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The Top Gear car review:Lotus Exige
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
Once you’ve grabbed your ankles and origami-ed yourself in and over the large side sills of the bonded aluminium chassis, you’re treated to a snug, simple cabin. There’s not much space and only a little shelf as a way of storage. But you can use the carbon-topped chassis sill as some kind of mantelpiece.
Being a Lotus, lightweighting is something they’d like you to indulge in. If you’re a sports car sadomasochist you can remove creature comforts (radio, air conditioning, cruise control etc) or pay lots more money to add more, lighter things.
Things like a titanium exhaust (£5,500), carbon roof (£3,000) or carbon barge boards (£2,800). There’s even the possibility of a full titanium roll cage, a plumbed-in fire extinguisher, an electrical cut-out switch and four-point harnesses, plus other weight-saving track-orientated tweaks if you’re a proper circuit keeno.
The skeletal yet supportive optional carbon seats are surprisingly comfortable on a longer drive. You sit bum sunk, legs and arms stretched, as you grab a wonderfully small-diameter steering wheel. But the pièce de résistance is the open-gate six-speed manual gear lever. It has masterful tactility, but watching the operation of metal levers and rods clicking and clacking back and forth leaves you sitting in car parks or at traffic lights wandering the stick around like a numpty every time you stop.