Lotus Exige 410 & Porsche 718 GT4 Head-To-Head. Which Is The Best Attainable Supercar?
There has been a trend of hypercar announcements of late.
Many manufacturers from across the world have announced ultra powerful hypercars at shows such as the recent Geneva Motor Show.
Ferrari have announced their LaFerrari replacement, the SF90 Stradale which produces 986 horsepower from its 4-litre twin turbo V8 engine. It will get you from 0-60mph in just 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 211mph.
McLaren have announced its next hypercar, the McLaren Speedtail. This hyper-GT car will reach a top speed of 250mph and cost in excess of £1.75 million.
Cars such as these are really pushing the limits of power, with some boasting 800, 900, and even 1,000 horsepower. Whilst others focus on extreme downforce performance.
But all manufacturers seemed to be chasing that headline figure. All trying to beat each other to have the quickest electric-hybrid car, the highest top speed or produce the most amount of downforce.
Can You Really Drive A 1,000bhp Hypercar?
As spectacular as these cars are, those few individuals who will be able to afford them will rarely, if ever put the extreme performance to use.
When you think about it, in what scenario can you truly push these cars. There aren’t many (any) roads in the country where you can drive these things quickly… B-Roads would truly destroy the suspension set up, as these aren’t tuned for that many bumps. Drive one of these cars quickly on the motorway and you’ll soon attract the wrong sort of attention!
You can always drive very sensibly to a track and track one of these machines. But in reality who would want to risk a car worth up to and over £1 million on a track. Braking too late in to one corner, or going for an overtake on the wrong side of another driver and you’ll be left with one very expensive heap of metal.
Another consideration is that many specialist trackday insurance companies only cover cars up to a value of £200,000. This makes it very hard to even get your million pound supercar on to a track with any cover.
The True Realistically Attainable Supercar
Looking back at Geneva 2019, whilst we were walking around in awe of the exciting new hypercars, we noticed one thing. The lack of any realistically attainable supercar.
By realistically attainable supercar, we mean new supercars which fall into a relatively affordable category.
Of course, there are those individuals who can afford to spend upwards of £250,000 on a new supercar, but there aren’t many. And as we looked at above, even if you do spend that much money on the latest supercar, you’d be hard pressed to make the most of it on the road.
This creates an interesting category of niche attainable supercar models which offer great supercar level performance, are actually use-able on the road and don’t cost the earth.
We have previously stated that cars such as the McLaren 570S are bargain supercars. However cars similar to this, at a price range below £100,000 will always be a few years old. (Read why we think the McLaren 570S will be a bargain supercar here.)
When you are talking about an attainable supercar at under £100,000 brand new there are a few cars which get close. You may end up looking at the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera S, and the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. Although for the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT you will be looking at £121,495 brand new.
Then we get to the two cars we want to talk about today.
The Lotus Exige 410 & The Porsche 718 GT4
For years, Lotus have embodied this philosophy of producing a mad mini attainable supercar. The Elise is one of the smallest sports cars in the world, and the Evora is one of the cheapest supercars you can buy.
This brings us on to the car which epitomises everything we need from an attainable supercar in 2019. The 2018 Lotus Exige 410.
For a start the Lotus Exige 410 costs from just £79,900. And that is its price brand new, straight off of the production line. You’d struggle to find any modern Lamborghini or Ferrari in the used classifieds for under that price.
Don’t get me wrong, that is still a lot of money for a car. But for the performance and smiles the Exige 410 delivers, you’d struggle to match it for the price.
Let’s run through the Lotus Exige 410’s key statistics.
Originally released in 2018, the 410 uses the Exige framework as a base to work from. This generation of the Exige now dates back to 2013, so it isn’t cutting edge by any means. However the 410 is still a new-ish edition on this winning formula.
Think of the Exige 410 as a road legal track variant on the Exige formula. It replaces a large chunk of the old chassis with a variety of carbon fibre body parts, including carbon seats. This brings the weight down to just 1,108kg.
The great thing about such a light supercar, is that when you do really push it, you are putty far less strain on the consumable parts. Less weight means less stopping power required, allowing you to go through brake pads and discs at a much reduced rate. This factor also applies to tyres.
On that note the Exige 410 is fitted with 215/45 ZR17 tyres up front, and 285/30 ZR18 in the rear as standard. These are much smaller and skinnier tyres than found on Ferrari and Lamborghini cars. Again keeping cost down when you do eventually burn through a set.
