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Bizz

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damn. DAMN!

saturday, i had the opportunity to put about 20 miles on a new 06 exige with the track-pack. i cant describe how incredible this car is and ive been trying for two days. the gearbox wasnt perfect for me and the toyota engine is too weak under 6k rpms, but my biggest complaint was that the car was yellow.

communication through the steering wheel, which seemed no bigger than a dinner plate, was unreal and unlike anything i've ever driven short of a go-kart, but without the trauma. i think, think, i could feel the front tires shift on their wheels in the few banked sweepers i had the chance to drive through at speed. i have a sneaking suspicion that i was no where near the car's limit. which, since the car didnt belong to me, was probably a good thing.

the clutch was light and linear with only a portion of its travel needed for a quick shift. the shift lever's action and feel, if put into a mainstream production car, would be chastised as having a somewhat clunky, metallic feel and possibly too-long of a throw. in this type of car, however, its nearly perfect. the characteristics that would be criticized in a sport sedan or coupe are what enabled me to make very quick 2-3 and 4-5 upshifts with confidence and little acclimation. sturdy, well-defined gates and the metal-to metal feel was a positive for hard and fast shifts. the only issue i had with the gearbox was an intermittant unwillingness to engage first, second and fifth at low engine speeds. a quick blip of the throttle was necessary to enage at those times. i seem to recall reading about toyota manuals having issues with the syncros for a couple of gears. i am unsure if my experience would be related, it may just be the nature of the transmission in this car, but it was the one thing about the car that caused a degree of worry in me.

other than the engine, that is. briefly looking at the exige aftermarket, the engine may have some oiling issues under track conditions. that is something i'll have to research further. another thing i noticed was, that even though the car weighs less than 2100 pounds, the engine felt anemic except at full boil. that is, the chassis could use and deserves more grunt midrange and down low. i know exactly which engine i would install. don't get me wrong, the engine is well-suited to the car and makes a terrific sound when wound up. 0-60 in under 5 seconds and the 1/4 mile in under 13 seconds in stock form is nothing to cry about. but, it feels like the cars full potential hasnt been realized. i can't help but imagine how a decent amount of torque, lower in the rpm range, would improve acceleration both in a straight line and exiting corners.

i didn't test the brakes, since they are such a wearable component, choosing instead to gear down for corners. i can say, however, that the pedal feel was exactly what you would expect in a car like this. firm, linear and i would guess easy to modulate.

the cockpit, it qualifies to be called that, excells in reminding you what type of car you are driving. a pair of gauges, a speedometer and a tach with an integrated LCD display at its bottom, stare back at you from behind the wheel. the LCD displays fuel level as a row of vertical bars, coolant temperature and the odometer. a small shift light resides at the top between the dials. it's not hard to imagine that the cloverleaf on-ramp you are tearing down is instead a corner at watkins glen or nurburgring. luckily, noise intrusion into the cockpit serves as an audible reminder that you are likely exceeding posted speed limits. "honestly sir, i didn't realize i was going that fast." is not a valid excuse in this car. that too, like the shifter feel, is a good thing. the purpose of this car is to lap a track, be capable of getting you to and from that track legally and to make you feel like you are on a track when carving up backroads. too much coddling of the occupants detracts from the intended experience.

oh yeah, the car also had a stereo, A/C and stuff. :D

anyway, i've decided to get one of these someday and i was wondering if anyone here has one or has had experience with one.

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It seems like I'm in a minority, but I happen to not like the Exige, at all. It's just too much of a c0ckrocket for me.

Plus ... it also doesn't help that I always see one near my house that has been totally riced up.

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always liked the car and i would love one in just about any color. i would go for the elise though as the exige is a bit too track dedicated and i would just drive it more on the roads than on a road course.

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Haven't been in an Exige, but I rode in an Elise last year...what a hoot. I literally had to lean to the right so my friend that was driving could shift...(we are both 6'0" and > 200lbs). Reminded me of a go-cart for the street. I think it would be a really fun car to have for occasionally running the twisties...not sure about freeway driving, though..I'd be terrified of Suburbans and Rams (the car is so small and low, it's probably invisible to people in giant SUVs and trucks).

One track-type car I would absolutely love to drive is an Ariel Atom..

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I've have two Elises on GT4.. does that count? :P

How was your driving experience?

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