and more F1-like when it’s let off its leash.

The sports car also comes with two different suspension settings: a standard suspension for an active driving experience suited for public roads and an optional setting as part of the Race Pack for maximum performance, developed for track use. The launch control system can be activated when the car is in Race mode.

The Roadster version will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and to 100 mph in 8.5 seconds. Being that this is a Roadster, safety precautions deem it necessary to lower the top speed from the 170 mph found in the Coupe to 145 mph.

New Automatic Transmission for 2015

The Series 3 Exige S remained untouched until 2014, and that’s not going to change very soon considering Lotus’ financial distress. However the Brits have finally found the resources to introduce an automatic transmission for buyers who aren’t keen on having a shift stick in their sports car. Besides eliminating the clutch pedal, the new autobox also brings slightly quicker acceleration times while still providing the driver with the excitement that "reflects the Lotus DNA of pure driving experience."

Lotus claims the new transmission comes with smooth and intuitive gear shifts, as well as specifically calibrated characteristics for when the Exige S is being driven in either Sport or Race mode. Due to optimized gear selection and response, the Exige S Automatic is as fast as the manual version, and even quicker in certain circumstances. During testing, the automatic sports car was as fast as its manual counterpart around Lotus’ Hethel test track, while achieving the 0-to-62 mph sprint a tenth of a second quicker. That’s 3.9 seconds and an important benchmark for the Exige range.

The new automatic transmission is offered as an option to the Exige S and Exige S Roadster, with prices for European markets where the model is available set at €2,185. That about $2,760 as of 10/24/2014. Unfortunately, since the Exige is not sold in the U.S., there’s no way you can have one unless you cross the pond to either mainland Europe of the United Kingdom.

Prices

2013 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Roadster High Resolution Exterior
- image 441221

The Exige S Roadster is now available for order in the UK, throughout Europe and in Japan. There is no official shipping date yet.

Pricing

Region MSRP
UK £52,900 incl. VAT ($79,916)
European Union €55,378 plus tax ($71,686)
Japan ¥8,500,000 incl. tax ($82,518)

Competition

2013 Porsche Boxster S

2013 - 2015 Porsche Boxster High Resolution Exterior
- image 433870

Since the Boxster Turbo is still unconfirmed, we can only figure that the 2013 Boxster S as Porsche’s answer to the Exige S Roadster. Under its hood, the Boxster S carries a 3.4-liter flat-six-cylinder engine that pumps out 315 horsepower – a 5-horsepower boost from 2012 – and 266 pound-feet of torque. As standard, this six-pot powerplant links up to a six-speed manual transmission with a seven-speed PDK trans as an option.

This setup allows the Boxster S to hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds in standard garb; 4.7 seconds with the PDK transmission; and 4.5 seconds with the PDK and the Sport Chrono Package. At its fastest, the Porsche Boxster S is 0.7 seconds slower to 60 mph than the Exige S Roadster. The Boxster S does trump the Lotus in top speed, as it hits a top speed of 173.4 mph.

In terms of styling, the exterior of the Boxster is aging quickly and just doesn’t hold up to the supercar-like look of the Exige. Don’t get us wrong, the Boxster isn’t ugly; it’s just had nearly the same look since it debuted.

In terms of pricing, the Boxster starts out at £46,112 ($69,661), making it significantly cheaper than the Exige S Roadster. Now, if we could only get the Exige S at the Boxster’s pricing…

Conclusion

2013 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Roadster High Resolution Exterior
- image 441222

The Exige S Roadster is a novel edition to Lotus’ lineup, but does Lotus really think that releasing a topless version of its flagship rig will help its image issues? Additionally, the Exige outprices its Porsche rival by a long shot, making things even more difficult. The Exige does separate itself from the Boxster S with its 0.7-second faster naught to 60 mph time and sexy body, but the Boxster takes the inside lane in terms of luxury, build quality and name recognition.

  • Leave it
    • * Not coming to USA
    • * Very expensive
    • * Undercut in price by its biggest rival (Boxster S)
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