Fancy the hardcore 345 hp/400 Nm bantamweight Lotus Exige S but not hardcore enough to row the manual gearbox yourself? Well, the British sports car maker has just the answer with a new self-shifting variant – the Lotus Exige S Automatic.

The new model basically swaps the six-speed do-it-yourself transmission hanging off the 3.5 litre supercharged Toyota-sourced V6 with a six-speed torque converter automatic, similar to the Intelligent Precision Shift (IPS) ‘box on the Evora. Steering wheel paddle shifters come as standard, and selecting Sport or Race mode delivers “optimised gear selection and response” to go with the changes on the rest of the car.

A limp-wristed gearbox for such a focused track car, you say? The Exige S Automatic is still undergoing final testing, but it’s already as fast as its manual-equipped counterpart around the company’s Hethel test track, and is actually 0.1 seconds quicker from 0-100 km/h at 3.9 seconds.

“By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide,” said Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Now, customers who are more accustomed to two pedals and automatic transmissions can enjoy the unbelievable performance and handling of the Exige S without compromise.”

The automatic gearbox will be available in all countries currently selling the regular Exige S, with sales starting in January as a £2,000 (RM10,500) cost option in the UK. Over here, the manual Exige S retails at RM405,777 for the coupé and RM410,777 for the Roadster, and you can expect to pay a hefty premium over these prices for one less pedal.

Lotus Exige S

Lotus Exige S Roadster