S2 impressions

Well I finally gave the S2 Exige a proper go on Saturday morning.

Sadly it was a bit damp, but that probably meant I kept it to more appropriate speeds. I may have another go in the dry when I pick my car up from its annual check-up. Although the moist roads did mean I got to feel it move about a bit more than I would otherwise have.

Firstly, I’d have to admit to not having really ‘got’ the S2 before driving it. It didn’t seem to make sense dressing up an S2 Elise as a soft Exige. But you really could use this one everyday for more than just a few miles. I’m still not wildly excited about the look, I think that the seven year old that lives down your street what stop looking every time you passed after a month or so. All in all though it is a much better overall package…but is that what an Exige should be?

Heading off it was easy to get use to and moved quicker than it felt, always a sign of good suspension I think. It doesn’t seem to need those 6 gears though and top would just save fuel on a motorway. The shift is quite a long throw and they don’t do a quick shift yet, which is a shame.

Now, that brake pedel - urk! It has a very long travel (which makes heel’n’toe tricky, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be) and is almost completely void of feel, you do learn to trust it after a while but more in a hit’n’hope way, not exactly skillful. Part of that is because the ABS is blooming good! In the damp I could use the full power of the brakes, which is very good (much much better than the std ones on an S1!), and then rely on the ABS not to come in too early and just warn me when it was time to back off. However good, it did strike me as a bit of a turn for Lotus. As with anything they turn their minds to, it’s very well engineered, but it could easily lead to a driver aid style of driving, which isn’t what their cars have ever been about.

Nothing has changed from Lotus on the suspension front though, it’s very good and seems to be all things to all men. A compliant ride, only upset by pot holes, and bend hugging poise. It does feel just a tad softer than the S1s which converts to a much more progressive break away; the sought that causes a smile rather than raised eyebrows.

I also tried the 111R which had a much more loosened up engine. Not having driven an Elise for a while, I think the Exige benefits from the roof, makes it seem more grown up. Without an upgraded exhaust, which the Exige had, the engine sounds dead! Though it does help hide the cam change at just over 6000rpm. Now with this, I was told and agree, that if you keep changes until max revs it never drops out of this power range, but that pretty much throws short shifting out. I think this would lead to driving like a hoon a lot just to keep it in the power band. The run-in engine seemed to have a less noticable step up though, a bit more torque in the mid-range even with that normal exhaust. The 111R’s suspension didn’t feel much softer than the Exige’s but the understeer was much more noticable. I can see why they’re selling more Exiges against it this time around.

So, are they selling out the Exige name and should they have called it something different? Maybe. Does that stop it being a very good indeed? Absolutely not. If I was coming to an Exige for the first time would I pick a new S1 or a new S2? Much as I hate to say it, I think I’d pick an S2! But if I swapped a S1 for a S2 I’d always know I was missing something when I was on track, and in my mind at least, that is what an Exige is about. Even if an S2 lapped quicker, and has the potential to be more fun at times, it’s not as much of a special experience.

There you go, for what’s it’s worth (and because a couple of peope asked me for it), my 2p worth (sorry for whittering on and congrats on getting this far!). Thanks to Bell & Colvill, all of whom down there seem to have a real passion for the cars, and now days seem less rushed off their feet and able to talk to customers.


Nice write up, mate

It is indeed a cracking road car - I drove Russ’s again on Saturday, which reconfirmed this view. Like yourself, if I could afford it, & I was coming to the Exige for the first time, then I’d go for the S2. However…there’s no way I’d change my car for one, particularly now it’s Honda’d

Firstly, as one of those who asked for your impressions IDG, thanks.
Although I’ve yet to try the S2 Exige myself, I went the 111R + Exige wheels/tyres route after driving the Elise & I’m pleased with my choice (so far). It’s certainly a better road package than the S1 Exige I had before

Maybe I should get on track, just to make sure

Well I can agree with you from the rear vison point of view! The 111R was much easier to park having that window behind my head.

If those Exige wheels have reduced the 111R’s understeer then all in all I think you’ve possible got an even better everyday road car than the Exige (if you don’t mind the noise from a canvas roof).


thanks for your impressions… it’s not really fair to say if you were new to exige today and had to chose S1 or S2 youd choose S2… because by definition any S1 would be old by comparison… but its a bit like trying to compare Senna with Schumi… and saying you’d choose Schumi… but an S2 doesn’t bark… or get emotional.

