Part 3 of 3. Exige S2. One year in.

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Dw1
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Part 3. One year in (from Part 2 which is here)
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21246

Did I make the right choice and am I still pleased with it.

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I still find the look of the car exquisite from just about every angle, it really is a beautiful car. Over the years I always thought the Exige looked sensational whenever l saw pictures and even better in flesh on the rare occasion I got to glimpse one.

In my view it’s a timeless design classic. The sloping rear half, the F355 evoking tail lights, the intake scoop, flared arches, the rear wing that looks so right on the car; purposeful without being Halfords parts bin boy racer, a mini supercar with real presence.

Looks wise I think it can hold its own amongst some real classics. Granted it wouldn’t win the champions league, but it‘s definitely a contender in the premiership.

The handling is something else, the way it grips and more importantly the way it communicates grip. But you already knew that.

Its the adjustability of the car and the way it just stays planted. You can play with the angle and balance all the way through the bend and feel the attitude change. So immediate but progressive at the same time. There is an extra layer of delicacy, feeing and adjustability.

My current set up is good, it has a bit of natural understeer dialled in which I can play with early/mid bend by easing off a tiny amount of throttle to bring the front in and the rear out a bit.

I normally prefer set ups that are a bit more pointy, although I know that’s not necessarily the fastest way around a corner. I’m really starting to appreciate this neutral set up as it’s allows me to explore the subtleties of the car.

On a dry, smooth road it’s practically impossible to get the rear breaking away as the grip is so good, even if you are being clumsy and provoking it.

There isn’t enough sudden torque to upset it. And that, I feel, is the point of the S2 model Exige. It’s so well balanced, it’s not designed to brutalise, it’s designed to glide scalpel like, its way down the tarmac, with a fluid precision that is instant. I really like that. The S2 doesn’t need fancy traction control, ESP or torque vectoring. I will come onto TC in a bit.

I did a track day at Brands in December last year. Mostly wetish and drying out in the afternoon.

It was sublime.

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You know I said this car doesn’t need fancy Traction Control, well the Sprint came with TC as standard, it wasn’t an option. So I had it whether I liked it or not, and it was the variable one with a dial to adjust the amount of slip angle before intervention.

The key here is that I don’t consider this version of TC as fancy. It’s clever but not fancy. What I mean by that is it’s a rudimentary system but done in a clever way via short engine cuts at the cylinder. Effectively a managed misfire but enough to surprisingly make a difference. It does nothing to control the wheels, just the amount of power going to the rear.

Now here’s the controversial part. For an amateur like me, on that track day, I loved the variable traction control (such purest blasphemy 😆). I think it’s brilliant, totally non invasive, similar to the racelogic one. Allows playfulness but gives a safety net to make up for my talent limits. Especially on wet track days. You can still enjoy the car and press on, the little ptt, ptts telling you when it’s gently coming in. 

It meant I could really enjoy the whole track day and give it the beans without worrying so much. It is also instructional because you can hear the little misfire-like engine cuts when they kick in at the exact moment where you have been a little too eager with the loud pedal (like I was on occasions ☺️) so you know next time round when you don’t hear it that you’re doing it right. I had it on full TC in the morning and as the track started to dry out I began to dial it out to allow more slip angle %. Until later in the day I could do full off.

I know without TC the instructional element is the car sliding and you catching it, or not! But with this beaut of a Sprint, I’d rather not take the risk.

During the day the TC didn’t kick in that often, I found it helped by giving me more gentle confidence. On a dry track day I would always turn it off. On the road, I quite like the fact it’s there even if I don’t find I trigger it.

Without doubt the TC saved me crashing into the pit wall early on the Brabham straight. I was starting to get a bit more confident in the wet and I was a tiny bit too keen on the throttle as I straightened out. I suddenly felt the back start to break unexpectedly to my left, pointing me towards the wall (lack of talent on my part). The TC kicked in and saved me by stopping the back swinging further. It all happened very quickly. So, perhaps controversially, I‘m a big fan of it and especially the variable part.

I’ve seen very little written about this version on the late S2s and the 211, perhaps because there are not many cars with it on (most likely reason) or people feel ashamed to admit they like it 😳 or the general consensus is it’s rubbish 😁. It wasn’t high on my list of must have when shopping for the Exige but now that I have it, I’m very glad I do.

The Abs is very good, non intrusive but I would prefer an off switch for track, not sure if that‘s possible to fit alongside the TC. If anyone knows if it is, please let me know.

On the track I found the ABS did kick in a little bit which gets the fluid hot. That might be my braking style that needs tuning to prevent it triggering, rather than the abs. I feel another Walshy day coming on.

I’m my view the car is meant for the track more than the road. Handling aside, you can’t really exploit its capabilities on the road particularly because the power is at the top end of the rev range, which means you have to be going full tilt to make use of it.

