Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

The Exige uses the same 1.8-litre VVTi engine that you'll find in some Toyota Celicas. Standard models have 190bhp (just like the Celica), but the Exige S adds a supercharger that takes power up to 220bhp. Plus, it's light, which means it can really fly off the line - and keep going. The standard Exige is very quick while the S is faster still, racing from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds.

Lotus claim that the S can also get to 100mph in 10 seconds and on to a top speed of 148mph. The engine itself is incredible, revving up to 8,500rpm, with a 'kick' just after 6,000rpm when the variable valve timing comes in for a boost of power. Its smooth delivery of power means that it's possible to keep it at low revs on slower backroads and get powerful acceleration when roads become clearer.

Top of the range - and the ultimate Lotus - is the Exige Cup 260. It uses carbon fibre and lightweight components to reduce weight while engine power is boosted to 260bhp (hence the name). As a result it can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds - that's as fast as Porsche 911 GT3. All cars get a six-speed gearbox (again, Toyota-sourced, but with substantial Lotus revisions) that's accurate and fairly slick.

The Exige is - unsurprisingly - an outstanding car to drive quickly and a prime example of what Lotus does best. The steering is sharp, communicative and has outstanding feel, while body control is excellent, allowing flat cornering. There's also endless grip - even in wet conditions. Plus the ride isn't as harsh as you may expect, proving that outstanding handling needn't come at the expense of comfort.

It's a fast, enjoyable and rewarding way of getting from a-to-b. But, back in the real world, it's not all laughs. With no power steering and a loose turning circle, three-point turns and parking at supermarkets can be a real struggle. The lack of visibility doesn't help either.