This car is so good, it will work with just about any driving style. I started out working the car smoothly, preferring to get the front tires to let go just before the rear and really working on getting power down. As I became more comfortable, I found myself squeezing the new AP Racing brakes later and later into turns and letting the car move around more. There's so much steering feedback you can keep the car right on the edge and still be comfortable. Steering is totally linear; it works exactly like you want it to. No need to worry about suspension deflection and trying to second-guess how much angle is needed. It's almost telepathic. Small adjustments of steering angle and throttle input result in surgically precise line corrections.

If you feel a bit more hooligan, the car is eager to be your partner in crime. A brief trip to the pits and I cranked the stiffness dial on the dampers to change the balance and reflexes. A mid-level setting of 5 in front and a somewhat stiff 7 in back changed the car's personality. A little shove on turnin, stab at the throttle pedal and feel the back end swing around. Even without a standard limited-slip differential, a nice predictable drift will have you giggling like an idiot.

There are some downsides. At least some people consider them downsides. It's one of the tougher cars to get in and out of. The sills of the beautiful riveted and epoxy bonded aluminum chassis require gymnast-like dexterity to vault over without looking like a drunken polar bear trying to get unstuck from a barrel. But those same high and wide box section sills give the car its amazing torsional rigidity. Some will complain about the Spartan interior. Full carpeting would just distract attention from what is probably the finest pedal set in the auto industry-and it's not like there are no amenities. The S 240 is equipped with the most elegant cup holder ever devised, but it won't hold a typical American Glutton Gulp. Apparently, anything more than 12 ounces of fluid would risk throwing off the car's balance.

The Exige S 240 is not everyone. Lotus admits that sacrifices have been made for the sake of performance. However, it's for anyone who's a driving enthusiast of the first order. It's raw, basic and really good. Cars like this have all but disappeared-maybe because driving enthusiasts have all but disappeared, replaced with performance statisticians. We're all so concerned with achieving performance with luxury, I think we've overlooked what we're sacrificing: passion.

By Michael Febbo
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