FrontRunners: Lotus Exige
Lotus Cars founder Colin Chapman had a simple formula for making cars faster: "To add speed, add lightness." More than 25 years after Chapman’s death, his company’s automobiles continue to embody this mantra—and none more so than the new Lotus Exige S 260 Sport (www.lotuscars.com).
At 2,020 pounds with a full tank of fuel, the 260 Sport is 57 pounds lighter than its immediate predecessor, the featherweight Exige S 240. Lotus kept the 260 Sport lean by using carbon fiber for the roof, rear engine cover, side scoops, front splitter, and rear-wing spoiler. Even the bucket seats are made from the woven composite material.
Lotus modified the 240’s supercharged 4-cylinder engine for the 260 Sport, boosting output to 257 hp and 174 ft lbs of torque. A launch-control feature catapults the car to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds—a figure sure to pique the interest of weekend racers. However, like the 260 Sport itself, potential buyers will have to move fast: Lotus plans to ship only 50 of the $76,000 cars to North America.