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This is the Lotus Exige S auto. Eh?
Lotus promises the six-speed torque-converter auto - which can be overridden by column-mounted flappy paddles - offers ‘the involvement of a manual paddle-shift with all the convenience of an auto’.
Though derived from the transmission already found in the Evora S IPS, Lotus says the gear-shift characteristics have been recalibrated to reflect the Exige’s circuit-battering brief.
What’s the reason for this heresy? Well, new Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is keen to expand the appeal of Lotus beyond its core, hardcore audience, and a two-pedal Exige should go down well in those markets where operating your own clutch pedal is considered as ardous and unnecessary as knitting your own pants.
“By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide,” says Gales. “Now, customers who are more accustomed to two pedals and automatic transmissions can enjoy the unbelievable performance and handling of the Exige S without compromise.”
Lotus says the auto will ‘exceed the manual variant in performance’, claiming the auto has lapped its Hethel test track as fast as the manual Exige S, and even clocked a fractionally quicker 0-62mph time. It completed the sprint in 3.9 seconds, a tenth quicker than the manual. (You will, of course, still be able to buy that manual Exige S.)
All excellent news, no? And definitely not a slightly weird addition to the most track-focused Lotus you can buy. Top Gear eagerly awaits Ariel’s announcement that it shall fit the Atom with a towbar. And the Nissan Murano convertible. Oh, that one already exists, doesn’t it?