PHUKET: Adam Tepper says with a straight face, “It’s completely reliable and never overheats, even in traffic.” But you just know there’s no way that’s why he bought it, or why he loves it.
Sunday 24 June 2012, 02:36PM
As far as software engineer Adam is aware, his Lotus Exige S is the only one on the island. Bright orange with black stripes, it’s certainly noticeable.
It wasn’t so easy to get it. Most dealers in Bangkok would not let Adam even test-drive a car; one went so far as to claim he couldn’t find the keys.
But finally Adam found a recent model with just 13,000 kilometres on the clock, and a dealer who would let him try it out. B4 million. Sold.
The technical details: The Exige is a supercharged version of the Lotus Elise. The engine, mounted just behind the cockpit, is a 1.8-litre Toyota block pushing out 240 bhp.
Its low weight of just 914 kilos gives it a a top speed of 240 kmh and a 0-100 kmh time of 3.9 seconds.
The aerodynamics make it stick to the road like glue thanks to a downforce of 45kg at 160 kmh. The underfloor in a long smooth stretch of aluminum – nothing pokes below that.
What does he like about the car? “It’s very purposeful – there’s nothing that’s not connected with performance.”
After buying the car the next problem was service, with the Bangkok dealers simply not interested. Luckily, just a few hours down the road (by Lotus Exige, anyway) is Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian automaker Proton owns Lotus and has a superb service outfit there, he says. In two weeks, the car was fitted with extras and in perfect shape.
Optional extras he had installed included electric windows, a cup holder (no software engineer can be without coffee for long) and air-conditioning.
“Even the AC takes second place to performance – when you put your foot down it automatically disengages.”
Lotus also arranges track days at Sepang, venue for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Adam could not resist.
“The Lotus crew were great. After about 10 laps the brakes felt a bit spongy, but they had four guys on it and in 10 minutes I was back out.
He also had the luck to meet Les Vorosmarthy, better known in Phuket for his occasional aerial stunt shows along Patong Beach.
Les has a race-prepped Exige, which he uses to get his adrenaline fix when he’s not flying. He took Adam round the track, showing him what to look out for and the line to take.
On his first track day, Adam scored 10th-fastest time. So expect him to disappear south for a couple of days every month. He’s hooked.