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Lotus' RGB special edition 1.8s

2010-06-22 06:56

The Lotus Exige S RGB – a fitting tribute to the man responsible for keeping the spirit of Colin Chapman alive at Lotus design after his passing.

When Lotus engineering director Roger Becker retired earlier this year, after 44 years at Hethel, it signalled the end of an era.

Besides the company’s late founder, Colin Chapman, no other individual (okay, perhaps legendary test driver Alastair McQueen) had been as iinstrumental in fashioning the unique brand of performance and dynamics Lotus cars bring to market.

After joining Lotus in 1966, working on the Elan line, Becker was quickly promoted (after showing the requisite technical and driving ability) to oversee development of the Europa Twin Cam.

A celebration of engineering excellence

Becker’s engineering influenced stretched beyond the relatively exclusive market space occupied by Lotus’ small product portfolio.

Over the years many manufactures have sent their products for dynamic validity testing and engineering upgrades at Hethel, thanks to the success and impeccable reputation of Lotus’ abilities as an engineering consultancy. Becker was instrumental in developing the consultancy side of Hethel’s business.

All great things must come to an end though and when Becker retired as engineering director in February (at age 64) his loyal staff set about fettling two limited-edition Lotus models to honour the great man’s achievements.

Set to go on sale by September, the Elise SC RGB and Exige S RGB editions will be the last Lotus vehicles to feature the venerable Toyota-sourced 2ZZ VVTL-I 1.8l in-line four cylinder engine, which is being phased out in its current trim this year due to emissions issues.

Mechanically identical to the dynamically excellent standard Elise SC/Exige S fare, these RGB special edition models will power from 0-100km/h in the low five second bracket. The (extremely) swift performance of the RGB cars are courtesy of 163kW - in the Elise SC - and 190kW - for Exige S - incarnations of the supercharged RunX RSi (as it’s better know to South Africans) engine.

Distinguishing the Roger Becker special edition models are stylised alloy wheels. Doubters will call the RGB cars cynical marketing - to sweeten the deal of getting rid of those last few 2ZZ VVTL-I engines. Lotus has in the past been guilty of simply changing colour schemes to denote special edition cars for the sake of ballooning retail margins.

There is a case to be made for these RGB special edition cars actually (for once) being a justifiable Lotus limited-edition proposition, not in terms of differentiated dynamics, but in terms of the implied halo effect. They even sport Roger Becker’s signature on the side – and how cool is that?

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