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Silverstone Lotus Exige

on Sun, 04/11/2007 - 16:00

Silverstone Lotus Exige
I've already written about driving the Ferrari 360 at Silverstone in my post Silverstone Ferrari 360 Experience Day. Excitingly the day also provided me with my first drive in a Lotus Exige. I won't lie, I was there for the Ferrari, but getting to play with the Exige was a factor in choosing this particular experience and one I had been very much looking forward to.

After the morning briefing everyone on the Ferrari experience was grouped together to warm up using a Lotus Exige S. My car was black with Silverstone livery and looked fantastically aggressive. I've discussed at length how much of a fan I am of the Elise’s looks and the Exige just turns the dial up a notch with its roof scoop, front brake cooling ducts and enclosed engine bay.

The Exige, much like the Elise, was a very raw driving experience. Getting comfortable was easy though and everything felt very familiar. It was younger than my Elise so there were a few interior tweaks (and ironically creature comforts, I am frustratingly jealous of the ProBax seat covering and handy coin tray on newer cars!). At speed you could hear the buffeting of the wind and the noise of the engine flooding the cabin. The engine note had the sowing machine like noise you hear people talking about and at times felt like it was revving so high it would burst. The car jumped around the track a little with its firm suspension and every change in tarmac was perfectly translated to a sensation on the controls. Without power assisted steering it requires a bit more energy, but I like that, and it rewards you with a level of control and feel that I haven't experienced in any other car. I pushed the car as hard as I dare and the instructor seemed more than happy to let me. Kissing the apex on a few corners was a real thrill and not something I will forget any time soon. The Exige proved itself more than capable and as expected was a joy to drive. I don't drive my Elise on track (yet) so any chance to really thrash a Lotus is grabbed with two hands.

Silverstone Lotus Exige
After the session in the Ferrari the day was bought to a close back in the Exige with a hot lap from one of the instructors. I can see why my instructor hadn't been too phased with my pushing the Exige earlier in the day because compared with his driving I was an OAP in the slow lane. Suffice to say there was a lot of sideways and I struggled to actually stay in my seat at times. I wish I had the skills and confidence to drive like that!

As an experience centre I would rate Silverstone highly. It covered the two most important points well: 1) it has good cars that are well maintained, and 2) it doesn't seem to over-subscribe the days so that they are too busy and preventing full enjoyment on the track. Silverstone is well set up to accommodate people and has that added wow factor of being the home of British F1.

If you are interested in going on a Silverstone Ferrari or Lotus experience day then more information can be found on the Silverstone website

You can read about my experiences in the Ferrari in my blog post Silverstone Ferrari 360 Experience Day