Exige or Elise (Which one?)

Here comes my first post.
First of all, congrats for the great forum!
There is so much information that cannot be found in forums of other, much more popular cars.

Right now I am driving an MX-5 NC Limited with a few suspension mods (coilovers & sway bars) and I am considering an upgrade to a Lotus as I have a very good offer to sell the car with almost no loss after almost a year and ~10K.

My budget is about 15K, but I’ll be happy to go with something cheaper too.
So my options are:

  • A low-priced Exige S1, which I love for the looks and the character, but I fear that it will prove too hardcore for daily driving.
  • An S2 111S
  • A standard S2 (@12K approximately) with the prospect of fitting a VHPD 190 HP engine in the near future.

I have also considered an S1 Elise 160 or 190-spec, but I hesitate opting for a 6-7-year old almost-racecar.

The first thing that worries me about the Exige is its engine.
Being so highly tuned, can I feel safe that it is unlikely for it to give me trouble?
What is its estimated life between rebuilds?

Does the S1 Exige have any storage/boot space at all?
I’d also love air con.

My driving is 40% around town (where I am obviously willing to make compromisses), 40% on mountains around, 15% on highways and <5% on trackdays (say one every 1-2 months).

Which Lotus would you suggest?
I have also been recommended a VX220 Turbo, but I am not sure if I’d like the Vauxhall badge.
Do you think it is worth a look?

And a last question; I read somewhere that the Exige’s roof can be taken off.
Is that true? Is its top virtually a removable hardtop?


Questions, questions…

Yep, the K will probably give you trouble eventually. A refresh very 30k is probably a good idea. I quite like it though, blooming light.

The S1 Exige does have a very small boot but the airbox stops you getting things like a helmet in there (S2’s is a bit better). Only really good for a weekend bag of a size that won’t move around much. Can get darn hot in there too. Look out for owners that have cut the space behind the number plate out, as that helps with cooling significantly but means the boot space can get wet.

The Air Con is rubbish, seriously. Lots of people just remove it. Provides useful extra vents though.

So, which Lotus would you suggest? Look at the picture at the top of the page. It’s special in a way few other cars are.


Ian is, of course, right.

But, purely on paper, and taking a more, practical view, it may well be worth considering a VX220T, they�re plenty brisk, and IMHO of course, they also look pretty damn good.

As far as S2 Elise�s go, I�ve always rather fancied the idea of building your own 190 Sport, you know, engine, suspension, tyres, interior, ect� But, I don�t expect you could do a proper job of that for less than 20k, but I still think it�d be a laugh .

But, at the end of the day, let your heart rule your head, and I�m sure you won�t stop smileing…


PS. Welcome !

PPS. I�m rather intrigued as to where abouts you live, “40% on mountains”, cool .

Thank you very much guys!!

My heart says to go for the Exige, but I sense and logic says otherwise.
Would I regret it using it as a daily driver after a couple months?
I see most Exiges that are on sale are around the 30-40K mark; should I estimate another 2-3K over the sale price for a rebuild?

I live in Greece!
(I know it’s going to be RHD and I will just live with it)
I am a electical (energy resources) engineering student and I spend most of my day behind my laptop.
This way I keep city driving to a minimum and I spend as much time as I can driving up and down some local mountains or on weekend trips.

I reckon I could buy a standard S2 at ~12K, import it to Greece and tax it and then get all the goodies I need (VHPD engine, suspension & tyres) later on and without having to pay any tax (because of the EU).
So it should be doable for about 17K and labour is much cheaper than it is in the UK (for e.g. precision alignment is 20-40 pounds).

Thanks again for all your help!

Would I regret it using it as a daily driver after a couple months?

I doubt it, they’re very light so the ride is compliant. Even with springs 3 times as stiff they’re okay. Several people use them everyday here. I use to and smiled a lot!


One other thing if your driving is 40% town.

I love the VHPD in my car in a perverted sort of a way. But it is a pig around town. In fact I don’t enjoy my car around town much at all. It’s not a natural environment for it, and it shows.

Given your mix of driving, a modestly powered K or a Toyota engined car is the way forward.