TG Speed Week: the Scotland Showdown
We’ve got two days in Scotland to reach a definitive verdict on our favourite performance car. Time to loch and load...
Posted: 31 Aug 2012
SP: After driving it for a morning, I hated the Exige - its piggish lack of comfort, the big scratchy-plastic sills, the notchy gearshift, the fact you have to rest your left knee against a sharp metal cup-holder... but then I took it on a proper blast along an empty, wild, mountain road, and there was noise and speed and the steering wheel was bucking around in my hands. All of a sudden, I felt like Stirling Moss in one of those ridiculous deathy Sixties road races. It was terrifying, but in that moment I got the Exige, I think. It's like being strapped to a Lockheed Martin rocket. In a good way.
OM: It's about drama and speed and fizz. It makes the 911 feel big and dull, the McLaren distant and aloof. Two things surprised me about the Exige S: how good it looks on the move and what a brilliant race-car buzz it makes. Stuff that didn't surprise me: how amazingly stable it was in the wet, how it made corners more engaging than anything else here and how very fast it is.
SP: Not as quick as the MP4-12C. On real-world, real roads, I'm not sure there's anything that could hold pace with that McLaren. On the Mallaig road, I chucked it into a long, rising left-hander as fast as I dared. It stuck, I kept accelerating and the McLaren just got quicker and quicker until there was no blood on the left-hand side of my body. It wasn't just that it clung on, it was the total lack of apparent weight-shift, of one wheel taking more strain than the others. It's like Ron's white-coated army in Woking took a long look at the laws of physics, ummed for a while and then said, "Yeah, let's not worry about those."
OM: It's one of those cars that's hard to fault: the interior design is exceptional, the steering wheel perfect to hold.