Glad you enjoyed it… i did too when it was my turn

I’m not sure you metaphor completely works there Rox.

I’d liken it more to the difference between a 355 and 360. Which one of those would you have and why?


hi i am a newcomer to this site and enjoyed reading your write up on the s2. was wondering, although u said u would probably pick a new s2 over a new s1. would u still pick the s2 in todays market where the s1 is roughly �10,000 cheaper? i basically would like to know if u had the money available is it worth spending the extra on the s2? from my research i have found low milage s1 exiges in very good condition for around �20,000. the cheapest s2 with a few thousand miles on it is around �30,000. is the s2 a �10,000 better car?


Drive both, & make your own mind up in the context of your anticipated use for the car. There, easy wasn’t it?

Ollie, Pesky is right, they’re slightly different, so it depends what you’re after.

However, I’ll answer the question but not quite in the manner I think you’re expecting. Knowing what I know now, if I had �30k what I’d honestly do is buy a high mileage S1 Exige (which can be got for as little as �16k! Frankly a crime! ) and I’d replace the K-series Rover engine with a Honda K20A and fit Nitron suspension. If you’re lucky you could do the whole thing for �25k and it would simply be one of the best track/road cars in existance (911 GT3s not a problem). Just ask Pesky, Randy and RussT.


ps. Thanks, I’m glad to liked the write up.
pps. No, personally, I don’t think the S2 is (currently) worth �10k more. There you go, I said!

I was furtunate enough to spend an hour or so in a new S2 Exige with Andrew Mathis from Westover in Poole a couple of days ago. My S1 hasn’t sold yet, (can’t understand why as its just so good), and so I had this wild idea about changing it for an S2 to use more often. I would say that it is definately a softer car, by that I mean not as hard core, not as in the suspension. I tend to be over sympathetic with my mechanicals so change up at about 5,500- 6,000 RPM in my S1. In the S2 of course you only get into the power at 6,000 so as you say it would encourage you to drive like a nutter. This particular car had just had the sports exhaust fitted and Andrew had been pulled by the police a few nights earlier as they said it was too noisy. Probably just wanted to have a look inside! Oveall it’s a tempting package but for pure thrills I agree you won’t beat an S1, every trip brings a smile. As you know I have had 911s, 348 Ferrari, Cerbera, Elise 160S, Chipped Evo6 and a new Audi S4 for everyday use. If it’s a nice day the Exige comes out, (also when it’s icey as it’s so much fun!). SIMON.

Good to hear from you Simon, and it’s nice to know an opinion is shared.

I got the 2005 Hullavington dates through the other day. Don’t know when I’m heading back yet, but let me know if you do (in whatever car).


ps. Not that he should be selling it, but somebody buy this man’s car. IT IS A BARGAIN! Especially now with the resprayed front.

Simon Dont write me off I am still interested in your car
Will try to visit W/c24 will call
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Hi Guys - I’m a newbie to the Exige S1 (collecting it on Sat) graduating from S1 111s. I took the S2 Exige with Toyota motor for a spin almost as soon as it came out. I completely agree with IDGs appraisal. At risk of immediate flaming and abuse from S2 Exige owners (who are far richer than me :wink: that I would say they should have called it something else! Admittedly I was only in it for half an hour but do remember saying (to the salesmans horror) that - “this is pants, my 111s would p*ss all over this”.
I obviously wasnt exploring the top end of the RPM (again no abuse thanks as my everyday motor is a MK2 MR2 with a superb Toyota motor)as my twin cam does not do anything till high up in the range. I was also winding him up a tad. It was very tight and not sure how much fun it wouldbe to use on the road compared even to the 111s? Lotus have produced a superb vehicle with a Japanese engine - what could be better? Lotus have opened up the market place to far bigger customer base which is also great. I look forward to seeing some post track day impressions of the S2 as I see it’s forte being revved hard on the track.


PS I also have a '72 Gold Leaf Elan Sprint - If I sold all 3 I might be able to get an S2 Exige - would I want one :slight_smile: