2015 Lotus Exige S Club Racer
Lotus launched the Exige in 2000 as a coupe version of the Elise that’s been in production since 1996. The sports car was updated in 2004, while the more powerful Exige S was introduced in 2006. Initially powered by a supercharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Exige S received the Evora’s 3.5-liter V-6 with the arrival of the Series 3 generation in 2012. Since then, the Exige S soldiered on mostly unchanged, although Lotus gave it an automatic transmission for 2015 model year and issued the track-prepped Cup and track-exclusive CupR editions.
Come 2015 and Lotus has developed yet another road-legal track car based on the Exige S. Dubbed Club Racer, this new sports car promises to be the most inspiring version of Lotus’ already track-focused Exige S.
"Factoring the Club Racer ethos into the Exige enhances the track-focused potential of this important model. It encompasses our legendary benchmark in handling, with lightweight and efficient construction and that we will always put a peerless and pure driving experience first," said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Lotus Exige S Club Racer.
2015 Lotus Exige S Club Racer
0-60 time:4.0 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:170 mph
Much like the Elise S Cup, which is a track-ready version of the standard Elise launched in 2014, the Exige S Club Racer is a road-legal Exige S that received an aerodynamic body kit for improved downforce and handling. Additions include a larger front splitter, a rear wing, and a motorsport-spec flat underside. It might not seem like much for a stand-alone car, but these features give the Club Racer nearly 93 pounds of downforce at 100 mph, which is nothing to sneeze at in the world of lightweight sports cars.
Speaking of lightness, the Club Racer tips the scales at only 2,559 pounds, which makes it 33 pounds lighter than the standard Exige S. The weight-saving measures aren’t noticeable from the outside, but the driver and the passenger will be opening significantly lighter doors to get inside.
The Club Racer can be had in four exterior colors. Exige Orange (shown above), Metallic White, and Metallic Yellow are standard. The front splitter, rear wing, front access panel, roof panel, and side mirrors come finished in matt black regardless of the exterior color. Lotus also offers a full matt black finish as an option. Finishing touches include "Exige S CR" decals.
Once inside, customers will notice more weight-saving features, such as the lightweight sports seats and the lightweight center console painted in the same color as the exterior. The seats can be had in either leather or Alcantara, both available at no extra cost, and with color-coded stitching and hoops. A sportier steering wheel makes the Club Racer’s interior stand out even more.
Other than that, the cockpit is standard Exige S, meaning it doesn’t feature amenities such as air conditioning, a radio or USB connectivity. However, these comfort-enhancing features can be added from the car’s short options list.
Like the Exige S, the Club Racer is powered by a Toyota-sourced, supercharged, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Lotus claims the track-ready sports car hits 62 mph in four seconds and has a top speed of 170 mph. Although the Brits don’t say a word about the CR’s output, the specs, which are identical to the Exige S’, confirm the Club Racer comes with the same 345 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 295 pound-feet of twist at 4,500.
Routing all that oomph to the wheels is a six-speed manual transmission. As you may recall, Lotus recently introduced a six-speed automatic for the Exige S, but the new unit isn’t available with the CR. And I don’t mind that, even though it makes the Exige S one tenth of a second quicker from 0 to 62 mph.
The driver can select from three driving modes: Drive, Sport and Race. Each alters the traction slip thresholds, while both Sport and Race settings also increase throttle response.
Priced from £56,900, which converts to $84,667 as of 03/20/2015, the Club Racer costs £2,400 ($3,571) more than the standard Exige S, but Lotus claims it has £4,500 ($6,696) worth of standard extras. The options list includes only four items. There’s an air conditioning system for £1,250 ($1,860), CD/Radio and USB and NVH Pack for £1,200 ($1,785), Matt black paint for £2,000 ($2,976), and lightweight two-piece brakes for £1,850 ($2,753)). All told, a fully equipped Club Racer fetches £61,200 ($91,066) before the black exterior paint option.
Unfortunately for track-day enthusiasts living in the United States, the Exige S Club Racer won’t cross the pond to North America.
The GT4 is the latest and most extreme iteration of the Cayman as of 2016. Its exterior stands out next to its siblings by way of larger air inlets and a massive rear wing, while the interior features sports seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara and a sports steering wheel. For those looking to spend more time at the track, Porsche can install optional buckets seats made from carbon-fiber, and the Sport Chrono Package.
Under the hood, the Cayman GT4 uses the 3.8-liter, flat-six engine of the 911 Carrera S. The mill cranks out 385 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission and pushes the car from 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, which makes it 0.2 seconds slower than the Exige S Club Racer. On the other hand, the GT4 is capable of significantly higher top speeds, as Porsche claims it can reach 183 mph. The Cayman GT4 starts at $84,600, and while that’s not exactly affordable, the good news is this German rig is available in U.S. dealerships. Read our full review here.
I’d like to see Lotus roll out a completely redesigned Exige S, but it won’t happen for two reasons. First, the Series 3 Exige is barely four years old. Second, the brand is still struggling to stay afloat after a disastrous 2013. That said, the Club Racer is a good addition to the lineup given the current circumstances, and a track-focused vehicle that sports-car enthusiasts will most certainly appreciate. The fact that it is quicker than the Cayman GT4 speaks volumes of Lotus’ potential in this niche.