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What’s the one thing missing from Lotus’ Exige S? If you said ‘an automatic,’ you’re in luck

The Exige S may be the best overall car in the Lotus lineup. This is both great and terribly sad.

The Exige name is synonymous with the road-going track car class, and it has the specs to back it up. Weighing in at just 2,592 pounds, the Lotus has a righteous, 345-horsepower supercharged V6 providing thrust, which translates into a very confident and precise machine. Previous generations were powered by a Toyota-sourced inline four, so they were even lighter at around 2,000 lbs.

The sad part is, after dual-stage ‘smart’ airbags became required in road cars in 2012, Exige production ground to a halt in the United States. The lightweight sports car did not meet the law’s demand, and was thus exiled (except on racetracks).

To increase saturation in the markets it still occupies, Lotus has announced a six-speed automatic version of the dynamic Exige S.

The auto offers “the involvement of a manual paddle-shift with all the convenience of an automatic,” says Lotus. The auto is actually a hair faster than the manual too, with 0 to 60 mph coming in 3.9 seconds as opposed to 4.0 seconds.

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

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The auto option is available on both the Exige S and Exige S Roadster for €2,185 ($2,768) in Europe.

We can probably guess the answer to this, but which would you prefer?