Sports car traditionalists heads will likely explode with this announcement, but Lotus has decided to add an automatic transmission to the Exige S’ options list. That’s right, one of the purest sports cars available today is getting a fun-killing auto gearbox. Keep in mind that this is simply a business move to open the Lotus brand to buyers who want the performance of the Exige S but can’t swap their own cogs. Not every sports car fan is a three-pedal master, you know?
The automatic transmission is a six-speed unit that features paddle shifters to help inject at least a little fun into the driving experience. Additionally, it has “Sport” and “Race” modes that adjust the shift characteristics for a more spirited driving experience.
As expected, this auto transmission is no slushbox. In fact, Lotus says that in testing it is just as fast as the manual-equipped Exige S around the Hethel test track and takes just 3.9 seconds to hit 100 km/h (62 mph), which is 0.1 seconds faster than the manual-equipped Exige S. The days of automatic transmissions killing performance are gone, particularly in high-end cars, like BMW, Mercedes, Audi and now Lotus.
Lotus expects the new autobox to be ready for public consumption in January 2015 and it will be exclusive to Europe and the UK for now. The automatic option will be available with both the base Exige S and the roadster model. In the UK, the automatic will add an extra £2,000 (VAT included) to the base price and €2,185 (excluding local taxes) in the rest of Europe.