Strangely my modded VX with its whallop of torque low down the rev range meant you could power out of a bend or do an overtake easily without being in banzai mode, which almost makes it better suited for the road than the Exige. I imagine the S3 Exige has that same type of shove (but never been in one).

On track however I don’t miss the lack of torque because it doesn’t need it, on the road I do miss it a little bit. I can’t wait to get out on track again, it’s glorious and I don’t feel the need to modify it.

I have though made a couple of comedically small mods;
Boot light protector (got that from a previous sprint owner by chance),

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Harnesses

Blue soft top - it came with the softtop mod already done, just needed a top. I would have missed not having a convertible even though I prefer the look with the hardtop.

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Planned modifications: none. I have had my fill of modifying cars. I will, though, change out the exhaust because the 2bular it came with is too loud for my taste. 10 years old and the packing has probably thinned, it sounds amazing but I’m getting too soft. So I’ll replace that with a 2bular HJS full system for quietness. I’ll have the original 2bular backbox for sale in the coming months. Anyone who has the HJS, I’d love to hear from you to know what it’s like and real world decibels, especially for track.

If the shocks wear out then I might add 1 way Nitrons but don’t have a big urge as I found that Nitrons seem to need a rebuild more moften than OEM. Although when the time comes I might crumble and go for the Nitrons because they are so lovely.

So how do you sum up something so wonderful? A year in and it still ticks so many boxes for me. I absolutely love this Exige, and all Lotus type cars for that matter, it’s such an incredible marque. It’s the lightness that makes them so special. Even though I have always harboured a desire for a 911 since a kid I think I‘m permanently hooked on Lotus type now and would struggle to go for a 911 now. It’s the sensation of drive with the delicacy of steering and handling that is my drug I doubt I can shake.

The best way I can sum up the car is in one word; magical. This ones a keeper.
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Lankan
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Another superb write up.

I was very intrigued to hear your experience with the variable TC system on the later cars, which I had not read much about before. Some good info there for reference purposes.

Does yours have the Torsen LSD option?

Have done the whole air-cooled 911 (motorsport Porsches) thing, I felt it was time to get back into old-school motoring so decided it was time to get a Lotus, and the Exige S2 to me is the best looking and appears to have the right balance of power and weight.

Seeing your Sprint, and reading your write up, serves to reinforce this belief.

PS: over 3 months now and I am yet to take delivery of #138, but we are getting there... :eh:
2010 Exige S RGB #138
winthattt
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A mate of mine who used to be an instructor and a racer (Lola historic) left the TC on his 911 4s at Doningtion always on. He claimed it could catch stuff he could not and he did not fancy putting his car into the gravel. He managed quite a pace with it on, had to stop at lunch time as his brake pads had had it and nothing came past us all morning. I do wonder if the "switch it all off" comes too much from the Clarkson types who want to drift. It probably depends on the car as well. I'd say, if you are not running up against it, leave it on.
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thommo
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Another great read. So glad you're still in love
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Fonzey
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Another good writeup :)
winthattt wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:36 pm A mate of mine who used to be an instructor and a racer (Lola historic) left the TC on his 911 4s at Doningtion always on. He claimed it could catch stuff he could not and he did not fancy putting his car into the gravel. He managed quite a pace with it on, had to stop at lunch time as his brake pads had had it and nothing came past us all morning. I do wonder if the "switch it all off" comes too much from the Clarkson types who want to drift. It probably depends on the car as well. I'd say, if you are not running up against it, leave it on.
I agree the Clarkson effect is strong here, there are some systems out there that are far clever-er (new word?) than most if not all drivers. I think in modern performance cars the days of intrusive TC systems are behind us. I think there's a video somewhere of VBH going half a second slower when she switched off the race-mode stuff in a V6 when they first came out, for example.

The problem with the S2 platform is that most have an open differential, so you're always going to get inside wheel spin when starting to push on a bit. The Lotus TC is 'fine', but once it starts cutting in to prevent the inside wheel from spooling up it just kills your pace completely.

On my first trackday in the Exige I left my TC on (non variable in fairness) and based on the amount of time it spent kicking in I feared my car would be an unwieldy drift machine if switched off. When I finally plucked up the courage I realised that the car had grip for days, it was just my inside rear flaring up on the odd occasion which didn't alter my trajectory or rob me of (much) speed.

I think if paired with a limited slip differential it could actually be a good system, especially for damp conditions.
The_Wizard
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Joined: Mon May 25, 2020 2:24 pm

That looks fab, really glad you are pleased with it, i do love the blue Sprints. If you fancy making another pair of rear light protectors for a fellow Sprint owner, just let me know :-)

Lee
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