So last week me and the Exige V6 (aka Magpie) passed our three-year anniversary. I’ve been lucky enough to own the car since new and we’ve both been on a journey, for some reason, I felt slightly compelled to share some of that journey. In particular the upgrades I’ve made so I can share my feedback as I’ve looked to improve upon the base car over the time of my ownership.
Maybe it’s because of the 10 odd pages of debate clogging up my TLF notifications on the new Exige 380 Cup that I thought it would be nice to change the subject of the day. I hope my journey is of interest and ill look to update this thread over time.
To set the scene, I’ve owned an M3, an M3 CSL, R35 GTR, and a 997.2 Club Sport GT3, the move from the Porsche to the Lotus was part of a ‘downsizing’ exercise, but the actual purchase of the Exige happened sooner than expected!
I live in the South West of England and at the time no one had one of the Exige V6s in stock to view, it was on a trip to Southampton where I had a meeting for work, the meeting finished sooner than expect so I thought I’d test my luck and check of any lotus dealers in the area. Low and behold Snows Hedge End dealership was 5 miles away, checked their stock and saw they had an orange one in stock. Phew, I knew I didn’t want an orange one so I was safe to visit to check the proportions of the car without worrying about making an impulse purchase!
Well that plan didn’t fricking work as on arrival this sparkling example had just been delivered to the dealership. BALLS.
A chat and coffee with the sales guy and I thought I’d make a cheeky offer, the offer was intended to prod around to understand where they may bend on the price. It was cheeky, very cheeky, so I wrote it on a piece of paper and explained ‘I have this money in the bank, and can purchase and settle before the end of month.’ The chap walked away, here I am thinking okay he’s gonna kick me out here! Anyway five minutes later comes back and says ‘you’ve got a deal’. BALLS number 2.
Literally at that moment of shaking hands, the wifey calls…. “Where are you?” Me “Ermm…. My meeting finished early”, wifey “Are you at a Lotus dealer,” me “Errr yes they have a white one,” wifey “We need to talk, I’ve got something to tell you…”
So here I am now freaking out as to whats going on as her tone is a little out of the normal… after a bit of questioning I eventually find out…
Lets just say the news of expecting our little one was awesome, the purchase of a Lotus at the same time was lets say somewhat – BALLS number 3.
Pick up day finally arrived…
Straight into detailing to remove the swirl marks left by the factory.
What followed from this point was a very fast fall into a track day addiction. In some ways an addiction far more expensive than drugs and alcohol but we all need some form of vice in our lives…
Funny enough both of these pictures above are wifey driving… Not when she was pregnant I dare say but very soon after our little one was born. Thanks to Lotus Silverstone for the install of the LMS tow ring at the time of the running in service. The install is very easy, some folks seem to get caught up about cutting the grill, it’s literally I small cut which no one really notices. It’s not a big deal you don’t need a separate grill for track and road.
If you haven’t already installed a tow ring then my recommendation is to give Dave at Seriously Lotus a call, he has the same item as Lotus but at 60% of the Lotus robbing cost!
Second track day in and the brakes seemed a bit dodgy, seemed as though I’d completely killed the standard brake fluid. So off to Williams Automobiles for a fluid change to Castrol SRF. First challenge of the day, Lotus had given me the wrong locking wheel nut key (such fun!). One week later still no success with Lotus and tracking down the right locking nut later, so a dodgy call to AA ‘I have a flat, lost my locking key’ and a very friendly AA man who understood my situation and was a Lotus fan! Said locking nuts were safely removed with their super special tools. Locking wheel nuts nasty invention!
Anyway back to the story, eventually got the brake fluid changed to SRF and what a difference, highly recommend changing the brake fluid to SRF if you’re going to do track days in your Lotus. Just remember to change SRF every 12 months.
So brakes are now better, but the car felt a little floaty and to be honest way too high for my liking. Personally the Exige from factory looks ‘jacked up’ so desperately needs lowering. I looked at all options from Nitron and came to the following conclusion (at the time):
1-Way: Cheapest option. Would provide the ‘lowering’ fix I needed and provide a simple level of adjustability.
2-Way: Only available from Lotus.
3-Way: Great levels of flexibility and adjustment but arguably could be confusing. Also the most expensive (worth the extra vs Lotus 2-Way).
Knowing many S2 owners being very happy with 1-Way I went down this route as spending over £3.5K on a 3-Way setup at the time just felt overkill.
The whole Nitron install was a major faff at the time to be honest, the first set I had installed actually raised the car! So three sets later and eventually Nitron was able to provide a setup that allowed for the right ride height. I must give Pat (who now works at Hoffmans) a major shout out for his perseverance and level of excellent customer care. He was absolutely awesome and I cant recommend high highly enough!
I’ve since learnt that Nitron have changed their damper specs to accommodate a lower ride height following my install. Further, I know Dave at Seriously Lotus felt the same as me and his Nitron’s have the shorter spec to accommodate a lower ride height but without detriment to performance.
One tip shared which seems to have worked was spraying ACF-50 Anti Corrosion on to the coilovers whilst still new to help prevent corrosion.
Good stuff and must say I think has made a world of difference as my Nitrons still look in great health three years later. One point I would make is keep the adjustments clean and well oiled, I typically spray a bit of GT40 on the clicker adjustment every time I adjust. They seem to get sticky now and again so frequent adjustment to keep them nicely free and in good clicking order is advised.
Here’s a side view pic of the car against a Cup, for me the car now has the perfect ride height and looks like a proper exotic. The picture isn’t the best but I would say there is no to little side on gap between arch and tyre, whereas for me there’s still a substantial gap even on the Cups which are lower than the V6 from factory.
The look of the car completely changed for the better. No major issues with ground clearance, for normal speed bumps taken with care no problems, most car parks also fine.
Goes without saying, if you’re conscious the car is a lot lower, you’re mindful of the dangers and take everything with care to minimize any risks. For example those tight nasty windy steep NCP car parks – Avoid like the plague.
Immediate improvement on track with the Nitrons for sure a good move, I find 8 clicks from full hard on the front and 6 clicks from full hard on the back is great for most tracks. For good surface tracks you can go 6 on the front and 4 on the back. I have played with the settings on the road typically 12 clicks from full on the front and 10 clicks from full on the back this seems fine, I would say road compliance has definitely become harder with the nitrons and not as nice as standard for road usage. I did try 14 clicks on the front and 12 clicks on the rear but found it then became bouncy on rebound. Maybe this is where the 2 or 3-way option would have been a better option as rebound can be adjusted separately to bump where as 1-way it’s all one setting for bump and rebound. In hindsight I should have gone 3-Way but at the time the cost was too high for me personally, whereas now you can find them as second-hand buys which makes the cost a little more acceptable.
My next plans for the Nitrons are to start playing with the spring rates, at first going harder on the front, this is something Dave at Seriously Lotus has been experimenting with and over the course of this year will take his recommendations and test for myself.
You’ll also notice I changed the wheel colour to black, the diamond polished wheels where starting to ‘milk’ so after a battle with Lotus they agreed to pay for a re-furb of all wheels and change to black. I was never a fan of the diamond cut to be honest. Later that year Lotus would go on to remove the diamond cut option from its option list. I understand this was due to supplier problems, quality, and other ‘milking’ issues.
Fancy canards where also installed, it was amazing to feel the increased downforce these little pieces of plastic create… only kidding, they just look good, but more on front downforce on future posts. So that’s years 2014 and 2015 done.