When you start to add up the cost of replacing consumable parts on an exotic supercar, that original purchase price rises considerably quickly!
You can truly drive an Exige 410 hard for a long time before you have to worry about wear and tear. You can spend the whole day at the track without even thinking about brake fade or overheating. It would truly take some aggressive driving to to eat through anything on this car. And that is mainly due to it’s ultra-light kerb-weight of 1,100 kilograms. It makes everything accessible and friendly.
How Much Power Does The Lotus Exige 410 Have?
You could’ve probably guessed this one if you’ve encountered the Lotus naming system before. This Exige produces 410bhp from a supercharged 3.5-litre V6 engine.
This much power in such a lightweight car gives the Exige 410 a power to weight ratio of 389bhp / tonne. In comparison, for a Porsche 911 to match that power to weight ratio figure, it would need over 600bhp. Putting this little supercar in the realms of a Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Impressive.
Now On To The Porsche 718 GT4
We’ve had to wait a while to see a proper 6-cylinder engine in the 718 platform, but the time has finally come.
Up until this moment, we have always thought of the 718 Cayman as a true drivers car, but without that grunt that other small supercars have.
Previously Porsche 718 cars all had a 4-cylinder which really gave an underwhelming experience.
However that has all changed with the release of the Porsche 718 GT4. Revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the 718 packs an engine which is a little bit more special than Porsche are making out.
Porsche say that the new 6-cylinder engine is “based on the same engine family as the turbo engines in the current 911 Carrera model series”. However this isn’t really the case.
Porsche GT division boss Andreas Preuninger goes on to confirm, the new “Evo” engine is actually “a bespoke new engine” including “a new crankcase, new cylinder heads, new pistons, new crankshaft, new rods”.
The reason Porsche designed this new engine is that Porsche are planning on using it in upcoming models, potentially including non-GT models.
Anyway, tell me about the performance of the Porsche 718 GT4
The new 4-litre 6-cylinder engine revs freely up to 8,000rpm and produces 414bhp. That’s almost identical to the power output of the Exige, which produces 410bhp from its V-6 power unit.
Torque is also very strong, producing 310lb ft. Again identical to the Exige. And the Porsche 718 GT4 has a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds. That is slower by a whole second than the Exige 410… This is down to the 718 GT4 weighing almost 400kg more than the Exige.
Power aside, the 718 GT4 is a small supercar that is very hard to ignore. It enables the car and driver to act as one when throwing this car into corners. With a driving balance which almost no other car of this size can match.
In comparison the Exige, although much lighter, is based on much older framework dating back to 2013.
Stepping out of the 718 GT4’s power assisted driving dynamics, and in to the raw manual feeling of the Exige quickly jolts your brain in too overdrive. The Exige doesn’t have assisted steering or complicated driving dynamics, yet compared to the 718, it is a much purer experience.
Should I Buy A 718 GT4 Or An Exige 410?
The Porsche 718 GT4’s driving dynamics and fluidity are immense. While driving it, you think you are in the ultimate small supercar and nothing could possibly top it.
That feeling disappears after 20 seconds in the Exige 410.
The Exige has so much more visceral power in a straight line. The throttle response isn’t quite on par to that of the Porsche, however the weight difference and supercharged V6 quickly make up for that.
When you are driving the Exige you feel as though you are truly at one with the car. And when you are driving well, the Exige delivers possibly the purest experience of any supercar we’ve experienced.
Along with the engine win, the Exige also delivers a killer blow in the handling department. The Exige corners so much tighter than the 718, and you can take more speed both in to and out of corners.
So a win for the Exige 410 then? Undoubtably yes, however it isn’t as clear cut as we have made it sound.
The 718 GT4, approaches the game from a completely different angle. From a much newer, electronically assisted route. And it still handles like a dream. With the extra power from its 6-cylinder engine compared to the standard 718’s old 4-cylinder really makes the drive much more emotive.
Lotus Exige Sport 410 Detailed Statistics
Engine – 3,456cc Supercharged V6
Power – 410bhp at 7,000rpm
Torque – 310lb ft at 3,000-7,000rpm
0-62mph – 3.4 seconds
Gearbox – 6-speed manual
Weight – 1,108kg
Fuel Economy – 26.6mpg
Porsche 718 GT4 Detailed Statistics
Engine – 4,000cc Flat-Six
Power – 414bhp
Torque – 310lb ft at 5,000-6,800rpm
0-62mph – 4.4 seconds
Gearbox – 6-speed manual
Weight – 1,495kg
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