Lotus announces automatic Exige S – and it’s quicker than a manualBritish sports car manufacturer Lotus has revealed that it will offer its Exige S with a six-speed automatic transmission and paddleshifters, in a bid to appeal to more customers around the world.

The carmaker says the automatic transmission “provides its driver with all round engagement and excitement and reflects the Lotus DNA of pure driving experience.”

The ‘box shouldn’t ruin a driver’s enjoyment of the Exige, as it’ll offer Sport and Race modes for faster gear selection.

And 0.1 seconds has been shaved off the official 0-62mph time, meaning it hits 62mph in 3.9 seconds. The manufacturer also says it achieves exactly the same time as the manual Exige around its Hethel test track.

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales said: “By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide. 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.”

So, it’s for America and China, then?

While European buyers of cars like the Exige traditionally prefer a manual transmission, Porsche offers a PDK automatic ’box on its Cayman, and the Alfa Romeo 4C comes with a dual-clutch paddleshift transmission.

The automatic gearbox is the same torque convertor system as used in the Lotus Evora IPS, but the company insists it’s been heavily revised to suit the more aggressive Exige S.

The Lotus Exige S automatic will cost from £56,500 when it goes on sale in the UK in January 2015 – £2,000 more than the manual version.